Hot seat: Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim

Boss of Hydra Properties and number 16 in ArabianBusiness.com’s list of the world’s most influential Arabs, Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim is the star of <em>The Hydra Executives</em>, a new reality TV show based on Donald Trump’s <em>The Apprentice</em>. With the show soon to air in the UAE, he found time to fill <em>Time Out</em> in on the details.

Hot seat, The Knowledge

Tell us about the show.
The Hydra Executives is one of the most exciting reality TV shows to hit the airwaves. It highlights different business cultures (American/British) and it’s a very good way to promote Abu Dhabi to the rest of the world. The format is simple: two teams from the USA and UK compete over 16 property-based challenges. Each week I fire a member of one team until there is just one entrant left, who wins a US$1m investment from me for their business idea.

How has it gone?
You need to watch the show! Like everything it’s had its fair share of challenges. With personality conflicts between teammates all competing for the money, it makes for great TV. The end result is very impressive.

How does it compare with The Apprentice?
You can’t really compare The Apprentice to The Hydra Executives, the styles are very different, the concept is different and the US$1million to start your own business is a real reward for promoting the country to entrepreneurs, rather than a job offer.

Have you been impressed by the entrants?
The casting is very good; we have a good selection of entrepreneurs from all walks of life competing. But, like everything in life, all is not what it seems – as everyone will soon find out…

You seem to have the same entrepreneurial skills as Donald Trump. Is he someone you admire?
I have a great deal of respect for Donald Trump; I have respect for people who never take no for an answer.

Will we be seeing more of him here in Dubai?
If our negotiations go well, we will see more of Donald in Abu Dhabi with Hydra.

What has been the reaction from the Arab world?
The Show has not aired yet, but the Arab media has been extremely positive towards the concept.

Are there any Arab contestants taking part?
The concept of the show is country versus country, so this first season is the Americans versus the British, doing business with the Arabs. There will be many more shows and spin-offs. Right now we are also casting for India versus Pakistan, and by the third series I will bring in Arab contestants to take on the winners of the fi rst two shows.

You’re a businessman, and a successful one at that. Why do you think the UAE has been so successful in business?
The UAE has been successful because of the vision and proper planning started by the late Sheikh Zayed [His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late President of the UAE]. To take a desert and turn it into paradise requires hard work and determination. That’s what successful people do and that’s what this country has done.

Can it become as big as major business centres like Shanghai or New York?
The UAE is unique in all aspects; we don’t compare ourselves to other cities. Other cities are already comparing themselves to us and saying, ‘What will they do next?’

Tell us about the new book you are launching soon.
It’s my first book and I’m very excited about it. I called it Brand Builder – it’s about how to start a small real estate company and take it global within 18 months to become one of the largest companies in the world. The secret is always all in the brand. The book also shows how to bring your vision to life.

How long can the housing boom here last, do you think?
The boom is about supply and demand. And the demand has only just begun.

See www.hydraexecutives.com for show updates.

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