Money & Me: ‘I believe in investing in myself'

Ahmed Al Fahim, an Emirati serial entrepreneur, applies money lessons from his childhood to his many businesses

Ahmed Al Fahim says his farm is one of his cherished purchases because it serves as a getaway for the family and himself. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Ahmed Al Fahim is the founder and chief executive of Spot, a food and beverage operator in Abu Dhabi that was launched in 2018 and provides spaces to popular local F&B brands to nurture their businesses.

The Emirati is a serial entrepreneur who has launched many start-ups, including Mass Events (an events agency), The Rage (an annual flagship event), Scoot (an electric scooter shared mobility company) and Shot Specialty Coffee (a premium speciality coffee brand), over the past decade.

Mr Al Fahim, 34, lives in Abu Dhabi with his wife and three children — sons Mohamed and Ateeq and daughter Fatima.

What financial traits influenced your childhood? What did you learn from it?

From a young age, I was exposed to simple things that taught me about financial health.

I recall that my father would take me to his office to observe how he worked. I learnt my initial investment strategies by observing how my father would trade stocks over the phone.

This early observation helped me in being wiser with money and start my entrepreneurial journey with ease.

Was there pocket money during your childhood?

As a teenager, I had to know how to save, plan and budget. My parents introduced the concept of weekly pocket money early on. I would receive Dh200 a week.

It was exhilarating — I had the freedom to decide to spend that at an arcade or cinema. However, I also ensured to use it as an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of budgeting.

I ensured to always budget in advance for my spending and save for future investments.

I am grateful that these values were instilled in me at an early age as I apply these simple rules to the businesses I started.

How did you start out?

I started my career working with the oil and gas company Adnoc and moved on to Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority before settling down at the Abu Dhabi Executive Office for about a decade.

Business runs in my genes. My father ran successful enterprises such as oilfield services and mixed-used land development businesses, while working full-time for the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

I was inspired by him while working for the Abu Dhabi government’s entities and, therefore, set out on my entrepreneurial journey.

How do you grow your wealth?

I believe in steady growth — most of my revenue goes back into the business.

My portfolio is diversified and I make long-term investments. The current breakdown of my investment portfolio is 60 per cent into my businesses, 20 per cent into property and the rest into stocks, cryptocurrency or markets.

What is your spending and saving mix?

I have learnt to never invest more than I can afford to lose. When it comes to money, finance and investing, it is key to take calculated risks.

When you invest more than you can afford to lose, you risk incurring major losses.

Thirty per cent of my finances are attributed to spending and the remainder 70 per cent towards investments.

Have you been wise with money?

In my early years, I bought an expensive car but soon realised the importance of being wise with money. The expenses of maintaining the car were monumental.

I realised excessively luxury goods are not penny-wise. However, since then, I have learnt to be wise with money.

I always reinvest the profits that I earn back into the business to grow it further and consistently find newer ways in giving back to consumers.

When you invest back into the business, you can take calculated risks. Reinvesting assures financial stability for the business.

I have learnt to never invest more than I can afford to lose. When it comes to money, finance and investing, it is key to take calculated risks
Ahmed Al Fahim

What has been your best investment?

Professionally, Spot is my best investment. It is on an exponential journey.

As a community entrepreneur, I have always wanted to explore disruptive approaches to solve economic and social problems while empowering small and medium enterprises through cost-effective and traffic-driving business solutions.

Spot enables me to do this and we are committed to creating an integrated ecosystem that offers a combination of food, community and entertainment, bringing the best food and beverage experiences.

Our brand fosters a thriving and supportive environment to enable the local food truck industry and drive its sustainable growth.

Any cherished purchases?

Money spent on being with family has always been something I value.

A few years ago, I bought a farm, which serves as a getaway for the family and myself. It is where we go to relieve stress, get away from the bustle of the city and regain perspective.

What is your money philosophy?

A crucial money rule for me is to reinvest. I do not believe in spending a hefty amount on excessive luxuries. I would much rather invest in stocks, property and digital currencies.

My second money rule, and one of the key learnings that I live by, is to start when you are young.

Ahmed Al Fahim does not believe in spending on excessive luxuries. Instead, he prefers to invest in stocks, property and digital currencies. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Once you grow older, commitments to yourself or your family increase, but when you are young, you are allowed to experiment.

You realise your true potential and a possible career path that fulfils your passion and is profitable.

Any financial advice for your younger self?

I would say investing in yourself is the most profitable investment you will ever make.

When it comes to improving life skills and career prospects, young people have one clear advantage on their side — time.

I would refocus my resources on starting my professional development early, by first discovering where my passion lies and invest in ways that would help me get closer to it.

Above all, you need the drive and ability to continually self-develop as this will largely define your quality of life now and in future.

Any key financial milestones?

Embarking on my first business venture (Mass events) and leading the event (The Rage) to its successful completion gave me a sense of instant gratification.

Choosing to transition into the entrepreneurial world was the most daring and calculated decision I ever made; however, it came with a lot of wisdom and high returns on investment.

I was not careless with the decision to embark on this journey and knew that I had what it took to make my businesses profitable, sustainable and impactful.

What luxuries are important to you?

Money is never wasted when spent enjoying time with people that matter the most.

For me, that would be investing in quality time with family and friends, travelling or playing sports.

I don’t attach value to material objects, so my ultimate luxury is owning my time and building meaningful memories.

What are your financial goals?

My goal is to have more social impact through the work I do and find innovative solutions to economic and social problems.

The idea is to build an ecosystem of symbiotic companies that provide value to the community, and ultimately build a legacy for myself and the generations to come.

Updated: December 26, 2022, 4:37 AM