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The Model Entrepreneur

May 2016

Business Islamica speaks to Obaid bin Touq, Chairman of Bin Touq Fire and Safety. An Emirati entrepreneur with ambition, vision, and an unparalleled love for his city- Bin Touq tells us exclusively, why Dubai is an entrepreneurs dream city.

What defines entrepreneurship in the Middle East?

I believe the same principles that apply to entrepreneurship elsewhere. A lot of daring, perseverance, innovation and a solid business plan. Of course, the UAE’s government are bearers of an entrepreneurial torch and encourages that spark in each and every one of us.

In the gulf, entrepreneurship, ownership and trade have always been a part of our heritage’s fabric- and that has not changed. Although I cannot speak on the specifics that differentiates entrepreneurship in different parts of the Middle East – I do believe the UAE government serves entrepreneurs and SME’s with the platforms and services to accommodate their trade – and ensure that their reputation for transparency and fairness stays intact. I am proud to be a business owner in the UAE.

What defines entrepreneurship in Dubai?

I am a firm believer in this mantra ‘nothing is impossible; keep planning, keep trying and keep moving- nothing is riskier than stopping’

That is the spirit the city of Dubai has adopted, and it has imparted that on its citizens, residents and visitors alike. Dubai attracts the best of the best from around the world, whether it is in cuisine, litigation or project development- you are going up against the best the world has to offer. And so, you cannot afford to chain yourself to a certain market or order of operations. You need to constantly improve, challenge and grow yourself and your organization. I believe that would define entrepreneurship in Dubai.

What are some of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the Middle East that may hinder their growth?

Like I mentioned earlier, if SMEs and entrepreneurs are not provided the proper platforms and/or support by the government in terms of expanding the services provided by the Trade and Economic department, then they are sure to head to an environment that is conducive, that provides security and ease of business for both the sellers and the consumers. Secondly, entrepreneur is a job title that never comes easily to anyone. There is no manual, success formula or education that can prepare you to become a successful business owner- regardless of how many workshops tell you otherwise!

You can learn tips and tricks and improve the business inside and out – but at the end of the day, there are so many variables to entrepreneurship. As far as challenges are concerned, they differ greatly from region to region. Again, the challenges faced by those in the Levant region are nowhere similar to those in the Gulf and vice versa. The socio political climate in the Middle East is given the blanket treatment by international media, and that might give first time investors or collaborators the jitters. But for those who take the time to visit the region, they realize it is diverse and profitable and ever growing,

What does the BIN TOUQ brand mean to you?

On a personal note, the Bin Touq brand carries the legacy of the Bin Touq family, as a strong and dynamic brand with loyalty, awareness, association and perception of quality. It should be remembered in the consumer’s mind as a strong brand which gives them complete protection from Fire & Safety.

What should the BIN TOUQ brand be to consumers?

Bin Touq as a Brand established its presence amongst the consumer in UAE with trust and reliability on the scope of work pertains to Fire Fighting and Safety. It further acknowledged by Dubai Civil Defense declaring Bin Touq Fire & Safety as an A+ category of Fire Contractor in the UAE Market.

What is your favorite aspect of your role as Chairman?

I believe in building a strong relationship and understanding each customer’s specific needs, securing and developing an unprecedented range and quality of Fire protection and Safety activities in the UAE marketplace. 

I enjoy taking care of, and making our 600 associates work in a peaceful and productive environment, delivering excellent service on major projects as well as sensible, high quality systems solutions. We have committed to continuous improvement through customer feedback.

You are a member  of the Dubai Icon Encyclopedia board, why did this project interest you?

It’s an honor to be on the board, and what drew me to the project is what I believe will interest UAE’s citizens and residents as well – is the encyclopedia’s beautiful illustration and evolution of our city. Dubai has always been, and always will be proud of its past, its present and future- and going through the encyclopedia; people will see that Dubai is a miracle in the making, forged by vision and hard work.  The encyclopedia to me, is a love letter to a beautiful city, and a thank you to our ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, for his vision, work and continuous inspiration to make ourselves, and Dubai the best. 

How do you believe corporations and businesses can contribute to their communities better?

SMEs are the backbone of the economy, and are supported primarily by their communities. In the same sense, by opening new businesses, providing employment opportunities as well as helping to gentrify the communities they operate in- businesses ‘invest’ in their communities. Furthermore, by reaching out to families and other SMEs in the community, business owners can have a better understanding of what is needed, and what is lacking. Whether it is providing internships to the community youth, or organizing fundraisers to better the neighborhood. The recent launch of the Sheikh Mohammed initiative dealing with Waqf is also a fantastic example of the community – business owners and government being able to benefit from an endowment that serves everyone positively.

Any closing remarks?

Well, firstly, believing that impossible is nothing! Then responding quickly to opportunities and not letting them pass by. It’s also hugely important that we ensure our services are the best in terms of competency, quality and safety for the environment.

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