Ajay Mankani, the managing director of Fortes Holdings, at his office in Dubai. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Ajay Mankani, the managing director of Fortes Holdings, at his office in Dubai. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Money and me: the fine art of survival

Ajay Mankani is the co-founder and managing director of Fortes Holdings, a group of companies working across several industries including real estate, construction, education, health and trade. Mr Mankani, 44, from India, oversees a family business property development, children’s nurseries and most recently a fitness club called TribeFit. Born in the UAE, he has worked in Dubai for 20 years.

Describe your financial journey so far.

I started my career working at a construction company but soon after that I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, which was in the erstwhile Soviet Union. This was at the time of perestroika and glasnost. As a young kid I was under the impression that I could find my pot of gold at end of the rainbow. What I was doing was a commodities firm that was trading all forms of physical commodities – tea, building materials. I left Russia because the risk-reward equation didn’t become too favourable and it was too dangerous a situation. So I came back over here. I joined my father’s construction company and we expanded it into property development. My financial situation has changed dramatically, so that today I guess I have the luxury of not really having to work for money but instead can create something or enjoy what I do. When I started my career, I had work to pay my bills.

Are you a spender or saver?

I am definitely a saver. I have very few extravagances. I just live a very spartan life. I don’t take my wife every day to dinner. I like to spend my money more on my business as opposed to personal needs.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Today, money is used in society as a barometer of success. Having been in business for about 20-odd years, and having gone through various cycles of the economy – recession environments to boom environments – and having seen how easily people can earn money and lose money, money for me is just a tool where I can expand my business. Beyond that, it really doesn’t serve much purpose. I have no real affinity to money. On the other hand, I’m the first person to admit money makes your miseries comfortable.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

Lots of financial mistakes. I think one has to look at your batting average. If you’ve got a seven out of 10 batting average, you’re doing pretty well. Everyone makes financial mistakes; it’s the size of the financial mistake that you have to weather. I always like to keep a cash cushion so that one can weather downturns.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

Firstly, if I win a Dh1m then I don’t really deserve it. So if I won, I would have to give some money away just so that Lady Luck continues to favour me. I would give part to my favourite charity, but the balance I would probably plough into my savings account and some towards my business. My philosophy is not to splurge.

What has been your biggest financial lesson?

In 2008 and 2009, the world was going through a global inflationary asset cycle, and I think a lot of us in Dubai felt the brunt of that bubble, simply because a lot of people were very leveraged in their business here. In my line of work as a property developer, I saw many who went bust. One of the reasons my company survived and came out unscathed was because we had not overextended ourselves.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

My only indulgence is buying art and buying property. I have a nice collection of art. It’s by and large contemporary by a whole range of artists, from American Indian to even Iranian and Indonesian.


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Cricket World Cup League 2 Fixtures

Saturday March 5, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy (all matches start at 9.30am)

Sunday March 6, Oman v Namibia, ICC Academy

Tuesday March 8, UAE v Namibia, ICC Academy

Wednesday March 9, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy

Friday March 11, Oman v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Saturday March 12, UAE v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

UAE squad

Ahmed Raza (captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, CP Rizwan, Vriitya Aravind, Asif Khan, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Akif Raja, Rahul Bhatia

Greatest Royal Rumble results

John Cena pinned Triple H in a singles match

Cedric Alexander retained the WWE Cruiserweight title against Kalisto

Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt win the Raw Tag Team titles against Cesaro and Sheamus

Jeff Hardy retained the United States title against Jinder Mahal

Bludgeon Brothers retain the SmackDown Tag Team titles against the Usos

Seth Rollins retains the Intercontinental title against The Miz, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe

AJ Styles remains WWE World Heavyweight champion after he and Shinsuke Nakamura are both counted out

The Undertaker beats Rusev in a casket match

Brock Lesnar retains the WWE Universal title against Roman Reigns in a steel cage match

Braun Strowman won the 50-man Royal Rumble by eliminating Big Cass last

Real Madrid 1
Ronaldo (87')

Athletic Bilbao 1
Williams (14')

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Small Things Like These

Director: Tim Mielants
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Emily Watson, Eileen Walsh
Rating: 4/5

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now


What: 11th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship

When: December 27-29, 2018

Confirmed: men: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Kevin Anderson, Dominic Thiem, Hyeon Chung, Karen Khachanov; women: Venus Williams

Tickets: www.ticketmaster.ae, Virgin megastores or call 800 86 823

The most expensive investment mistake you will ever make

When is the best time to start saving in a pension? The answer is simple – at the earliest possible moment. The first pound, euro, dollar or dirham you invest is the most valuable, as it has so much longer to grow in value. If you start in your twenties, it could be invested for 40 years or more, which means you have decades for compound interest to work its magic.

“You get growth upon growth upon growth, followed by more growth. The earlier you start the process, the more it will all roll up,” says Chris Davies, chartered financial planner at The Fry Group in Dubai.

This table shows how much you would have in your pension at age 65, depending on when you start and how much you pay in (it assumes your investments grow 7 per cent a year after charges and you have no other savings).


$250 a month

$500 a month

$1,000 a month


















Closing the loophole on sugary drinks

As The National reported last year, non-fizzy sugared drinks were not covered when the original tax was introduced in 2017. Sports drinks sold in supermarkets were found to contain, on average, 20 grams of sugar per 500ml bottle.

The non-fizzy drink AriZona Iced Tea contains 65 grams of sugar – about 16 teaspoons – per 680ml can. The average can costs about Dh6, which would rise to Dh9.

Drinks such as Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccino contain 31g of sugar in 270ml, while Nescafe Mocha in a can contains 15.6g of sugar in a 240ml can.

Flavoured water, long-life fruit juice concentrates, pre-packaged sweetened coffee drinks fall under the ‘sweetened drink’ category

Not taxed:

Freshly squeezed fruit juices, ground coffee beans, tea leaves and pre-prepared flavoured milkshakes do not come under the ‘sweetened drink’ band.

UAE tour of the Netherlands

UAE squad: Rohan Mustafa (captain), Shaiman Anwar, Ghulam Shabber, Mohammed Qasim, Rameez Shahzad, Mohammed Usman, Adnan Mufti, Chirag Suri, Ahmed Raza, Imran Haider, Mohammed Naveed, Amjad Javed, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed
Fixtures and results:
Monday, UAE won by three wickets
Wednesday, 2nd 50-over match
Thursday, 3rd 50-over match

Shooting Ghosts: A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War by Thomas J. Brennan and Finbarr O’Reilly

Easter Sunday

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Stars: Jo Koy, Tia Carrere, Brandon Wardell, Lydia Gaston
Rating: 3.5/5


Main card

Robert Whittaker defeated Ikram Aliskerov via knockout (Round 1)
Alexander Volkov def Sergei Pavlovich via unanimous decision
Kelvin Gastelum def Daniel Rodriguez via unanimous decision
Shara Magomedov def Antonio Trocoli via knockout (Round 3)
Light heavyweight:
Volkan Oezdemir def Johnny Walker via knockout (Round 1)
Preliminary Card

Nasrat Haqparast def Jared Gordon via split decision
Felipe Lima def Muhammad Naimov via submission (Round 3)
Rinat Fakhretdinov defeats Nicolas Dalby via split decision
Muin Gafurov def Kang Kyung-ho via unanimous decision
Light heavyweight:
Magomed Gadzhiyasulov def Brendson Ribeiro via majority decision
Chang Ho Lee def Xiao Long via split decision



Goalkeepers: Ali Khaseif, Fahad Al Dhanhani, Mohammed Al Shamsi, Adel Al Hosani

Defenders: Bandar Al Ahbabi, Shaheen Abdulrahman, Walid Abbas, Mahmoud Khamis, Mohammed Barghash, Khalifa Al Hammadi, Hassan Al Mahrami, Yousef Jaber, Mohammed Al Attas

Midfielders: Ali Salmeen, Abdullah Ramadan, Abdullah Al Naqbi, Majed Hassan, Abdullah Hamad, Khalfan Mubarak, Khalil Al Hammadi, Tahnoun Al Zaabi, Harib Abdallah, Mohammed Jumah

Forwards: Fabio De Lima, Caio Canedo, Ali Saleh, Ali Mabkhout, Sebastian Tagliabue