Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, a public-private joint stock firm called “aswaaq” will be formed in the UAE to build and run the largest chain of community centres and supermarkets in the country.
A founding committee for aswaaq has been formed with Ahmed Bin Bayat, Secretary General of the Dubai Executive Council, as its Chairman and Abdul Basit Al Janahi and Sami Al Ghamzi as board members.
The Dubai Government will hold a 45 per cent stake in the company and the remaining will be listed as an IPO. As per the agreement, the government will allocate land to aswaaq in return for its stake.
“Aswaaq is in line with the vision of Sheikh Mohammed, who mentioned the project during a presentation when he said we have solutions that depend heavily on UAE national human resources, such as the project of aswaaq, which provides investment opportunities for youth and relies on state-of-the-art technology to minimise the need for labour,” said Bin Bayat.
Aswaaq will focus on using the best international practices to control its operating costs, making it possible to provide the products and services to customers at reasonable and fair prices. It will also contribute in supporting the establishment of small scale and medium projects in the UAE by encouraging nationals to work as suppliers and investors in the project. A share of the profits will be given to charity firms.
Al Janahi, vice-chairman of the founding committee of aswaaq, said in the next five years, aswaaq will open 25 outlets in Dubai alone, before moving to other emirates. Locations have already been identified.
He added there will be openings for UAE nationals to work as suppliers, but people of other nationalities can also actively participate in the project.
On the objective of aswaaq, Al Janahi said it is to offer consumer’s products and services at reasonable prices. The new entity will follow a fair and transparent pricing strategy, that will seek to ease the burden of inflation on consumers.
The committee will soon hold its first meeting to adopt the statutes of aswaaq, and chalk out its strategy and objectives to ensure its smooth take-off in the UAE market.
UAE Nationals to Benefit
Elaborating on how the project will benefit UAE nationals, Abdul Basit Al Janahi, Vice-Chairman of the Founding Committee of aswaaq told Emirates Business it will be an ideal platform for nationals to venture into the retail sector.
“UAE nationals who are planning for start-ups can explore business opportunities in the retails sector, which is very competitive. It is difficult to penetrate the market unless you are a brand. But they can do that by availing of retail space within aswaaq outlets,” said
“The current market does not give them [UAE nationals] such opportunities. We will be running training programmes to educate them on consumer trends and market strategies, and support them with the right business contacts, too,” he said
“Our obligation as a Dubai Government initiative is to make sure UAE nationals will have opportunities to benefit from the project. But that does not mean we will compromise on quality. They will have to meet the highest quality standards,” Al Janahi said.
“Aswaaq is a refreshing new concept in convenience shopping with a range of small, medium, and large community centres at its heart, housing a friendly and vibrant supermarket complemented by quality retail shops and services.” (Anjana Sankar)
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