Do you remember your first encounter with Commercial Bank?
I was 30 maybe. Before that date, I had been invited by Sheikh Ali bin Jabor Al-Thani, Salmeen Al-Soweidi and Omar Al-Mana
…So you were all friends?
Yes. Then we started to build a bank.
You and Hussain Alfardan?
Yes. I’ve known him since I came to Doha along time ago, maybe more than 40 or 45 years.
Were you not born in Doha?
No, in Bahrain.
Why has the Bank been so successful?
Because they do very good things for the Qataris and they have started to encourage them to build infrastructure.
What was Doha like in 1959?
Doha was very, very small. There was not much money. The sheikh and royal family maybe had some, but others didn’t have any.
So what happened? Why did Qatar suddenly become what it is?
The first cause is petrol, and then the leadership.
Do you miss the old days?
No, because now is better, of course. You couldn’t get anything, you could not build anything, you had no money, nothing.
What business are you in yourself?
At first I was in furniture and carpets from the UK and America. I gave this up and started in shares. Now just share trading and building construction. I buy land sometimes. I make buildings. I started with petrol stations.
How many petrol stations do you own?
I have 21. I started very small. You know, I was a teacher in Bahrain.
So you are a self-made man?
Yes. I had no money before I came to Doha. I built myself slowly-slowly.
Do you think you would have had the same success if you had stayed in Bahrain?
What words of wisdom would you pass on to your children in view of your own experience? Life is easy now, isn’t it?
Life is not easy, no. What do you mean by ‘easy’?
Compared to other countries, Qatari life is easy.
Yes, in Qatar maybe it’s easy. It’s easy now, but it will get harder as competition grows. ‘Life’s resources are limited,’ we say. But Qatar has progressed so much, more than we ever dreamed.