Success indebted to no one

Money and me: As the managing director of Al Bogari Holdings, Farook Kassim spends more time planning his business's financial future than his own.

Farook Kassim arrived in Dubai 38 years ago on a short-term visa. He was charmed by the city and decided to stay. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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As the managing director of Al Bogari Holdings, a Dubai-based trading and investment firm that launched the online retail business JadoPado two years ago, Farook Kassim spends more time planning his business's financial future than his own. But the Sri Lankan businessman still finds time to spend on his family and charity as well as travel, both for business and pleasure.

How would you describe your financial journey so far?

I'd say my journey started when I came to Dubai from Sri Lanka in 1975 for two weeks as my family had incorporated a company and wanted me as one of the directors. I had a short-term visa and the intention was I would return to Sri Lanka afterwards. But they had a business in one of the souqs and I was surrounded by the charms of Dubai and ended up deciding to stay. Back then my awareness of personal finance was zero. I would remit the equivalent of £5 (Dh28) back to Sri Lanka every so often to support my family. Now there are so many products on the market to make it easier to manage your money.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I'm a saver. I believe in making your money work for you and expanding from that. I stopped borrowing in 1983 as I wanted to be Sharia-compliant. I have always saved to support my family and as a way to build my earnings and retirement in the future.

What's your philosophy regarding money?

If you don't look after your money, it won't look after you. I also believe in spending what you have and no more than that. I've been against borrowing for many years, both in a business and personal sense.

What are the challenges of starting a business here?

Having a business in this part of the world is challenging but starting a business back in the 1970s was very simple. We needed a bank guarantee of Dh100,000 and didn't need a local partner, so it was easy to establish. Since then we have had to find a local partner. Still, doing business in the UAE is easier than the other 20 countries in which we operate.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

I have made many mistakes in my 38 years but nothing major that has impeded the group of companies. Back before 1983 we used to do leveraged commodity products and that didn't go so well for us as we were not Sharia-compliant and the market didn't go our way.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

From a personal perspective, I don't think I'm much of a financial planner. I don't think retirement is an option for me and I pray that I work to my last day as business is my passion.

Is money important to you?

Money is important and is important to everyone, but having a good family and successful business is more important. I am grateful to God for that. I'm much more mature in my outlook than I was when I started out in business. I have a family to think about as well as a business and money is important to support both of them.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

My idea of financial freedom is driving my Rolls-Royce around in Dubai and being able to travel to visit cities and countries I have yet to see. I believe I'm only halfway through my journey as I've travelled to 80 countries, but there are plenty more on my list.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

My family, travelling and having good clothes and food. I spend money on travelling to the three other countries where I'm a board member: South Africa, Singapore and Sri Lanka. But I also enjoy spending money on charity, mainly to Islamic charities and the Zakat Fund. I believe it's important to give back to the community either through money or time.