I came to Dubai in 1997. Soon after that, my father gave me Dh500,000 when he divided his savings up equally between me and my two brothers. I was born in Pakistan and grew up in Libya. I came to Dubai for a good future - to make money. I'm now 32. When I came to Dubai I was working as a manager in a building materials shop in the purchasing department. Initially, I didn't spend one dirham of my father's money. I didn't know what to do with it. I needed some local experience and needed to get to know the people. After one year I quit the job and started working independently. I began going to Japan frequently, for three years, exporting used cars from Japan to Dubai.
Buying and selling, buying and selling. I injected the cash and I made some money out of that. It was a boom time for used-car trading and I worked really hard. Then in 2001 I set up a small technical services firm, MKM Technical Works, starting with eight employees. It was a golden moment for everyone - those who wanted to get into any kind of business. Office rents were really low. At that time there was a lot of growth in Dubai. A big break came in 2003, when we won a Dh1.8 million contract for the renovation of the Barracuda Beach Resort in Umm al Qaiwain. Now the company has 38 workers. We do all kinds of maintenance work, including aircon installation. I later set up a small construction company, Welkin Contracting, which had 20 employees.
My father had a photography studio in Libya. He worked for the government in Pakistan, but quit that job to set up his own business in Libya, which is how I ended up there. I thought that rather than sticking to one country and staying in the same business, I should try my luck. It clicked in Dubai for me. In 2005, I got into trading on the stock market. I had enough capital from the profits of my companies, and I decided to invest in the Dubai Financial Market Exchange. I started with a small amount of liquidity and made a lot of money. Although the margin of profit is getting lower now, we are not in the red zone.
Investing was a new trend in the country at that time. I used to watch experts talk on television about share prices, but I didn't really know much about it. But a lot of people in Dubai were investing in the market, so I visited the floor for a couple of days to see what it was like. I liked it. I used to hit the floor at 8am, when a lot of people would be there. It was really easy. I used to buy shares and wait outside at the coffee shop and watch the ticker.
I initially put a small amount of money to work because I wasn't really that knowledgable about investing. I started with Dh1 million. Then I increased the capital as I learnt more. As I started making thousands of dirhams in profit, I kept increasing the funds. I offloaded all my stocks in 2008, as I had to concentrate on my businesses. You have to focus, because it's money matters. I came back to the market in early 2009. My decision was perfect. When the entire world was hit by a financial crisis, I managed to buy some shares at good prices. Many shares were hitting their lows.
This is what is happening now, and there are opportunities to jump in. I never listen to any of my friends, and always make my own decision. I recently lost about Dh300,000 in the stock markets just over a few days, but I cannot consider that money to be a loss as such, because I made Dh700,000 in the two months previous to those days. I'm still in the black overall. A lot of investors lost a lot of money late last year. The problem with the market was that there were no buyers because of the Dubai World issues. I wanted to sell my stock but couldn't.
If you look at the prices now, you can't even get candy for some of the share prices on the Dubai Financial Market. I'm talking about shares that are below Dh1. I'm going to buy these shares in bulk and hold them. For now I've sold most of my shares and I'm keeping cash. If I'm buying something, I'm usually selling it straight away, but when the shares go down slightly more, I'm going to buy them and hold them.
When things are at a peak, they are risky. But, when things are touching lows, nothing is risky. The prices are already devalued. There are opportunities. I'm sure people can make some money. We're just waiting for good news. I'm still confident in the market, and would advise people to get some funds ready; they could make some money if they wait for the right time. If you buy at low levels and the prices go up by 30 fils, I would say that you shouldn't sell the shares because you're already in a secure position. It's already above your purchasing price so it doesn't matter if it falls, but you have to establish in your own mind what your targets are.
One of my strategies at the moment is that if Emaar goes down further I will buy about 500,000 shares and then I will wait for the prices to double. I do believe the market will recover. I've been in the market for almost five years and there other buying opportunities like Emaar. Let us wait and watch. I've also invested in some bonds and put some money into the Mashreq Millionaire programme. It's a saving scheme that gives you an opportunity to win a million dirhams. These things only click once in a blue moon, but you never know. Anyone could be lucky.
When I'm gaining money, I'm spending money on myself. Humans are never satisfied - even if you get one billion, you will still cry for more. I'm fulfilling my dreams. I'm a frequent traveller and I have a Bentley. It's not that I'm just saving and saving. I'm spending the money on myself and whatever I want to do. * As told to Rebecca Bundhun