Tell us about yourself and your career.
I'm Firas Al Msaddi, and I currently live in Dubai with my family. I was born in 1984, and I’m happily married. My wife and I are parents to two young sons and twin girls. I am originally from Syria, and I moved to Dubai in 2005 because I got a job as a sales executive. With the help and support of my family, I was able to overcome the challenges and hardships I encountered.
I'm the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman of Fäm Properties. It is one of the largest and most successful real estate firms in the UAE. I'm an entrepreneur and an extreme sports fan. Aside from the firm I mentioned, I have other businesses within the Fäm Group as well.
Tell us about Fäm Properties. How did it come about, and where is it now?
After my move from Syria, I studied and developed my English language proficiency by working double shifts. Within 18 months, I saw myself in the real estate industry. In 2007, I got a job in a small boutique real estate agency in Dubai Marina and was then headhunted by another agency for a sales manager position by the end of that same year. After two years, I was running the office and decided to study Business Administration in Dubai.
Fäm Properties was founded when I was 25 years old. It was in 2009 and it was in the middle of the global economic crisis. Even though we experienced hardships back then, I had a strong belief that Dubai can definitely endure the crisis.
Since 2012, on a yearly basis, our firm has been recognised as the best top sales performing brokerage for all major mega master developers. We are also recognised by the Dubai Land Department (DLD) as the highest transacting agency in Dubai for two consecutive years, which was in 2017 - 2018 and 2018 - 2019. We employ more than 200 hardworking staff; we do have a Business Bay headquarters and operate an additional four other retail outlets.
What other business ventures have you engaged in since Fäm Properties?
Under the Fäm Group, these are the other ventures that I manage: Fäm Properties Dubai, Fäm Properties Abu Dhabi, Fäm Snagging and Inspection, Fäm Interiors, Fäm Outdoor Media, Fäm Living (a holiday home business), Fäm Development Advisory and Fäm Asset Management.
How do you measure success?
There is no right and wrong about defining success, but for me, it is an on-going process: a life-time process of setting goals that gives you the sense of contentment and happiness once these goals are achieved or exceeded. Do it by way of being a monk, a top real estate agent, a humanitarian activist, or even being a father of a happy family. So, your success is not defined by the size of your goal nor by how ambitious it is. What defines your success is your consistency in reaching or exceeding your own goals that lead to your self-contentment and joy in life.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about raising and living with my loving and supportive family, managing the business that I worked hard for, and enjoying the sports that I find exciting.
Who and what motivates you?
I believe that being motivated is a responsibility that every individual has to live up to. I always say: if you don’t figure it out by yourself, no one will figure it out for you. Every one of us can be motivated by different things, and we have to figure out these things and then take actions to own them. Nevertheless, there is one thing to do with motivation that applies to all of us: it is our surroundings and the people we decide to spend most of our time with.
“Money makes the world go round.” To what extent do you agree with this quote?
Money is very important, but only because it is a necessity and not an end-goal or purpose. When our aim is to deploy whoever we got to succeed in our business, money will be just one of the natural results of winning in business. You will, maybe, never see a successful businessman who is running a successful business but is bankrupt.
What are the biggest life lessons you’ve learned from being an entrepreneur?
Hard work is a must, and smart work is just common sense because no one decides to work mindless today and smart tomorrow. It is not a decision that people make before they start their day. But hard work, perseverance and consistency requires a firm rational decision.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to quit their 9-5 to work on their passion?
The vast majority of successful entrepreneurs are outstanding employees or individuals with specific skill sets or capacities. All you need to win in business is experience, and to gain experience, you need to learn and to practise your learning. That is the formula in a short brief.
What are you willing to compromise in order to make it come true? Will you listen to those who don’t believe in you? Believe it or not, the people around you will definitely affect you eventually. Choose to be around positive people, so that you will have the same outlook with them.
What do you know now that you wish you knew earlier?
Everything. I will never say no to any head start when it comes to my knowledge.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Dream big always. Be rational. Be objective. Assess the risks well, then qualify the maximum upside potentials. Work harder than everybody else in your industry.
What are your major goals for the next five years?
Family is number one, spending quality time with my parents, my wife and my four kids.
How do you balance career and family?
Working hard is a decision to start, it’s a decision to slow down, and it’s a decision to stop. We just need to always be self-aware that the results we get when we do a focused eight hours and six days a week will not be the same if we do six hours and five days a week. As long as we are rational about that, we will be able to live a happy life prioritising what comes first. In the beginning, I had to compromise massively on my family time, and my main motive was to build something for me and my family that will provide me with the freedom of choice when it comes to how much time I spend with my family. The time has come and I am 100 times more family-focused than I was at the start of my entrepreneurial journey.
What’s that one quote you live by?
“If the opportunity is known to everyone, it is no longer called an opportunity.”