PAKISTAN’S MOST RECKLESS BILLIONAIRE
Bahria Town is in process of bringing highest foreign investments worth the US $ 50 Billion through various iconic projects
Malik Riaz is a name that has come up exceptionally well in the past decade for developing world-class communities the size of cities, which have the strongest infrastructure in the country and promise a lifestyle unparalleled by any other developer in Pakistan. Mr. Hussain has gained the nation’s trust at every step of his journey of becoming the iconic figure he is today. Not only has he exceeded his commitments in all his construction ventures but has also been there for the nation during times of need. He dreams of being remembered as a philanthropist rather than a real estate tycoon. The credit for Bahria Town’s exceptional success story goes to his clairvoyant vision, his commitment to deliver and the blessings of the Almighty.
Mr. Hussain was born in Sialkot to a middle-class family. After the collapse of his father’s business at age 19, he had to face struggles he was not akin to. In 1969 he jumpstarted his career with some borrowed money to start his contracting career with a small time military contract which laid the foundation of today’s success story; Bahria Town.
As of 1969 he had no assets to his name and was just making ends meet. Slowly and steadily his financial condition started to improve and from 1969 to May 1986 he kept entertaining small contracts and continued to multiply his earnings while religiously setting aside 2.5% for charity (zakat), as a friend of his had once advised.
In 1996 he arrived at the milestone of his career with the inception of Bahria Town in collaboration with the Bahria Foundation of Pakistan Navy but the Navy decided to exit the venture after two years and Mr. Hussain bought the navy’s half of the shares along with the rights to the name of the company as a private limited company. From there on Bahria Town sky-rocketed and today has the title of “Asia’s largest private real estate developer”.
To mention just a few of his philanthropic initiatives; he has provided fully constructed homes for free to the flood victims in the form of the Modern Village, he has established dozens of Dastarkhwan’s across the nation where more than 100,000 people get 2 free meals 365 days a year, in his charitable schools more than 10,000 children get free education, he has set up orphanage homes with complete boarding, lodging, and educational facilities as well as senior citizen homes for the underprivileged elderly Pakistani citizens. Bahria Town has provided free medical treatments to thousands of patients in the Bahria Town hospitals and also makes regular donations to charitable organizations like Shaukat Khanum Memorial, Al-Shifa Trust Edhi Foundation, SOS Village and much more. Also, Bahria Town has always been at the forefront to help the entire nation during times of natural calamities and catastrophic events.
Malik Riaz Hussain is truly a man larger than life. He has completely transformed the face of Pakistan’s real estate sector, which due to his efforts has been recognized as a progressive industry
The above said are the overt expressions of his character which are common knowledge for everybody. There are many more facts of his life which are hidden from the common public that is even nobler and praiseworthy, yet he desires to keep those between himself and ALLAH Almighty.
Luminary: Please share some insight into the milestones of Bahria Town, history, and current situation. Challenges on the way to developing such a substantial project?
Malik Riaz Hussain: In my initial years in the construction industry, that is if you could call it that in those days, I strongly felt a need for real estate projects and living communities that could offer the right environment complementing human needs for a good life in all its aspects. Integrated property development till then was a myth that needed to come alive in the form of completely planned housing and commercial spaces. No attention was being paid to detail and quality, let alone innovation. Most importantly, there was no property developer, company or individual, who catered to the diverse requirements of the different socio- economic classes in Pakistan, especially the lower income bracket segment. All real estate projects targeted the wealthy and the affluent. I traveled extensively to Europe, Middle East, Australia and South East Asia and studied the best and latest practices in urban development. They were highly impressive and helped me in identifying a clear vision. With my research and visualization, the project of “Bahria Town” seemed to be the next logical step. My main Inspiration for therefore comes from Dubai. The way the construction industry has transformed Dubai‘s landscape is awe-inspiring, thanks to which the whole region has seen tremendous growth in business and tourism. I wish to follow the same model here in Pakistan, to fuel our economic growth.
Alhamdulillah, today, Bahria Town has established itself by delivering projects to the scale of cities, where hundreds of thousands of residents are enjoying a complete lifestyle. There have been numerous challenges including no government support in terms of fixed rules & regulations for the developers; bureaucratic machinery taking ages for approvals or providing the details; no check on housing societies who fail to deliver and damage the repute of the industry.
Luminary: What is the key to success of Bahria town?
Malik Riaz Hussain: The secret behind Bahria Town’s unprecedented success is our unique developmental strategy. A project is spread over ten quarterly installments to be paid in over 3 years. The company puts huge capital during the first year in facilities so that at the time of competition of all allied services of the infrastructure are ready to serve residents. These services include mosques, hospitals, schools, post offices, police stations, golf courses, commercial areas, food courts, emergency services, entertainment centers and 24/7 maintenance wing. This is to compliment the migration process of the residents and to make their daily life hassle-free. The capital is generated through a rich scale of projects spread over different cities which help the company manage its finances smartly in the interests of its future residents. Bahria Town religiously believes in the concept of “Community first; profitability follows.”
Luminary: What are the investment opportunities in Bahria town for foreign investors and the level of the return on investment?
Malik Riaz Hussain: Alhamdulillah, the commitment to quality and on-time delivery of a project in itself is an assurance for all those who have invested in Bahria projects which have time and again translated into high returns for all associated with Bahria in various capacities; our investor enjoys the highest returns. We are working with some of the finest brands from the western world and all 8 divisions of Bahria Town are great opportunities for foreign investors. In construction, for machinery procurement and MEP/Town Planning, and working on other technical aspects, we have Area, a leading Turkish firm working with us for last 10 years. In the power sector, there is a lot of potentials and we have already signed an MOU with K-Electric for coal-fired & LNG powered stations. In Retail, Bahria Town is working in collaboration with a lot of international brands. In Hospitality, we are working with well recognized international brands, and many other brands have shown interest in our Karachi projects as well. In Entertainment, we are even open to having an international cinema or any other international brand offering entertainment in Bahria Town. In short, we want to deliver the best and are looking for every international partner who has the ability to help us in achieving that.
Luminary: Any new expansion plans or projects in the pipeline?
Malik Riaz Hussain: We are very excited about future opportunities. What we have achieved in last nineteen years has revolutionized the real estate industry. This is only the beginning. During the next five years, many more of my projects will see fruition. The developments that we have embarked on during the last two years will be completed. Many lifestyle communities for all income groups are in the pipeline. With these ongoing projects, we will, InshaAllah, also be expanding to other cities.
Projects in the pipeline also include Bahria Town Icon, the tallest building in Pakistan and also its first mega structure. I am also excited about the opening of our international standard theme park, Bahria Adventure in Bahria Town Karachi, which will provide leisure & thrill opportunity to the entertainment-starved residents of Karachi. Rides from Italy have already reached Pakistan and being installed!
Luminary: How you look at the International image of Pakistan and the challenges we are facing currently? How will this perception improve over time and what needs to be done to precipitate that process?
Malik Riaz Hussain: Pakistan’s international image has suffered many an onslaught, verbal and written. An image that is more contrived to suit the personal objectives of the few than to bear an unbiased testimony to its tremendous progress in various fields of human endeavor. The maligning is not justified of a country that bears the brunt of the war against terrorism and is subjected to harsh judgment only in this context. The only way to deal with this international onslaught and defamation is for Pakistan to build its economy to a point it becomes a need of the world. This can be achieved through a surge in infrastructural development throughout the country, which is already in place from Karachi to Khyber and in remote areas including the deserts and the hill stations. Evolving transparent systems and abiding by our commitments as envisaged are going to be the impetus for the country’s growth and potential.
Luminary: What is the potential of Real Estate industry here in Pakistan as well in International Markets? And its contribution towards economic development and GDP?
Malik Riaz Hussain: Globally, the construction, and engineering services industry are regarded the largest and most fragmented industry accounting for 10-12% of GDP in many countries. Real Estate is the largest asset class. It can boost economic activities in approximately 55 allied industries. The multiple effects can create maximum employment opportunities in addition to generating industrial, commerce and trade activities. In Pakistan too, construction and engineering services sector are one of the fastest developing and Bahria Town has played a pioneering role in commercializing real estate development and marketing, nationwide.
There is a huge backlog of housing units, about a quarter of a million, to be precise and growing every day, which in itself is a huge entrepreneurship opportunity for all those who are anticipating of investing in this sector. The housing industry is all set to bloom, as the role of the Government to lower markups would prove instrumental in ensuring an unprecedented growth in this industry. Due to supply-demand dynamics, real estate has a huge potential in Pakistan’s economy and can be the prime driver of national growth. The interest based monthly payment should be equivalent to the on-going rental value that would definitely improve the dynamics of this fast growing industry.
While the real estate industry is emerging and evolving, this gives Bahria Town a unique opportunity to take things to the next level with more exciting and innovating concepts that are in the pipeline.
Luminary: Pakistan is a land abundant in business opportunities for investors would you like to highlight any lucrative opportunities and regions for potential investment?
Malik Riaz Hussain: The abundance of resources amalgamated with favorable policies for investors provide lucrative opportunities in all domains including transportation, hospitality, tourism, education, power, healthcare and various other sectors. From the business perspective, Pakistan offers endless opportunities for all those aspiring for high returns on their investment.
The whole country is a region for lucrative investment opportunities for those who understand its worth and its abundance of resources. Anyone who wishes to work with the positive attitude and sincerity will not be left with a lack of ideas and opportunities. Pakistan is emerging as a country that has a lot to offer and is redefining the investment and business landscape offering a huge potential for growth for all those who need to accomplish much in their respective fields. There is much to be done in each sector and all this, if done right, is bound to produce the best for all those who will be present in this dynamic and the fast evolving business environment.
Luminary: As one of the richest people in the country right now, from being a clerk you have turned a billionaire in a span of 20 years. What are the most important strategic decisions you’ve made to contribute to the success of the company? Why so successful?
Malik Riaz Hussain: My motivation is to build Pakistan. My keys to success are faith in Almighty, innovation, fair dealings, patriotism and investing everything back in Pakistan, commitment to helping the underprivileged and fulfilling commitments in a timely manner. At the core of everything that I do lie the spirit to ensure that I benefit the maximum number of people in my lifetime in one way or the other which also keeps me going. If a zest that would not have been there at the core there was something other than humanity.
Luminary: What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader? What makes a good leader in Pakistan’s business environment?
Malik Riaz Hussain: Leadership is the power to dream big, take timely and brave decisions, and lead by example, from the front.
Luminary: What are your company ambitions for the future? Where do you see Bahria Town in next five years?
Malik Riaz Hussain: Real Estate will always remain our core business. However, we have invested heavily in other segments which are all verticals for providing facilities and to serve our residents. These include Hospitality, Leisure & Entertainment, Education, Healthcare and so on, which have further segments for example hospitality includes Golf Courses & Golf and Country Clubs, Hotels, Resorts & Serviced Apartments, Restaurants & Food Courts while Commercial & Retail comprise our own brands like Greenvalley, purpose-built Shopping Malls, KTCC i.e. the Karachi Trade & Commodities Center. We are very excited about the future opportunities that lay ahead of us. What we have achieved in last nineteen years has revolutionized the real estate industry in Pakistan. For us, this is only the beginning of the realization of our dreams.
Most importantly we will be expanding to other cities including Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Hyderabad & Sukkhur.
During the next five years, many more of my projects will see fruition. The developments that we have embarked on during the last two years will be completed.
Many more lifestyle communities for all income groups are in the pipeline. Their development has already started.