Sassan Dieter Khatib Shahidi survived an early crisis with his ink company. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Sassan Dieter Khatib Shahidi survived an early crisis with his ink company. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Money & Me: Dubai businessman learnt lessons from near-bankruptcy



Sassan Dieter Khatib Shahidi is the co-founder and chief executive of German Imaging Technologies (GIT), a toner cartridge manufacturer in Dubai that launched in 1999. The 47-year-old German-Iranian says the company’s fortunes have been eventful. GIT now has 80 employees.

Describe your financial journey so far.

I was educated as a corporate attorney and started by practising in Frankfurt in one of the top-10 law firms. By 26, I was earning more than Dh300,000 a year and was well-off as an employed person. After 10 years of working as a lawyer, I changed careers and became an entrepreneur. I used to come to Dubai on business trips, as my expertise was the Middle East. In 1999, along with two co-founders, I set up GIT with Dh1.5 million from our own funds. Low labour costs and taxation advantages in Dubai were attractive. We started by catering to one company, which was in Germany. But in 2000, it went bankrupt and we accumulated debt of about Dh2.5 million. I personally had US$20 in my pocket and we could not pay salaries for five months. We started with 40 staff members and went down to nine employees. We still have five or six employees from that time who believed in our vision. In the past five years, the company’s average growth rate was 25 per cent per year in revenue.

Are you a spender or saver?

I am a smart spender. I like spending, but its value for me lies in the experience. I don’t like looking at a pile of money and watching it grow like Scrooge McDuck.

What is your philosophy towards money?

For me, money brings convenience, comfort and most importantly experience, whether it is travelling, dining, adventuring or mountain climbing. I value a car that I like to drive, a famous red brand, but I thoroughly enjoy driving and that’s why I chose that car, not because it is a status symbol. A certain amount of money is required to cover the basic needs, and that depends on the person. Everything beyond that need level is a luxury.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

I am quite fortunate that I haven’t make any big mistakes. But in the first or second year of my legal career I had some savings and gave $15,000 to a private banker who invested it into the stock market. That $15,000 melted to $1,500 on paper, but in reality I never saw any of it again because his fees ate it up as well. I have shunned stock markets since. Business is the No 1 area where I put my money, and the second is property. I do not consider the near-bankruptcy we faced in 2000 after our client collapsed a mistake, because it was a valuable experience. It taught me the importance of cash flow.

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

It would go into my property portfolio or into my other investment portfolios.

What has been your best investment?

Definitely GIT. In the past 15 years we have grown to have six offices. It gives me the energy to get up in the morning. And we will be expanding in the Arabian Gulf and Africa in the next 10 years. Also, I invested in a mobile health platform in England last January, and within one year it grew six-fold. I became the key investor by acquiring 3 per cent of the company.

Do you plan for the future?

Of course. I have a 10-year-old son. We build for the family and the next generation. You want to give the best possible education to your children.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

Experiences. Last year, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya in seven days. That was the most fulfilling experience of my life.

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Empty Words

By Mario Levrero  

(Coffee House Press)
 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Iftar programme at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

Established in 1998, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding was created with a vision to teach residents about the traditions and customs of the UAE. Its motto is ‘open doors, open minds’. All year-round, visitors can sign up for a traditional Emirati breakfast, lunch or dinner meal, as well as a range of walking tours, including ones to sites such as the Jumeirah Mosque or Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood.

Every year during Ramadan, an iftar programme is rolled out. This allows guests to break their fast with the centre’s presenters, visit a nearby mosque and observe their guides while they pray. These events last for about two hours and are open to the public, or can be booked for a private event.

Until the end of Ramadan, the iftar events take place from 7pm until 9pm, from Saturday to Thursday. Advanced booking is required.

For more details, email openminds@cultures.ae or visit www.cultures.ae

 

BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE

Director: Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Joe Pantoliano

Rating: 3.5/5

Voy! Voy! Voy!

Director: Omar Hilal
Stars: Muhammad Farrag, Bayoumi Fouad, Nelly Karim
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid

When: April 25, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 1, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

Tips to avoid getting scammed

1) Beware of cheques presented late on Thursday

2) Visit an RTA centre to change registration only after receiving payment

3) Be aware of people asking to test drive the car alone

4) Try not to close the sale at night

5) Don't be rushed into a sale 

6) Call 901 if you see any suspicious behaviour

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

FA CUP FINAL

Manchester City 6
(D Silva 26', Sterling 38', 81', 87', De Bruyne 61', Jesus 68')

Watford 0

Man of the match: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Name: Peter Dicce

Title: Assistant dean of students and director of athletics

Favourite sport: soccer

Favourite team: Bayern Munich

Favourite player: Franz Beckenbauer

Favourite activity in Abu Dhabi: scuba diving in the Northern Emirates 

 

Biography

Favourite drink: Must have karak chai and Chinese tea every day

Favourite non-Chinese food: Arabic sweets and Indian puri, small round bread of wheat flour

Favourite Chinese dish: Spicy boiled fish or anything cooked by her mother because of its flavour

Best vacation: Returning home to China

Music interests: Enjoys playing the zheng, a string musical instrument

Enjoys reading: Chinese novels, romantic comedies, reading up on business trends, government policy changes

Favourite book: Chairman Mao Zedong’s poems

Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

UK - UAE Trade

Total trade in goods and services (exports plus imports) between the UK and the UAE in 2022 was £21.6 billion (Dh98 billion). 

This is an increase of 63.0 per cent or £8.3 billion in current prices from the four quarters to the end of 2021.

 

The UAE was the UK’s 19th largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q4 2022 accounting for 1.3 per cent of total UK trade.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SupplyVan
Based: Dubai, UAE
Launch year: 2017
Number of employees: 29
Sector: MRO and e-commerce
Funding: Seed

AS WE EXIST

Author: Kaoutar Harchi 

Publisher: Other Press

Pages: 176

Available: Now

Electric scooters: some rules to remember
  • Riders must be 14-years-old or over
  • Wear a protective helmet
  • Park the electric scooter in designated parking lots (if any)
  • Do not leave electric scooter in locations that obstruct traffic or pedestrians
  • Solo riders only, no passengers allowed
  • Do not drive outside designated lanes
PULITZER PRIZE 2020 WINNERS

JOURNALISM 

Public Service
Anchorage Daily News in collaboration with ProPublica

Breaking News Reporting
Staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.

Investigative Reporting
Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times

Explanatory Reporting
Staff of The Washington Post

Local Reporting  
Staff of The Baltimore Sun

National Reporting
T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica

and    

Dominic Gates, Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb of The Seattle Times

International Reporting
Staff of The New York Times

Feature Writing
Ben Taub of The New Yorker

Commentary
Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times

Criticism
Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times

Editorial Writing
Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine (Tx.) Herald-Press

Editorial Cartooning
Barry Blitt, contributor, The New Yorker

Breaking News Photography
Photography Staff of Reuters

Feature Photography
Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of the Associated Press

Audio Reporting
Staff of This American Life with Molly O’Toole of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Green, freelancer, Vice News for “The Out Crowd”

LETTERS AND DRAMA

Fiction
"The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

Drama
"A Strange Loop" by Michael R. Jackson

History
"Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America" by W. Caleb McDaniel (Oxford University Press)

Biography
"Sontag: Her Life and Work" by Benjamin Moser (Ecco/HarperCollins)

Poetry
"The Tradition" by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)

General Nonfiction
"The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care" by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

and

"The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America" by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)

Music
"The Central Park Five" by Anthony Davis, premiered by Long Beach Opera on June 15, 2019

Special Citation
Ida B. Wells

 

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

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