Osama Heikal is the chief executive of United Beverage and Food Company (UBF) and managing partner of Trium and Mustard Seed – all F&B companies. The Egyptian entrepreneur, 40, who moved to Dubai two years ago and now lives in Arabian Ranches, is also a father to four daughters, aged between two and 15. His latest venture is the Asian fusion restaurant, Mori Sushi, which is due to open its first UAE branch next Wednesday.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
Growing up, my brothers and I were always encouraged to never be afraid of making decisions. My father, in particular, taught me to be bold in my business decisions and never to look back and regret the bad ones. Now I can confidently claim that I am fearless when it comes to financial decisions. I worked as an employee in my father’s companies from 1997 until 2002, when I founded my first company and became chief executive of UBF as well as being a majority shareholder.
How much did you get paid for your first job?
I got paid 4,000 Egyptian pounds (Dh1,654) per month for my first job. Back then it was the equivalent of US$1,000. I was 22 and the job was in my father’s construction company. I worked as the site admin coordinator and it was a fantastic learning experience for me.
Are you spender or saver?
I am a spender by all means, as I love to enjoy all aspects of life equally.
What is your most cherished purchase?
One of them is buying the Mori Sushi Franchise for the UAE. It wasn’t the most expensive, but it was one of my most daring and challenging decisions. Mori Sushi is a very famous and well-established brand in Sao Paulo and Egypt. I knew it as a loyal customer and when I decided to take the move of establishing a business in the UAE, I got in contact with the owners and successfully closed the deal.
Have you ever had a month where you feared you could you not pay the bills?
No, not really. I might be fearless in business but I am responsible, especially when it comes to personal and family matters.
Where do you save your money?
Mostly in expanding my business. In a way, establishing a new company was one of those investment decisions where I converted my savings into investment.
Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?
I’m a cash payer as I don’t like the burden of interest payments. Also I like to know how much I’m spending and you can easily get carried away using a credit card.
What has been your best investment?
Bringing the Cinnabon brand to Egypt back in 2003. I started with one branch and now I have 30 locations. Hopefully I can replicate this success story.
What do you most regret spending money on?
I never regret spending money on anything, even if it was an absolute waste of money. This is part of being a successful businessman. You have to accept bad decisions just like the good ones and always look forward.
What financial advice would you offer your younger self?
Relax about your financial decisions and stop worrying whether things will happen or not. Tension brings in panic, and panic is definitely destructive for any business.
Do you have a plan for the future?
My plan is to continue expanding my business and at the same time enjoy my life and my family. I’m a firm believer that getting too hooked on work will ruin your personal life. We are here in this world to enjoy it.
If you won Dh1m, what would you do with it?
Donate it to charity, especially to children in need.
What would you raid your savings account for?
Absolutely for cars and yachts, these are two things that I really enjoy. I drive a Mercedes, but I am also very lucky to own a boat here in Dubai and another one in Egypt.
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