Pursuing Progress: Murshed Al Redaini, Group CEO, Yas Holding
Al Redaini is betting on the UAE as his Abu Dhabi-headquartered enterprise embarks on yet another cycle of growth.
As the world gets ready to welcome a new year, Murshed Al Redaini, Group CEO at Yas Holding, is unwavering in his view that the UAE is all set to see a period of unprecedented business growth, and those who remain focused on the job at hand will be the ones to gain from it.
It’s a conclusion that Al Redaini has derived from a wealth of knowledge and experience that sets him apart from his peers- following 15 years spent in the UAE Armed Forces, he has blazed a trail across a number of executive positions, including a stint at C4 Advanced Solutions (now under the EDGE Group, an umbrella technology company for the defense industry), before taking the lead at Yas Holding, an Abu Dhabi-headquartered investment company with a business portfolio spanning nine sectors, 7500 employees, and more than 60 operating subsidiaries. “Under the guidance of our Board, we aim to transform the company into an agile, innovative, and progressive organization in the coming years,” Al Redaini declares, before pointing out his pride for having served the UAE in both a military and a business capacity. “Both of these experiences have taught me that hard work and resilience, combined with a very structured approach, are at the core of the results that I have achieved. Teamwork and leadership also must go hand in hand. Ensuring that you are supported by a strong leadership team, and surrounded by a strong pool of talent, is also a key factor.
Over the years, Yas Holding has grown into a preeminent investment company that has relied on acquisitions and investments to expand into a number of sectors that include food, agriculture, healthcare, education, aviation, real estate, technology, services and others, as well as markets like Serbia, Morocco, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Egypt. Throughout 2021, Al Redaini explains that his team has been focused on strengthening the Group’s core sectors through consolidation and expansion. “We have seen several of our companies achieve cost optimization, which led to our renewed focus on these areas in order to increase the market share,” he says. “We have also been investing in acquiring new companies that complement our existing value chains. Plus, we are seeing good traction in businesses that operate in the critical sectors of the economy, including food, healthcare, education, technology, and others.”
As for the COVID-19 pandemic, Al Redaini credits the supportive and enabling environment created by the UAE’s leadership for helping businesses like his to tide over the crisis. “As a matter of pride, Yas Holding was very active during the early days of the crisis, working on delivering products and services to the country, to avert shortages,” Al Redaini adds. Going forward, Al Redaini says he will be looking to grow the Group’s healthcare, food and agriculture platforms. In addition, he believes that the Group’s technology-facing enterprises are also primed for rapid growth in key sectors in the next few years. “For instance, in edutech, we will continue to build innovative digital ecosystems that power education along lifelong journey pathways within large communities,” he adds. “Speaking more generally, our team is always busy identifying and incubating new investment initiatives that expand our current product range or potentially increase capacity and market share in our core verticals.”
While reiterating that Yas Holding is always on the lookout for solid businesses that complement its existing focus sectors, Al Redaini mentions a few of the group’s success stories. In the food sector, it is its ultra-fresh dairy company Marmum, which, he says, is rapidly growing a loyal consumer base. Meanwhile, in the space of edutech, he points to Yas Holding’s Nebras Education group of enterprises, whose platform, LearningSpace, is working on transforming education by enabling personalized learning journeys. Moving into the healthcare industry, Al Redaini turns our attention to Global One Healthcare Holding, whose operations span biopharma, manufacturing, medical supply chain, hospital and clinic management, healthcare technology, and occupational health and wellness. “Following the onset of the global pandemic and unprecedented pressures on the healthcare system, the industry faced huge challenges, but also a growth potential,” Al Redaini notes. “Plus, our nation’s strategic focus on this sector has been a key driver for Yas Holding’s expansion and recent acquisitions. We are interested in three different healthcare verticals- pharma and biotech value chain, hospital and patient care, and global health-tech focusing on artificial intelligence and telemedicine investments.”
In line with that, Yas Holding completed three strategic acquisitions in 2021: Gulf Inject, Geltec Healthcare FZE, and WellPharma Medical Solutions. “Those serve to reinforce the UAE’s ambitions on self-sufficiency in this vital sector,” Al Redaini explains. “Furthermore, they add stability to our group’s wide distribution and supply chain model that penetrates across multiple channels, reaching customers, clients and consumers in the country, and beyond.” When asked for his perspective on the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem, Al Redaini describes it as an ideal launch pad for any aspiring entrepreneur. “The flurry of progressive regulations and financial support in the recent years clearly underline the importance that the UAE leadership has provided to this field,” he says. “The UAE is leading the way in this respect with a focus on innovation, new technology, skill development, and so on.”
For all of these reasons, Al Redaini states that Yas Holding’s doors are always open to entrepreneurs in the region whose businesses align with the group’s growth plans across key verticals and focus areas, such as technology, precision agriculture, and supply chain innovation. “One example of a startup business that we have invested in is our acquisition of Farmbox, a farm-to-table specialist e-commerce grocery business, which is now an award-winning platform stocking a highly specialized range of organic and fresh farm produce,” he adds. With Yas Holding being a 100% Emirati-owned business, Al Redaini and his team are naturally committed to the ongoing development and success of the UAE.
In addition, Al Redaini considers that the country has already placed itself at the forefront of growth in the region. “Our country also has a successful track record of building some of the world’s most loved businesses, in particular across the e-commerce and tech space, with recent capital raising rounds paving the way as examples for others to follow,” he says. Starting a business in the UAE is therefore something that he strongly recommends, especially in the areas of technological and digital platforms and services, artificial intelligence, automation, digitization, and apps. “When starting a business, it is important to ensure that you have a well articulated product or service offering, and a clear target audience whose needs you will meet, in addition to the pains you will address,” Al Redaini says. “Keeping costs under control, managing cash flows, and raising funds for growth are all critical for survival in the longer term.”
With the UAE continuing to attract talent who will spearhead growth across the region, he is confident to advise that now is a good time to start a business in the UAE. “As we emerge from the pandemic, customers and clients are looking for solutions that allow them to retain the agility and resilience built up during the last few challenging years, whilst capturing growth and new revenue streams that are emerging,” Al Redaini concludes.
The Executive Summary: Yas Holding Group CEO Murshed Al Redaini’s tips for entrepreneurs
Think laterally, and focus on the details. "I’ve learned that no question is too small or irrelevant to ask. By asking simple questions, opportunities can be accelerated, as it often provides an opportunity to challenge the situation."
Focus on people. "Build a solid bench of talent, and support your team by clearing the path for them. As a CEO, I see myself as an enabler."
Be open to changes. "It is important to monitor all aspects of your venture's health to make sure adjustments can be made in as agile a manner as possible. Learning and adapting as a team to these challenges as they occur will better prepare you for unforeseen challenges that are yet to occur."
Control costs, and feed growth. "Invest in infrastructure that will lower costs over time and automate processes. Focus on the areas of growth that leverage existing knowledge hubs or the infrastructure that enables the exploitation of your enterprise's complete value chain and market share, whilst keeping operations and future investments lean and efficient.”
Build core competencies as well as transferable skills and knowledge. "As we have a number of core skills, competencies, and sector capabilities, we are agile enough to respond to challenges as well as emerging opportunities across multiple verticals by focusing on innovation and technology as core skillsets."
Tamara Pupic is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Middle East.