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Isa Ghurair (1)

Indonesia among our top priorities for investment

The philosophy of our family is to invest in many muslim countries. So, we don't have much investment in Europe or America," said Isa al-Ghurair.

05 Agustus 2016 12:08

He is a member of Al-Ghurair family, a leading conglomerate family from Dubai, United of Arab Emirates. According to Forbes magazine in 2016, Al-Ghurairfamily's net worth is around US$ 4.8 billion.

Isa al-Ghurair is the Vice Chairman of Al-Ghurair Investment LLC. Along with Al-Ghurair Group of Companies, these two holdings also known as Al-Ghurair, was founded in 1960.

Al Ghurair Investment is a diversified industrial group with a presence in more than 20 countries on four continents, which focus on foods, construction, resources and properties with additional sector participation in retail, printing, energy and education.

Isa al-Ghurair also attended the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) was held in Jakarta on 2-4 August, 2016. Apart of his participation in gthe meeting, he has also held several private meetings.

Indonesia is not a new country for him. "I came here first in 1974 and then in 1979," he said. He had an investment in coal mining in Indonesia before.

He is so humble, warmly, and friendly. He gave an exclusive interview for Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co yesterday, after having lunch in the last day of WIEF meeting. He talked about his plan to invest in Indonesia, particularly in food and pharmaceutical sectors, in 2-5 years from now.

Excerpts:   

Is there any plan from you to invest in Indonesia?

You see, we are looking for investment. We had one time coal mining but because we have change the model, we sold to somebody who has a contract. So, we came out.

But I know there are a lot of opportunities, especially now the government is very much more eager to open up Indonesia for investors. I think may two to four years from now we will find some mutual benefit, either by exporting goods out of Indonesia to our parts of the world because food is always scarce in our parts of the world and food is available here.

No doubt, Indonesia will have to fulfill the all requirements first and then the extra thing is can be exported. Palm oil is important, rice maybe after sometimes will be able to export, foods and vegetables are these things can be exported out of Indonesia.

And also, is a new idea like foods and a new concept that is here in Indonesia that can catch the eyes and the tastes of the Arab world.

So, in what sectors you would like to invest in Indonesia?

Many in foods and we may think pharmaceutical also.

Could you mention how much you would like to invest in Indonesia in the first stage?

It is very difficult because it is depend on the projects. You have to specify project by project. Mining will take a lot of money, small factory will take a little money. It is very difficult for me to precisely say how much investment can be.

Could you mention in what sector you will invest in Indonesia in the first stage?

The beginning for us it will be first is to understand the market by important things to our parts of the world. Then after that, it is like you create a roadmap by doing one thing lead to the next one, to the next one. You don't go to the conclusion from the day one. So, our idea is to create a roadmap of investment to Indonesia.   
How many years it will take time until you really invest in Indonesia?

As I mentioned, two to five years from now, there could be some investments.

How do you see the position of Indonesia in the global halal industry?

Indonesia is the largest muslim country in the world. As an Indonesian, you must capitalize on this because you have this mass number of people. Indonesia has to market themselves in the international market, in the muslim world, where they can do halal products. How to do halal, it is the commitment or something has tobe done by the Indonesian part more.

Nobody is going to come to knock on your door, you have to go to knock doors of other people, because our parts of the world they are coming.

I will give you an example. Next year we will have the Gulf Food Exhibition. It is very huge and people come to exhibit their food. Indonesia has a small pavilion, but not so big. Why can't Indonesia has a big pavilion in showcasing products of Indonesia. First of all, it is halal. Foods and vegetables is always halal here.

Even we have an emotional bound as muslim country, until today Indonesia has a small number of Arab investors. What kind of factors can convince more Arab investors like you to invest in Indonesia?

The first thing you have to do is encourage tourism. Bring the people come to see the country, they like the country. They then will make certain investment, maybe buying a house, buying a property, buying things. They are not going to take the property back home. They are going to see the country. They are going to bring money from outside.

The first of all, how to open up tourism for the Arab people to come in. I am lucky that I don't need to get a visa to come to Indonesia. On arrival, they stamp visa for me which is good.

These are encouragements, like Emirates Airline has flying three times a day. It is bringing people to Indonesia, but only to Jakarta. Jakarta is not Indonesia. Indonesia is big. So, how to make people not come only to Jakarta, to come to other parts of Indonesia. It is how easy to travel.

You need to do a fews things to make like more easier. Once the person comes here, he will like it, he will say, "Ok, I will have the opportunity to invest here." In many countries that people went, they liked the place and they started to invest.   

But first is they have to come to the country. If they don't come to the country and they have a bad impression about the country, then you have a problem.

What do you think about the rule of laws in Indonesia because some investors said they have faced obstacles because some laws frequently change and overlap?

To tell you frankly, I have not encountered obstacles myself, so I can't tell you. But the more you are stable, the more you are clear, the more investment will come.
 
If there is one investor or few investors, they have bad experience, then you have bad publicity everywhere. So, by doing everything is open on the table, then as a country has a chance to more and more money from outside.

Is there any impact against your business caused by oil price slump down in the last two years?

No, as a business we don't have any impact because we are not relying. The economy in Dubai at the moment relies only five percents on oil income, remaining is on other things, diversified. So, the more you are diversified, one or other goes up and down, it's not a problem for you.       

After Europe hit by crisis, is there any plan for your company to shift the focus to Southeast Asia, include Indonesia?

The philosophy of our family is to invest in many muslim countries. So, we don't have much investment in Europe or America, we don't have much. We don't have this problem.

It means we can conclude that Indonesia among your top priorities for investment?

Yes, insha Allah. 

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