Faris Saeed believes his Sustainable City model can be repeated throughout the UAE and further afield
What’s the story behind your business?
I’ve lived in Dubai for over 20 years and always dreamed of raising my family in a community that embodies sustainability and green living. Rather than seek it around the world, I chose to create it in the city I call home. I visited sustainable models in Japan, Denmark and California to learn from the best of each. The Sustainable City is a result of that and a lesson in staying true to what you believe in.
How do you see sustainable development going in the next few years?
In the next five years, we hope to see sustainable cities all over the UAE, the region, and the world. Moving into the next decade, we will continue to build and share our knowledge and transfer it to other areas so that people may benefit from it not only in Dubai but around the world in terms of environmental consciousness. There is no limit to what we are capable of achieving and technology is consistently advancing on a daily basis that will allow us to do our job better.
Where do great ideas come from in your organisation?
Our organisation is a beehive of innovation and creativity, it has attracted people from all over the world who are passionate about development, engineering, innovation, and sustainability. Great ideas arise from every corner in our office and we nurture them by partnering with exceptional individuals, universities and sustainable suppliers. We welcome any idea from any person that would improve upon engineering, property development, and sustainable living.
Do you believe social networking has impacted your organisation or yourself?
Social sustainability is one of our three main pillars. So naturally social networking has affected most things we do, especially within The Sustainable City, as a community, it has allowed us to share knowledge as well as engage and create conversations online with like-minded people and helped us also connect with organisations, engineering professionals, and sustainability enthusiasts who share the same passion.
What’s your decision-making process?
We don’t spend a long time making decisions. If it is aligned with our vision and core values, then the decision is made.
Who has had an impact on you as a leader?
What is the most important decision you’ve had to make for your company?
Expanding globally. Leveraging on what we built in Dubai and exporting even more advanced versions of the original masterplan.
What would you say to a new employee about the culture of your organisation?
We simply educate all new employees about our vision, mission and core values to make sure they are aligned with our way of thinking.
When faced with two equally qualified job candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
We hire both! Because we believe it will be an investment in the future.
What are three characteristics that you believe every leader should possess?
Vision, discipline and hard work.
What advice would you give to someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Being a leader is not a role; it’s a trait that people associate you with. Leaders are born leaders and they have this trait by instinct.
What’s the best way to prepare for uncertainty?
To have plan A, B, C, D and E.
What’s one productivity tip you wish everyone else knew?
Learn from your mistakes and never quit.
What is your most prized possession?
The family I made, the knowledge and experience I gained from experimenting and opening up to new ideas, and meeting new people every day.
What is the biggest luxury in your life?
Two words - living sustainably.
Quote to live your life by?
“Life is not about the amount of days that you live on this earth, but it’s about what you fit into those days that allows you to live a remarkable life.” — Michael Crosslande.
If something happened to your business, what would be your back-up plan?
We don’t make a habit of focusing on a problem. Our main prerogative in everything we do is to find a solution to any problem we may face. And our most important asset is knowledge, so if we ever have to, we can always start again.
What’s your greatest fear in business? If you are in a business that you are passionate about, and that drives you every single day to become better at what you do, then there should not be fear. There may be anxiety, adrenaline rushes, happiness, and a multitude of other emotions. And a lot of pleasure after overcoming any challenges!
How do you manage a large company and still find time for things like family?
Waking up early, time management, prioritizing, and delegation.
There are 24 hours in a day, so with six hours of sleep and proper time management, you can achieve anything.
How do you switch off from the office?
I never switch off, I enjoy what I do so it doesn’t feel like work.
Do you have any daily rituals that help prepare you for the day?
Horseback riding in the morning, and exercising in the gym.
Finish this sentence, “the world would be a better place if only….”
If only people respected and loved each other unconditionally.