Interview with Omar Hussain Alfardan


Member of the Board, The Commercial Bank of Qatar

How does it feel to build an empire from scratch like your father has done? 

In the end you feel proud of what you have done provided that you have planned it well, worked hard to achieve it and enjoyed what you have achieved.

Which is better: the working hard or the enjoyment?

If you don’t know how to enjoy it, what’s the use of working hard? Now I am enjoying what I have worked hard for.

What is the logical end point, given this drive you all seem to have?

The ‘end’ is not part of the philosophy we have inherited. You continue working and you achieve one milestone after the other. And the ball continues rolling.

How do you keep kicking the ball into goal?

Focus is the motive behind the whole group philosophy, the focus we inherited from my father. He came from a pearl-trading family. A pearl, as you know, is full of details and is a living stone, not an ‘ending’ stone, so concentrating on the pearl in terms of all that happens around us is important. You don’t get diluted or lose concentration. The premium-segment position is what this family and this group are about.

How has your father been so consistent and untroubled by diversions?

He segregated each area of business to bring the right management to the right spectrum. We do not bring the best management of an industry like petrochemicals to manage a bank, or vice versa.

Were you groomed to be a Board Member of the Bank?

Succession planning is important in any group; my father saw that I could be his successor on the board of Commercial Bank. I have represented Commercial Bank in the National Bank of Oman, and I’m Vice chairman of United Arab Bank in the UAE. You don’t need to be the best banker to manage a bank, you need to be a good manager.

Would you call yourself a self-made man?

Not a self-made man, a man who came into a great family. After getting my MA, I saw the companies of Alfardan are only jewellery and exchange businesses. So I say there will be a limitation of growth if we continue growing in one country only. I started laying out a strategy for the group, looking at geographical diversification and expansion.

How do you relax in the midst of all this activity?

I’m in love with fishing! And I’ve started acquiring vintage cars and motorcycles. Every piece I bought has a story behind it.

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