As the head of a business conglomerate, Haleema Humaid Al Owais wears many hats, but overcoming odds and keeping promises are some she is most proud of
A visionary. A risk-taker. A responsible leader. Haleema Humaid Al Owais, the 34-year-old founder and director of Sultan bin Ali Al Owais Real Estate company, rightfully deserves all these epithets and much more. Currently at the helm of three large companies that cover the entire scale of needs of her core business in construction, real estate development and real estate management, this Emirati businesswoman has proven time and again that how you deal with challenges is what eventually defines who you are.
It was a family tragedy in early 2007, when her father passed away, that led her to step into unfamiliar territory, one in which she had no prior experience. ‘There was no one to take over my father’s business,’ recollects Haleema. ‘My elder brother was pursuing his higher studies so I stepped in to manage the real estate section – which was then just in its infancy stage – as the idea of property development appealed to me. Our first building, which today serves as our headquarters, was only 90 per cent done then. The responsibility of organising the resources to complete the project, leading the construction process and handling all the formalities related to leasing fell squarely on my shoulders.’
When she entered the then predominantly male-dominated industry of real estate and construction, Haleema was just 22 years old. Undaunted by the herculean task ahead of her, she turned to her only known resources – a colleague’s husband in the construction industry (“He is now our General Manager”) and a senior colleague who had trained her in her previous job and has since left the UAE. This core team of three thus laid the framework for what was to become the Sultan bin Ali Al Owais Real Estate company.
‘We named it as a tribute to my uncle, who had mentored and raised my father and was a major influence in his life,’ says Haleema.
The initial months were the toughest requiring long hours of hard work. Later, in the same year, she oversaw the construction and handover of another multi-purpose building. Moderna, a maintenance and logistics company, was then established and launched to handle the maintenance requirements of the growing portfolio of properties. In 2008, during the global economic downturn, Haleema’s team acquired their third building from a construction company that was closing down.