There can be few professional pressures as daunting as being the child of very successful parents, trying to make it on your own in business. Add to this the pressure of being a son; therefore a carrier of the family name for your whole life and the pressure only increases.
How much greater must this pressure be then, if that particular family name is renowned – not just for a single generation before you, but ever since the 17th century. Not only renowned, but also celebrated to such an extent that the whole country knows it and residents of your home city regularly attend communal buildings built in that very same name. Under such monumental pressure, anyone may be forgiven for feeling crushed by the weight of expectation upon them.
They also say it also takes such pressure to make a diamond and that’s what the Al Duaij name has created in Alea Global Group, the family business headed up by CEO Mohammad Al Duaij. In Kuwait, the Al Duaij name is almost part of the landscape itself, it is so steeped in local history. The family’s noble ancestors gifted Kuwait City its earliest charitable foundation, as well as its first water foundation. The Al Duaij family have been in business from the beginning and the Al Duaij souq, formed in the 17th century, was the start.
You might say that the Al Duaij family have continued to provide exactly this sort of assistance right through to the modern day, only now their network of beneficiaries is a global one and the rewards for them are of a different – but equally appreciated – variety.
Alea Global is a dual purpose business operating from a single office with its connections reaching all over the world. Established in 1998, it is still very much a family business, with the still young – but incredibly experienced – Mohammad Al Duaij at its helm.
On the one hand, Alea is an investor in its own right, seeking of course to increase its own profits through private equity investment and also to enable real estate developments to come to fruition. By investing wisely and successfully, the company increases its capacity to carry out the second of its core activities – helping clients all over the world to do better business and to realise their goals.
Your partner in the Middle East
Alea is a boon to any business wanting to enter new markets in the Middle East, but also anywhere else in the world. Right now, the company is branching out and making new connections in countries all around the world, including Central and Latin America and Asia – two major international markets where they can add active contacts to their growing network of solid and reliable resources around the world.
Through these resources, they can help businesses to develop financially and to trade globally, with great success and whilst avoiding some of the delays and obstacles that would otherwise befall them if they were to try branching out alone without such knowledgeable and well-connected guides.
Through financial and investment advisory services, business development services and physical commodity trading advice, in areas such as agricultural commodities, coal and iron ore, the company can take a client’s ambitions and grow them further afield and more profitably than they could otherwise manage alone.
The key difference between Alea and their competitors is the way they approach the clients they meet. This family firm still values the ethos of the family above cold, hard business transactions in isolation. This attitude is the natural and cultivated result of having such a prominent, well-loved and respected family name in Kuwait and in the Middle East in general, with a legacy that can only be maintained through showing the proper deference to everything the Al Duaij ancestors held dear.
No client is simply a client and no deal is simply a deal. Instead, new clients are met with the warmth and expectation that they will become part of this business family and treated as such.
Mohammad Al Duaij explains: “We take time to get to know our new clients, because they are not simply numbers to us. Instead, they are people with ambitions, which are deeply personal to them. They are people who have come to us with these ambitions because they trust our reputation. We are grateful to them for choosing us above our competitors and we do everything we can to ensure that we show that gratitude in everything we do for them. We treat them as if they were family and we consider our working relationship to be a valuable and long-lasting one based on a mutual respect, not merely a business deal.”
It’s this level of personal and professional service that has led Alea to win the prestigious ‘Advisory Firm of the Year’ award in Kuwait – no small achievement in a region where international business development is frantic and much sought after and competition to consult and advise on such development is fierce.
Alea’s clientele are as spread around the globe as one might expect, considering their all-encompassing name. Each of the connections this company makes is deep and authentic; so all clients can expect to benefit from the dedicated network Alea has built up around the world in their many years of trading in the unique and meaningful way they are famous for.
To have a great and well-connected guide in the Middle East is, potentially, worth its weight in gold. But to have such a guide with valuable outposts all over the globe offers unlimited potential for a business with its sights set on international growth and all the rewards that a smooth and massive expansion can bring.
Al Duaij explains the meaning of this global reach for his client: “The kind of respect and the high profile we enjoy in the Middle East as a result of the ancient family name, we are rapidly replicating all over the world with our growing portfolio of international clients and successful deals. It may have taken many hundreds of years for my family’s reputation to be solidified in Kuwait, but in the world of business these days, things move extremely quickly. Reputations can be made and lost with incredible speed, so we’re very proud to be able to say that we have only continued to grow and boost our standing with every new relationship and every new region we enter.
“We are now at the stage where we are approached regularly by new clients who have heard about our awards, know us through our speaking in the global business forum, or who have been referred to us by people we have worked with or are working with at the moment. This means a great deal to us, because it tells us that people value the kind of boutique company we are and the way we work and that they have chosen our personal service as their preferred way to do business.
“Business is never completely impersonal and when we treat each new business case with the personal care and attention it deserves. We find that the rewards come back to us in the form of more business from existing clients, and more clients who have heard about the way we work and want to try it for themselves. Our key asset and resource, above all others, is our reputation.”
That reputation seems to be in safe hands for the future, as younger members of the Al Duaij family prepare to join Alea and the company continues to expand on its already large and solid portfolio.
Leading from the front
Considering that the personal touch is such a large part of what Alea does for its clients, what is there that we can learn about Mohammad Al Duaij? One thing that cannot be disputed is that he has worked his way to the head of this company and by no means has the mantle been handed to him by virtue of his family name. Mohammad studied first at the prestigious University of Leeds Business School in the UK, before working with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and going on to work for Global Investment House, the then leading investment bank in the Middle East.
Al Duaij joined Alea Global Group in 2007, at a time when investment was the company’s only activity and led the firm into new territories, advising on and developing business for other people. He now travels the world, accepting speaking appointments as an expert in his field and continually adding new relationships to his personal and professional portfolio on behalf of Alea.
In 2016, he won an award for his leadership skills, but leads without ego or the ‘pushiness’ that might be expected from such a successful businessman. This, perhaps, is part of what has made him so successful. An engaging personality, he clearly loves what he does and considers the family name a gift to be treasured and lived up to rather than a birthright or shortcut to power.
His work is his life, but for the holidays he sometimes manages to take between business trips around the world. When he does find the time to get away, he enjoys the great outdoors – the simple pleasures of surfing or climbing, rather than relaxing in the lap of luxury. With such a grounded and hard working leader as this at the head of Alea, is it any wonder that clients and partners around the world are so keen to join this international family?