Tuesday 01, May 2018 by Jessica Combes

Legacy worth more than money


Mohammad Al Duaij, head of Alea Global Group, isn't taking risks on Bitcoin or other potentially fleeting investment ideas

Al Duaij runs Alea Global Group, a single-family office that invests the wealth his family accumulated through a string of businesses stretching back to the 17th century.

The Al Duaij family started Alea in 1998, managing a portfolio that was focused mostly on real estate in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and private equity in the Gulf region and Europe. Al Duaij, 37, took over in 2008 and expanded the company’s reach into Latin America and Asia. Its investments include everything from agricultural land in Brazil to a commodity trading arm in Asia.

A lot of what Alea does is under the radar, with Al Duaij telling Bloomberg, “We’re very low profile.” He drives a 13-year old Range Rover, insisting his position “is not about showing off.”

Al Duaij, who worked at an economic development fund in Kuwait and later an investment bank before joining Alea, says one of the biggest differences in making business decisions now is the emotions attached to them. “With a family business, the emotional part comes into every decision that you are taking because the family is behind it,” Bloomberg reported.

He added that the pressure of being from a successful family also makes him more cautious, so he avoids potentially fleeting investment trends such as Bitcoin, saying that his family gave him the privilege of the legacy of having a brand name, which he doesn’t want to risk ruining.

He told Bloomberg that many of the wealthiest families in the GCC have built up their fortunes through real estate and trading, not oil, as many assume; oil reserves are generally owned by governments.

He addressed another western misconception that affluent Gulf Arabs have money, but no knowledge, stating this simply isn’t the case. Rather, these families are sophisticated investors who need time to be convinced – a quick power meeting will not do.

“You have to plan a one-hour meeting—first to chitchat, to talk about football, politics, the economy, and then have coffee. Then you start talking about your story,” said Al Duaij, adding that throwing out numbers if off putting, but a narrative on how the proposed deal can be created would encourage attention.

The original story appears in the Q2 2018 Family Offices Special Report by Bloomberg Markets.


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