Aly Rahimtoola says he is focusing this part of his life on building his brand. Victor Besa for The National
Aly Rahimtoola says he is focusing this part of his life on building his brand. Victor Besa for The National

Money & Me: UAE cosmetics entrepreneur says earn it before you spend it

Aly Rahimtoola is the managing director of Harmony Cosmetics. The 45-year-old, from Pakistan and the UK, grew up in London, continuing his education at Brown University in the US. After moving to the UAE 20 years ago to work in the family shipping business, in 2006 he founded Herbal Essentials – a UAE-based consumer beauty brand, which retails in more than 200 pharmacy chains.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I was taught that if you want something then you have to earn it. Whether it was earning extra pocket money for washing the family car on weekends or taking intern jobs during university to add to my allowance, nothing is, or should be, given away for free.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

My first summer job at university in 1990 was as an office clerk in a London shipping company and I earned £10 (Dh53) per week. When I graduated in 1992 I got a job as a corporate finance analyst for a Wall Street investment bank in New York earning around US$30,000 annually - or about Dh9,000 a month before taxes – I was thrilled.

Are you spender or saver?

I’m naturally inclined to spend and enjoy the fruits of hard work, but am learning to be a saver especially with a young family – including a wife and son – and school fees ahead.

What is your most cherished purchase?

I’m not naturally a watch person, but I recall seeing a classic Dunhill timepiece and spending some of my first bonus on that. I still have it today, although it needs to be serviced.

Have you ever had a month where you feared you could you not pay the bills?

Yes. I ran a shipping business for 17 years from 1994 to 2011. During that time we never really had an issue with cash flow, but when we switched full-time to building up Herbal Essentials in 2011, we had some issues, especially when the 2009 recession hit. At that time, getting paid one’s trade receivables from the market became almost a full-time job. The lesson from that experience is to limit your business dealings to counter parties that are solid on the credit side, which isn’t always that easy to fathom in the UAE. It’s a useful piece of advice this year as economic headwinds seem to be gathering again.

Where do you save?

A lot of my wealth is in the business as well as real estate, but I have several savings plans being built up from my monthly income.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

Earlier on it was always on the credit card until I realised that it’s better to use cash. I rarely remember to carry cash, but debit cards are a saving grace. Try to live within your means and keep the credit card for emergencies or the odd indulgence.

What has been your best investment?

Switching from an established career in shipping to creating Herbal Essentials. I might not have seen the cash payout yet but the business has grown and will continue to do so. And in time it will give me a financial return that will far outstrip investing in equities or bonds. More importantly, the amount I’ve learnt in how to build a brand is actually my greatest asset or return. It’s Invaluable.

Do you have a plan for the future?

I’m in my mid-40s and right now I’m focused on building my brand into something special. I do have a 10-year plan to build this – after that, who knows? Maybe I’ll try to take it easier and spend more time with my family as I would like to turn the running of the business over to a team by then.

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

Give a certain amount to charities helping children. The world we live in is a mess and I think everyone should try to make it a better. I’d also take my family somewhere new; the rest would be invested safely for a rainy day.

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DMZ facts
  • The DMZ was created as a buffer after the 1950-53 Korean War.
  • It runs 248 kilometers across the Korean Peninsula and is 4km wide.
  • The zone is jointly overseen by the US-led United Nations Command and North Korea.
  • It is littered with an estimated 2 million mines, tank traps, razor wire fences and guard posts.
  • Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un met at a building in Panmunjom, where an armistice was signed to stop the Korean War.
  • Panmunjom is 52km north of the Korean capital Seoul and 147km south of Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital.
  • Former US president Bill Clinton visited Panmunjom in 1993, while Ronald Reagan visited the DMZ in 1983, George W. Bush in 2002 and Barack Obama visited a nearby military camp in 2012. 
  • Mr Trump planned to visit in November 2017, but heavy fog that prevented his helicopter from landing.
The Boy and the Heron

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Starring: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Ko Shibasaki

Rating: 5/5

World Cup 2023 ticket sales

August 25 – Non-India warm-up matches and all non-India event matches
August 30 – India matches at Guwahati and Trivandrum
August 31 – India matches at Chennai, Delhi and Pune
September 1 – India matches at Dharamsala, Lucknow and Mumbai
September 2 – India matches at Bengaluru and Kolkata
September 3 – India matches at Ahmedabad
September 15 – Semi-finals and Final

The Bio

Amal likes watching Japanese animation movies and Manga - her favourite is The Ancient Magus Bride

She is the eldest of 11 children, and has four brothers and six sisters.

Her dream is to meet with all of her friends online from around the world who supported her work throughout the years

Her favourite meal is pizza and stuffed vine leaves

She ams to improve her English and learn Japanese, which many animated programmes originate in

The specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 217hp at 5,750rpm

Torque: 300Nm at 1,900rpm

Transmission: eight-speed auto

Price: from Dh130,000

On sale: now

If you go

There are regular flights from Dubai to Kathmandu. Fares with Air Arabia and flydubai start at Dh1,265.
In Kathmandu, rooms at the Oasis Kathmandu Hotel start at Dh195 and Dh120 at Hotel Ganesh Himal.
Third Rock Adventures offers professionally run group and individual treks and tours using highly experienced guides throughout Nepal, Bhutan and other parts of the Himalayas.


Uefa Champioons League semi-final:

First leg: Liverpool 5 Roma 2

Second leg: Wednesday, May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

TV: BeIN Sports, 10.45pm (UAE)

What is type-1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a genetic and unavoidable condition, rather than the lifestyle-related type 2 diabetes.

It occurs mostly in people under 40 and a result of the pancreas failing to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugars.

Too much or too little blood sugar can result in an attack where sufferers lose consciousness in serious cases.

Being overweight or obese increases the chances of developing the more common type 2 diabetes.

THE BIO: Martin Van Almsick

Hometown: Cologne, Germany

Family: Wife Hanan Ahmed and their three children, Marrah (23), Tibijan (19), Amon (13)

Favourite dessert: Umm Ali with dark camel milk chocolate flakes

Favourite hobby: Football

Breakfast routine: a tall glass of camel milk

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Power: 650hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 800Nm from 2,500-4,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Fuel consumption: 11.12L/100km

Price: From Dh796,600

On sale: now

Brief scores:

Day 2

England: 277 & 19-0

West Indies: 154

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

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.”

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

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