Get to know: Abdelkarim Awad

Four years ago, Abdelkarim Awad swapped life as the owner of a North American PC assembly business for a slice of the Middle East distribution and retail channel. We thought we’d get to know what the Grand Stores brand chief thinks about the regional market...

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Get to know: Abdelkarim Awad Abdelkarim Awad, Brand Manager, Grand Stores.
By  Andrew Seymour Published  November 15, 2009 Channel Middle East Logo

Four years ago, Abdelkarim Awad swapped life as the owner of a North American PC assembly business for a slice of the Middle East distribution and retail channel. We thought we’d get to know what the Grand Stores brand chief thinks about the regional market...


What’s your career history in the industry to date?

I worked in Canada for a long time and had my own company called Universal Computer, which built computers. In 2005 I came to Dubai. To be honest, I not only moved to Dubai because of its business boom, but because I wanted a better environment to raise my own children.

What is the most valuable business lesson you’ve learnt?

The importance of having the right product at the right time with the right price — that is something I learned from Mohamad Abu Issa, the owner of the company. This is especially true in the IT business because if you don’t bring the right product at the right specification — whether it is a laptop or another product — at the right time, then you will lose the opportunity.

What is the best deal you have ever closed?

It would be working with my team to make Grand Stores the exclusive distributor for MSI, one of the biggest companies in the IT industry. I have also helped to bring new and unique products from high value brands to the region with Grand Stores, such as Aiptek, Manhattan and Nortek.

What do you enjoy most about working in the Middle East IT market?

I enjoy the challenges that I face every day working in the Middle East. The retail environment is challenging and so is the market in general. There is certainly a lot more competition here than there was in Canada. Sometimes I have to take risks, which I really enjoy as well.

What is the proudest moment of your career to date?

I would say that my proudest moment is working with Grand Stores, one of the largest companies in the UAE and the number one retailer. Grand Stores works in two fields — retail and wholesale, and the team we have is very professional.

What do you dislike most about working in the market?

What I dislike about the market is the slow movement of everything, which is unfortunate. Procedures, marketing — everything is slow, just like the traffic! For example, you often have to get many signatures for the approval of something.

Which individual in the IT industry do you most admire?

It would have to be my manager, Dr. Omar Ghanayam. He graduated from the IT field and he also has management experience — it is very hard to find a person that is in those two fields and can combine them.

How would you describe your management style?

I try to prioritise determination with honesty with all team-members. I like to give workers flexibility and freedom in decision-making, as well as all the tools they need.

How do you relax outside of the work environment?

I like relaxing with my family, going outside swimming or visiting a mall for shopping.

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