Seema Shetty, the founding director of BiteRite, worked her way to the top her father’s business empire. Lee Hoagland / The National
Seema Shetty, the founding director of BiteRite, worked her way to the top her father’s business empire. Lee Hoagland / The National

BR Shetty’s daughter a chip off the old block



A lot was expected of Seema Shetty in her first internship at the age of 12. She is the youngest daughter of the company boss, BR Shetty, a man who moved to the UAE from India in 1973 with $8 in his pocket and has since built up a billion-dollar business empire. He founded New Medical Centre group of hospitals and pharmacies, and UAE Exchange, one of the largest money transfer and exchanges in the GCC.

At the age of 12, Ms Shetty started her internship in hospital filing, then was moved to reception. “They literally kicked me out and said: ‘Please don’t stay here’, as I did more damage than good,” she recalls.

Two decades on and Ms Shetty, now 33, has proved herself to be very much her father’s daughter. She is now head of training for NMC’s 10 hospitals in the UAE, and founding director of the BiteRite healthy food provider and Indian restaurant Zari Zardozi.

For BR Shetty, it was important his four children learnt the ropes of the family businesses from a young age. He put them into a summer training programme involving a week in each of his companies. Ms Shetty’s favourite was their multi-cuisine restaurant, Foodlands.

“My natural love was food, so Foodlands was a joy. I used to carry a book with me and scribble down ideas about themes and foods,” she recalls. “I had that book until college.”

After studying marketing and entrepreneurship at Boston University, Ms Shetty returned to Abu Dhabi in 2004 to work at UAE Exchange on a Dh4,000 salary. “All of us started right at the bottom. My parents made it clear that if we were going to grow in the organisation, it would be because of the recommendation of the people above us.”

A year later, Ms Shetty followed her passion for food and opened up the Indian-themed restaurant Zari Zardozi in Abu Dhabi’s Royal Meridien Hotel.

At the same time as running Zari Zardozi, Ms Shetty joined NMC. “It was very important to my father that we stayed connected to NMC,” she says.

Ms Shetty worked in patient education, talking to women’s groups about breast cancer, organising mammograms, helping smokers to quit and working with diabetes management programmes.

Her restaurant business involved sampling new foods, which led to her losing track of what she was eating. At the age of 22 and weighing 90 kilogrammes, she was diagnosed with type 2 pre-diabetes. Her parents, both diabetics themselves, made her meet a nutritionist who drew up a plan to eat half-portions of everything – something Ms Shetty says she did not like the sound of. So she decided a new plan of action was called for.

She asked the nutritionist for more specific details about what she should be eating, and asked her Zari Zardozi chef to make the dishes for her.

“After six months I looked very good. Friends saw the changes and asked: ‘Can we get that done for us?’ I started to see how we could standardise the plan for others. That’s how BiteRite was born.”

A year later in 2006, Ms Shetty started BiteRite’s online tailor-made healthy meals programme for diabetics. She also opened BiteRite Restro Cafe in Al Nahyan Camp, which she says was the UAE’s first 100 per cent healthy restaurant. Now there are three BiteRite kiosks, a delivery service in Dubai and a BiteRite presence in 17 school cafeterias across the country.

Meanwhile Zari Zardozi relocated to Al Raha Mall in Abu Dhabi in 2008. Ms Shetty has also bagged a spot for a new Zari Zardozi at Dubai’s soon-to-be-built Palm Jumeirah Mall.

Somewhere among all these enterprises, Ms Shetty has also found time to have a family. The subject of work-life balance is close to her heart and she will be hosting a master class on how to manage your home and career as part of the Women’s Peak Performance Summit taking place on Saturday at Abu Dhabi’s Eastern Mangroves Hotel.

After giving up work for a year when each of her children (now aged one and three) were born, she says she prefers to work.

“When I finish everything here, I go home and feel like I’ve done significant things – I’ve helped somebody, or solved a problem – and my child goes ‘Mummy’ and jumps on me with this big smile,” she says. “I don’t feel bad about leaving her because I get to enjoy that moment. The only guilt is the guilt we put on ourselves.”

business@thenational.ae

See http://www.womenspeakperformance.com/ for details about the Women's Peak Performance Summit.

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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

All The Light We Cannot See

Creator: Steven Knight

Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, Aria Mia Loberti

Rating: 1/5 

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

The Roundup : No Way Out

Director: Lee Sang-yong
Stars: Don Lee, Lee Jun-hyuk, Munetaka Aoki
Rating: 3/5

Company profile

Date started: 2015

Founder: John Tsioris and Ioanna Angelidaki

Based: Dubai

Sector: Online grocery delivery

Staff: 200

Funding: Undisclosed, but investors include the Jabbar Internet Group and Venture Friends

The Facility’s Versatility

Between the start of the 2020 IPL on September 20, and the end of the Pakistan Super League this coming Thursday, the Zayed Cricket Stadium has had an unprecedented amount of traffic.
Never before has a ground in this country – or perhaps anywhere in the world – had such a volume of major-match cricket.
And yet scoring has remained high, and Abu Dhabi has seen some classic encounters in every format of the game.
 
October 18, IPL, Kolkata Knight Riders tied with Sunrisers Hyderabad
The two playoff-chasing sides put on 163 apiece, before Kolkata went on to win the Super Over
 
January 8, ODI, UAE beat Ireland by six wickets
A century by CP Rizwan underpinned one of UAE’s greatest ever wins, as they chased 270 to win with an over to spare
 
February 6, T10, Northern Warriors beat Delhi Bulls by eight wickets
The final of the T10 was chiefly memorable for a ferocious over of fast bowling from Fidel Edwards to Nicholas Pooran
 
March 14, Test, Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe by six wickets
Eleven wickets for Rashid Khan, 1,305 runs scored in five days, and a last session finish
 
June 17, PSL, Islamabad United beat Peshawar Zalmi by 15 runs
Usman Khawaja scored a hundred as Islamabad posted the highest score ever by a Pakistan team in T20 cricket

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Company Profile

Company: Astra Tech
Started: March 2022
Based: Dubai
Founder: Abdallah Abu Sheikh
Industry: technology investment and development
Funding size: $500m

Brahmastra: Part One - Shiva

Director: Ayan Mukerji

Stars: Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan

Rating: 2/5

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Pad Man

Dir: R Balki

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte

Three-and-a-half stars

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Vault
Started: June 2023
Co-founders: Bilal Abou-Diab and Sami Abdul Hadi
Based: Abu Dhabi
Licensed by: Abu Dhabi Global Market
Industry: Investment and wealth advisory
Funding: $1 million
Investors: Outliers VC and angel investors
Number of employees: 14

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

While you're here
How to get exposure to gold

Although you can buy gold easily on the Dubai markets, the problem with buying physical bars, coins or jewellery is that you then have storage, security and insurance issues.

A far easier option is to invest in a low-cost exchange traded fund (ETF) that invests in the precious metal instead, for example, ETFS Physical Gold (PHAU) and iShares Physical Gold (SGLN) both track physical gold. The VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF invests directly in mining companies.

Alternatively, BlackRock Gold & General seeks to achieve long-term capital growth primarily through an actively managed portfolio of gold mining, commodity and precious-metal related shares. Its largest portfolio holdings include gold miners Newcrest Mining, Barrick Gold Corp, Agnico Eagle Mines and the NewMont Goldcorp.

Brave investors could take on the added risk of buying individual gold mining stocks, many of which have performed wonderfully well lately.

London-listed Centamin is up more than 70 per cent in just three months, although in a sign of its volatility, it is down 5 per cent on two years ago. Trans-Siberian Gold, listed on London's alternative investment market (AIM) for small stocks, has seen its share price almost quadruple from 34p to 124p over the same period, but do not assume this kind of runaway growth can continue for long

However, buying individual equities like these is highly risky, as their share prices can crash just as quickly, which isn't what what you want from a supposedly safe haven.

Signs of heat stroke
  • The loss of sodium chloride in our sweat can lead to confusion and an altered mental status and slurred speech
  • Body temperature above 39°C
  • Hot, dry and red or damp skin can indicate heatstroke
  • A faster pulse than usual
  • Dizziness, nausea and headaches are also signs of overheating
  • In extreme cases, victims can lose consciousness and require immediate medical attention
Which honey takes your fancy?

Al Ghaf Honey

The Al Ghaf tree is a local desert tree which bears the harsh summers with drought and high temperatures. From the rich flowers, bees that pollinate this tree can produce delicious red colour honey in June and July each year

Sidr Honey

The Sidr tree is an evergreen tree with long and strong forked branches. The blossom from this tree is called Yabyab, which provides rich food for bees to produce honey in October and November. This honey is the most expensive, but tastiest

Samar Honey

The Samar tree trunk, leaves and blossom contains Barm which is the secret of healing. You can enjoy the best types of honey from this tree every year in May and June. It is an historical witness to the life of the Emirati nation which represents the harsh desert and mountain environments

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League, last-16. first leg

Atletico Madrid v Juventus, midnight (Thursday), BeIN Sports

Know before you go
  • Jebel Akhdar is a two-hour drive from Muscat airport or a six-hour drive from Dubai. It’s impossible to visit by car unless you have a 4x4. Phone ahead to the hotel to arrange a transfer.
  • If you’re driving, make sure your insurance covers Oman.
  • By air: Budget airlines Air Arabia, Flydubai and SalamAir offer direct routes to Muscat from the UAE.
  • Tourists from the Emirates (UAE nationals not included) must apply for an Omani visa online before arrival at evisa.rop.gov.om. The process typically takes several days.
  • Flash floods are probable due to the terrain and a lack of drainage. Always check the weather before venturing into any canyons or other remote areas and identify a plan of escape that includes high ground, shelter and parking where your car won’t be overtaken by sudden downpours.

 

A little about CVRL

Founded in 1985 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) is a government diagnostic centre that provides testing and research facilities to the UAE and neighbouring countries.

One of its main goals is to provide permanent treatment solutions for veterinary related diseases. 

The taxidermy centre was established 12 years ago and is headed by Dr Ulrich Wernery.