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Change Is Good: Business Evolution Is Not For The Faint-Hearted If a business is to grow, it needs to be ready and right-size itself to enable it to grow. But what does it mean to right size for growth?

By Mohamed Al Zaabi Edited by Aby Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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While we pursue and are comfortable with growth, we are often hesitant about change. But to grow continually and effectively, we must welcome and delight in change. They are two sides of the same coin.

As the CEO of Abu Dhabi-based real estate development, management, and investment company Miral, I've seen that our first 10 years have been a series of achievements and success stories, thanks in large part to the commitment our team, our partners, and our leaders who have provided us with both their tremendous support and perseverance to realize our vision. In the last decade, we have conceived, created, operated, and managed immersive destinations and experiences that have attracted visitors from across the world to create memories and spark joy, accelerating the realization of the Emirate's tourism vision and growth.

We have also played a crucial role in shaping a robust destination strategy for Yas Island that has contributed to the Emirate's consistent growth, a pipeline of new attractions and experiences, and new products and services that reinforce its vision. Due to the success to this, we have recently been appointed by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) to do the same for Saadiyat Island.

This decade of success and track record of excellence has positioned us as a trusted, progressive partner within the industry, globally and locally, with our world-leading experiences and attractions delivering sustainable and long-term value, contributing to the positioning of Abu Dhabi as a global tourism hub.

It would be easy for us to continue as is, but if we are to grow, we need to ready our business and right-size it to enable us to grow. What does it mean to right size for growth?

Firstly, it means realigning your vision by first reviewing what has been achieved, and then retooling it for the best possible future based on the future and present in that order, not the past. Because, as Marshall Goldsmith famously said, "What got us here will not get us there."

Related: Making Change Happen: Why Partnerships With Purpose Are The Way Forward

Mohamed Al Zaabi, CEO, Miral. Image courtesy Miral

If we look at some of our projects we have coming up, it gives me confidence that we are already future proofing ourselves by delivering innovative and unique experiences that will elevate tourism within the capital.

Next year, in partnership with SeaWorld Parks Entertainment, we will open the next-generation marine-life theme park, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi. Yas Island's latest mega-development will include the UAE's first dedicated marine research, rescue, rehabilitation and return center.

In 2024, and in partnership with DCT Abu Dhabi and teamLab, the globally acclaimed, interdisciplinary Tokyo-based art collective, we will welcome guests to teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi. This will be an immersive, inspirational space where the intersection of art and technology will ignite curiosity, imagination, and creativity in all who visit. In 2025, we will delight visitors to the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi who will travel on a 14-billion-year journey through time and space, from the Big Bang to a thought-provoking perspective into our Earth's future. So, truly, the future is happening now.

Secondly, right-sizing for growth means ensuring that the vision has buy-in across your operations. It isn't enough for only the people at the top to see the potential, because true and successful reinvention requires wholehearted and wholesale adaptation. Leaders can spark and nurture innovation, but a spark without the right fuel, the right conditions, and the right environment will be snuffed out and fail to ignite anything at all. I am so proud of the committed team we have built at the Miral group, which today stands at 2300 employees and growing, and have been instrumental in the success we have seen in the last decade.

Third, it means doing this over and over again, which is easier said than done. Change might be a constant, but it is never easy. However, there are many ways to alleviate our discomfort with change, and many reasons to do so– not least to continue to deliver on our purpose, whether as humans or as organizations.

In the coming week, Miral will make a significant announcement regarding our future. We know that this is a good thing, an enviable position to be in, because it is the natural result of success, and a precursor to sustaining that success. At the same time, it also sets out new challenges for us to meet, new audiences to serve in new ways, and the opportunity to cement ourselves as a truly global leader, capable of evolving and succeeding well into the future.

Stay tuned to hear more about what this change will entail, and what it means for Miral and all our partners and stakeholders.

Related: When Two Become One: M&A As A Growth Strategy For Your Startup

Mohamed Al Zaabi

CEO, Miral

Mohamed Al Zaabi is the Chief Executive Officer of Miral Asset Management. He joined the company in 2015 and helped establish Miral as one of the leading curators of experiences in the region. 

Al Zaabi currently oversees the management and business strategy of Miral’s expanding portfolio on Yas Island Abu Dhabi, positioning it as a top global destination for entertainment, leisure and business through immersive experiences and world-class attractions. 

Through Al Zaabi’s leadership, Miral has invested over AED 9 billion into completed projects on Yas Island successfully forging key business partnerships with some of the world’s most recognizable leisure and entertainment brands, including SeaWorld Entertainment Inc and Warner Bros. Underscoring Al Zaabi’s success, today Yas Island is home to an array of award-winning experiences and in 2019 attracted 29 million visitations. 

After his period in the military, he joined a subsidiary of Emirates Advanced Investment, as Head of Integrated Technologies. Al Zaabi then made his first venture into project and construction development in 2008 when he joined Aldar Properties PJSC. He worked across various business units, including as Head of Integrated Technologies, Director of Estates and Director of Strategic Investments. 

His current board positions include; Chairman of Experience Hub, the trade and promotion arm of Yas Island Abu Dhabi and a subsidiary of Miral, and Member of the Board of Directors at Farah Experiences LLC, manager and operator of entertainment experiences on Yas Island Abu Dhabi. 

He was the first Emirati to receive the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certificate from Cisco, one of the world’s most prestigious certifications in the IT industry. Al Zaabi holds an Executive MBA from INSEAD and an MSc in Strategic Project Planning from Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from UAE University. 

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