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From homeless to Dubai businessman

From homeless to Dubai businessman

On a cool and breezy day of January 1, 1977, I arrived in Dubai to take up my first job as electric supervisor for a construction company against my family's will.

I came along with a group of workers who were promised a job, a reasonable salary and accommodation for a comfortable life.

To our surprise no one received us on our arrival. The company that brought us here had just disappeared. We had no job, no place to spend our first night and we had to find accommodation first and then search work.

It was New Year eve, and the whole country was preparing for the celebrations; we had no option but to spend that night out in open.

I was a 25-year-old brimming with confidence and ambition. I took on the first challenge and prepared a make shift bed and that on a pile of construction material.

The night was breezy and bit cold, though, but it could not shattered my resolve. I wanted to explore new shores, that's why I came here.

My family had a textile business, but, I decided to do something else and some friends advised me to think about Dubai.

My brother refused to give me a single penny and I had to borrow Rs5,000 from a friend to pay the recruitment company for its fees and buy an air ticket.

Some of us in our group got jobs at a villa construction project in Dubai. But it was not something I was looking, though I worked there for few weeks.

However, destiny brought me to Abu Dhabi, then a little bigger than a small town. There was nothing like what we have now -skyline of large structures, wide roads, shops selling luxurious merchandise.

Through a reference I got a job at an electric power construction project, which had just been completed on Mina Street. I was hired to work in the fit-out phase.

My first monthly salary was Dh1,500. The first thing I did was repaying the money I owed. Once the project was done, I along with my other restless friends decided to move to Europe.

All agreed on the destination, Germany. We booked air tickets for Spain, where our common friends had arranged our entry into Germany with the help of human-smugglers. We had to pay them $1,000 each for helping us cross the border from a secret route in France' mountains to reach Germany.

Though my friends agreed to the plan, I resisted fearing the border guards who open fire on illegal immigrants.

For a month or so, I worked in Barcelona as a salesman at a gift shop. In 1980, I returned to Abu Dhabi with the support of my friends there. I met a project manager of an under-construction hotel project on Electra Street, who asked me to erect the water piping in the building for Dh10,000, instead of a job.

Without calculating the costs, and how I would do it, I accepted the offer. That's how I entered into business. Otherwise, I would have been another supervisor on a construction project. I started an air-conditioning and fabrication business, in 1980. Since then, with the Grace of All Mighty Allah, I did not look back. In 1992, I realized that my decision to returning here was correct.

Then I arrived in Dubai, when there was a construction boom. I remember, work on the World Trade Center had just been completed and fit-out was about to begin. 

Life was too slow, there was no luxuries of life as people enjoy today. Who would have imagined how Dubai and Abu Dhabi would change so fast!

It's all about leadership:

The UAE's founding father Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan built this country as a welfare state built around compassion and care as its principles. We benefited from this compassion, as the business environment was encouraging, open, consistent and free from any interference.

Today, when people talk about low oil prices, and its effects on the economy, I tell them its temporary; and it happened before also.

This economy will flourish as Expo 2020 would create more opportunities for new investments and constructions. "There is already a surge in invitations for per-qualifications for tenders of new projects in electric transmission, sub-stations and electrical related business," the self-made businessman said.

Chauhan has built some major electric transmissions, sub-stations, underground cabling and street lighting projects in the country.

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