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Chairman of Al Fajr group, Obaid Humaid Al Mazrooei walks through memory lane, recounting how the first copy of his newspaper Dar Al Fajr printed at his press was a 'dream come true'

The UAE is a different market, there are 6 million foreigners.  The print industry here is much more exposed to technology, knowhow comes in from all corners of the world giving us an added advantage in the region.  Our leaders have long term vision.  Personally I have gained from the close interaction with them, I have travelled with Sheikh Zayed for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in New Delhi and on ten other occassions to England, France, Kenya and Turkey," said Obaid Humaid Al Mazrooei, Chairman of Al Fajr Group, (that owns Dar Al Fajr Printing, Publishing and Advertising in Abu Dhabi), in answer to the question on how the UAE print industry differs from others in the region.

Born in Ajman and educated in a mosque, Mazrooei is a self taught entrepreneur.  "Our family in those days were engaged in the building of mosques, and a mullah taught us from the Holy Quran. In the later years, I tried to improve my knowledge and thinking processes through extensive reading. We are three brothers, my younger brother Abdullah was Minister of Justice and Labour, and older brother looks after BMTC. In 1949, at the age of 14, I took up my first job in Saudi Arabia. I have worked in oil companies, started a bank -

Mazrooei established the  Al Fajr (meaning Dawn) newspaper in Abu Dhabi in 1974 and the printing press was set up in 1975. "When I was in Saudi Arabia I would contribute articles to the local newspaper.  Initially, we started printing in Kuwait as a weekly before establishing the press in Abu Dhabi two years later with a small team. We are now among the most modern presses today, and we plan to start another printing press within the next 3 months, exclusively for printing newspapers. The way we see it, we will be the regional hub for printing newspapers for other countries.

Expressing his disapproval at undercutting policies, Mazrooei said, "Printshops that follow undercutting practices are digging their own grave. How long can you survive by selling below cost?  Banks too will claim funds.  I know of two printing presses following such practices, they went bankrupt. This is not how we do business, but on the quality front, we are the best, no one can compete with us."

An avid swimmer and football player, Mazrooei says, "Our staff always attend major exhibitions including Drupa, expos in China and other parts of the world.  Success of any company depends on the management, how they lead the team, their involvement and commitment, how they handle staff. Employees are the reason money is coming into your pockets, one must treat them as brothers and take inputs from them."

Asked his opinion on geographical expansions, Mazrooei says, "I don't think we need to open branches in other regions, rather strenghten our operations within the UAE itself. As proof of our growing presence, I am proud to say that we recently received the first prize for our Pink Pages directory given to us by Sheikh Mohammed himself.  We are the first winners in the Arab world."

Looking ahead Mazrooei says he would like Dar Al Fajr to be the largest press in the region, not merely by turnover but by profit. "Anyone who has established an organisation wants his company to grow by leaps and bounds, and become one of the largest players in the field.  But growth in terms of profits is more stable, since further growth and development depends in the availability of finance. Also, we do not think that there is no room for further printing presses to be established.  My opinion is that competition is not something to be afraid of, as long as the fight is fair, it will lead to greater professionalism and printers aiming to improve themselves, be more prudent with their fiscals and resources.  However, one advice I would like to give new start up companies, is that do not establish a firm without own funds, merely borrowing and further borrowing is very risky for a business."

To the question, which was the most memorable moment in your career, Mazrooei says, "The day  the first copy of our newspaper, Al Fajr rolled out of our press (Dar Al Fajr).  That, for me, was a dream come true."

Mazrooei signs off saying, "Business is there, people have to find it."