A Decade In Review: Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed, Founder And CEO, KBW Ventures Prince Khaled's work has continued to grow and diversify, with one of his most successful ventures being Arada, billed as "the region's fastest growing and most progressive developer."
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With its February 2024 issue, Entrepreneur Middle East celebrates its 10th anniversary! To mark this milestone, we revisiting 10 entrepreneurs and entities that we featured in the publication a decade ago- we find out how far they have come, and what's next for each of their stories.
"Wow, almost everything has changed since then!" That's how HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud responds when we tell the Saudi royal that 10 years have passed since he was featured for the first time in Entrepreneur Middle East as its December 2014 cover in his role as the founder of the Dubai-headquartered KBW Investments.
At the time, KBW Investments had just come into its own having acquired Italian crane manufacturer Raimondi, with Al Saud then becoming the latter's Chairman. "Raimondi Cranes is still going strong," Prince Khaled says. "It has expanded in terms of the amount of our machines at work globally, the geographies we are present in, and the new senior leadership team, which is bringing along an invigorated corporate approach."
Prince Khaled's work has continued to grow and diversify, with one of his most successful ventures being Arada, billed as "the region's fastest growing and most progressive developer," which came into being in 2017 as a partnership between him and H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, who is today the Deputy Ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah. "Arada is now what I would call the real growth story of the UAE real estate market of the last few years, both in terms of numbers and our approach," he says. "We've launched projects valued at AED52 billion in both Sharjah and Dubai, and we have already delivered 9,000 homes. For what is still a new developer, those numbers are impressive, but what I'm really excited about is our long-term approach, which is to focus on people, and provide them with the best possible facilities and services. Right now, about a third of all the homes we sell are to people who have previously bought a property with us; so, it's great to see that this approach is really paying off for us."
Launched in 2017 and headquartered in the UAE, Arada is the region's fastest growing and most progressive developer. Source: Arada/KBW Ventures
Prince Khaled has also leaned into his "Tech Prince" persona that we had made a note of in our 2014 piece- indeed, he is perhaps best known today for being the founder and CEO KBW Ventures, an investment firm whose portfolio includes cutting-edge tech startups from around the world like Mexican fintech Kueski, San Diego-based BlueNalu, Dubai-based Vuz, and many more. "KBW Ventures went from an idea to an active investment firm," he says. "During that interview 10 years ago, my venture investments were angel tickets, as I didn't have a formal vehicle for that. Now, KBW Ventures has invested in a lot of different sectors; food technology figures prominently, alongside other types of technologies, some B2B, and some B2C. We have a number of mission-driven companies in our portfolio, and we're always looking to build on our existing work. Going forward, we're taking what I term 'a broader approach' with our newest capital commitments."
HRH Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud, Founder And CEO, KBW Ventures. Source: KBW Ventures
This, therefore, seems to be the ethos that's governing Prince Khaled's personal vision for the future. "I'm excited to see many of the businesses that we are involved in transform the status quo," he says. "Arada is centered around providing the best in experiential communities, and bettering the living standard currently available to people. We have done this by elevating the Sharjah living experience through Arada's developments." Prince Khaled also points to KBW Ventures' investments in the foodtech arena as being especially exciting in the long run. "Cultivated meats and seafood is another area where I think our work contributes to elevating the status quo," he says. "You have the option to eat meat now, but when the negative climate consequences are alleviated, it's so much better for all involved."
As he thus trains his eyes on realizing what is essentially a better version of the world, he is clear about what he wishes to be his legacy. "From businesses to end users, there are so many ways I think we are participating in leveling up," he says. "In 10 years from now, I want to be able to say that the responsibility of my businesses is to leave things better than when I started, and keep finding new ways to do so."
Arada's flagship master development, Aljada, is a 24 million sq. ft. integrated lifestyle destination, and a new leisure and entertainment hub for Sharjah. Source: Arada/KBW Ventures
Hindsight Is 20/20: Then-Versus-Now With HRH Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud
Looking back at the stage of your entrepreneurial/career/ business trajectory you were in 10 years ago, is there anything you'd do differently knowing what you know now? Alternatively, what's the biggest lesson you wish you'd known 10 years ago?
"I would prioritize doing more of my own research rather than relying on the recommendations of others. This is one reason why I have KBW Ventures, and I am its CEO; I am hands-on with the decks, the calls, the pitch assessments. I decide what we're backing, and I do this after multiple layers of assessment. Early on, maybe 10 years ago, I was much more impulsive and less analytical.
Rewinding 10 years, I would invest more time in training up weak spots in my knowledge base. I would tell younger me to spend more time learning more about things that I don't know well that I would come across in business some way or another, whether it's a type of technology, or a nascent industry. Now, I don't have to actually be interested in it to really deep dive into the research around it; these days, I just want to know it for the sake of the knowledge itself. It's proven to be really valuable at this stage in my career.
A decade ago (and this also goes back to impulsiveness, and not seeing the bigger picture), I would've focused more on long-term gains, not just quick wins. This really took me time to internalize, and the benefits are massive and tangible, but you have to stick it out, plan and wait for things to mature and show their value.
I have three lessons that everyone can use.
Lesson one: I would definitely have listened more in general. Listening is so important; listen more than you talk. Wait, internalize, and then move on it.
Lesson two: I would have researched more and thought more, before making spur-of-the-moment decisions. This goes back to bigger picture planning and strategic long-term gains.
Lesson three: The most important, is to learn from people's experiences. I always go back to a key example- my father would always say, 'I'm disciplined. I have discipline.' And it was kind of one of those things, where you know, it was like, 'Okay, sure,' but, now, I know that discipline is everything. In business, in life, in fitness, and even in the pursuit of happiness, and a good life. I wish I would've internalized his experiences, and other people's so much sooner."