Entrepreneurs are primarily investors — in the sense that they invest their own resources, including time, effort and vision, to start and expand their businesses. This is especially the case for Abdulla Lahej and Hamid Kerayechian, the founding partners of Ayana Holding.
Since establishing Ayana Holding in 2014, they have been growing their interconnected ecosystem of companies. They offer a range of high-quality services and expertise in various domains. These include real estate investment and development, architectural design and master planning, interior design, leisure and entertainment concepts and more.
In this interview, they discuss the reason behind their diversification efforts. Respectively sitting as Ayana Holding’s chairman and chief executive officer, they also share their objectives for 2024 and for the long term.
Economy Middle East: You have been investing in disruptive and high-growth businesses since you founded Ayana Holding. What is the rationale behind these investments? Can you describe your approach and strategy?
Our commitment to investing is rooted in our overarching mission to build a network of dynamic companies on a global scale. Our rationale is guided by the belief that innovative and transformative ventures not only transcend borders but also redefine industries and contribute meaningfully to the world.
Ayana Holding has a comprehensive and strategic vision. We leverage our robust financial, operational and strategic experience to identify opportunities that align with our ethos of innovation and excellence. The selection of disruptive businesses is driven by a recognition of their potential to not only navigate diverse, transitioning and complex economies but to thrive and make a lasting impact.
In managing and growing our portfolio, we adopt a hands-on and collaborative strategy. We actively engage with our portfolio companies, utilizing our extensive network and wealth of knowledge and experience.
Abdulla Lahej, chairman and founding partner of Ayana Holding
Economy Middle East: Tell us about how Ayana has evolved over the past years. What significant milestones have you achieved? In which direction is the company headed over the long term?
Our trajectory has been marked by resilience, innovation and a commitment to excellence. One of our notable milestones has been the successful building of a global network of companies. Our diversified portfolio spans industries such as real estate, architecture, design and more. They showcase our ability to navigate varied transitioning and complex economies.
Navigating through these dynamic landscapes, we have not only sustained but thrived, placing Ayana Holding at the forefront of innovation. Our proven track record in successfully managing a diverse range of projects and ventures underscores our adaptability and strategic prowess.
Ayana Holding is steering toward a trajectory that harmonizes with our mission of cultivating high-growth enterprises with a significant global footprint. Our commitment involves furthering the expansion of our extensive network. Particularly, we prioritize the dynamic intersection of technology and the evolving landscape of architecture and real estate. With a strategic focus on the PropTech sector, to streamline processes for our clients and partners, ensuring a seamless and hassle-free experience.
We aim to further solidify our position as industry leaders, leveraging our robust financial, operational and strategic experience. Our commitment to transcending borders and benchmarks remains unwavering as we continue to evolve, adapt and drive positive change in the ever-changing business landscape.
Economy Middle East: Can you elaborate on how the company’s diversified portfolio has contributed to its resilience in the face of economic challenges, and how it positions the company for success in different market conditions?
Ayana Holding’s diversified portfolio serves as a strategic pillar that fortifies our resilience amid economic challenges and positions us for sustained success in varied market conditions.
Moreover, our diversified presence enhances our ability to identify emerging trends and capitalize on new opportunities. It fosters a culture of innovation and cross-industry collaboration within our organization. The insights gained from one sector often spark innovation and drive efficiencies in another, creating a dynamic and forward-thinking corporate environment.
Hamid Kerayechian, chief executive officer and founding partner of Ayana Holding
Economy Middle East: As highly regarded business leaders, can you share insights on how you manage crisis situations?
In every crisis, we recognize an opportunity. Surprisingly, our best year coincided with the challenges posed by COVID-19. We proactively identify gaps in the market and leverage our collective experiences to address them. Through resilience and commitment to our core values, we continue to establish a strong network and cultivate an outstanding portfolio.
With a focus on adapting our strategies to the evolving situation, we evaluate risks, identify opportunities for innovation and make agile decisions to ensure the sustainability and growth of our business.
Viewing change and uncertainty as avenues for growth is a valuable piece of advice. The ability to adapt to evolving circumstances is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurship. Build a robust network and surround yourself with a talented and diverse team. Collaborative efforts and collective problem-solving strengthen the foundation of any enterprise.
Economy Middle East: Your international expansion led to projects in the Commonwealth of Independent States market last year. Will you continue this global expansion, and which markets are in your line of sight for the next 12 months?
At Ayana Holding, our core strategy focuses on international expansion. It is evident in our significant projects in the CIS markets, the GCC — particularly in Saudi Arabia and emerging markets in Africa. Looking ahead, our commitment to global reach remains steadfast, leveraging our expertise and network to make a meaningful contribution to economic landscapes.
Economy Middle East: We are almost at the tail-end of 2023. What prospects do you see for Ayana in 2024? What are your thoughts on the regional and global economy next year?
The prospects for Ayana Holding in 2024 are both promising and strategic. Our vision is to build upon the successes of the past. We leverage our diverse portfolio and global network to propel us into new realms of growth and innovation.
In terms of the regional and global economy, we are cautiously optimistic. While challenges persist, we believe that our diversified portfolio positions us well to adapt to changing economic conditions. We remain vigilant in monitoring global trends and will adjust our strategies accordingly to ensure Ayana Holding continues to thrive amidst dynamic market landscapes.
About Abdulla Lahej
Abdulla Lahej is the chairman and one of the founding partners of Ayana Holding. He is a visionary leader who guides the strategic trajectory and continuous growth of the organization.
Lahej’s career spans over 20 years, starting in 1997. He has always been keen to expand his skillset in real estate, honing his expertise at Emaar Properties, which he joined in 2000. He also went on to become the group CEO of the organization. In 2016, he assumed the position of group CEO at Dubai Properties. Throughout his career, Lahej has been a key contributor to the development of Dubai’s iconic landmarks, including Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Business Bay and Arabian Ranches.
About Hamid Kerayechian
Hamid Kerayechian is Ayana Holding’s chief executive officer and one of its founding partners. With his strong entrepreneurial spirit, he oversees the strategic direction and operations of the company’s diverse portfolio.
He first ventured to Dubai in 2008 and has since spent over 17 years sharing his expertise in luxury development. His impactful work has garnered recognition, including being included in “Dubai’s Most Influential People” and “Most Inspiring Leaders in the Middle East.” Notably, he’s celebrated as one of the “Most Admired Leaders of Asia” and as the “Young CEO of the Year.”
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