10 on the Weekend – Mohammed Asaria: “Many Doubted We Would Put a Single Brick in the Ground”
Ten On The Weekend is a regular feature on IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each weekend, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.
This weekend’s guest is Mohammed Asaria of Range Developments.
How do you spend your weekends?
I currently reside in the UAE and we have a Friday and Saturday weekend. This typically means that Fridays are just another working day. Saturdays are for my three children and my lovely wife.
Prior to COVID-19, I would find myself traveling for three weekends out of four. Being grounded has given me the opportunity to spend much more time with my family. I would trade frequent flyer points for zoom any day, so I can continue doing this.
What are your top three business goals this year?
First – to restart the construction of the Six Senses Grenada. We achieved this last week with the appointment of our structural contractor. The appointment of our MEP contractor will follow, imminently. The aim is to “catch up” the COVID-delay to ensure we can deliver at the end of 2022 as planned.
Second – to reopen the Kempinski Dominca. With the support of the Government of Dominica and Kempinksi Hotels, we were able to achieve this in July. We were one of the first hotels in the Eastern Caribbean to reopen.
Third – to reopen the Park Hyatt St Kitts. We have re-opened one of our signature restaurants (Fisherman’s Village). We anticipate the wider resort to reopen on the 1st of October, subject to local laws and regulations permitting.
Fourth – To diversify. For the first time, we will be offering branded residential products to lifestyle purchasers in addition to our regular CBI granular offering. Adjacent to the Six Senses Grenada will be a collection of just six ultra-luxury Six Senses-branded and managed villas. We hope to be launching these units in the next two weeks.
What’s your biggest business concern right now?
Christian, when you run a development business, there are always challenges. The skill is being able to manage the challenges effectively without undue panic.
Which book is on your night-stand right now?
Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom. Here is a quote from the book for you:
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
Perhaps that should be read in conjunction with the answer to the previous question.
How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?
It was in 2011 when someone suggested that I obtain a Saint Kitts & Nevis passport through their CBI program. It was the first time I had come across the concept of citizenship by investment and it immediately resonated with me.
If you want to hear more about what happened next, we will soon be launching a series of podcasts on our website where I will be sharing how I started Range Developments and our journey over the years. It has been an intense, eventful, and fulfilling eight years.
What was your proudest moment as a developer?
Whenever we open one of our projects and reflect: Just a few years back, the resort was nothing but a part of our imagination on a greenfield site.
Putting the aesthetics and beauty of our resorts to one side for the moment, the local job creation and economic impact the development creates (across the whole island and the local communities) is something that motivates us.
In 2012, many doubted we would ever put a single brick in the ground. Today, we are proud to have become the leading CBI hospitality developer in the Caribbean and are on our way to complete our hattrick (Park Hyatt St Kitts, Kempinksi Dominica, and Six Senses Grenada) within a decade, whilst all of our peers are challenged to even complete one quality development.
Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
Let’s not use the word surprise, but the impact of COVID on investment migration was the biggest impact not just for this year but for the next few. Demand has gravitated to those CBI products that facilitate migration as well as provide for global mobility.
“Migration by Investment” was the term I coined for this shift earlier this year, in one of my pieces in my Cross-Examination column. I would encourage all to have another read as it will define the industry for the next few years.
If you could go 10 years back in time, what business decision would you change?
Cherish where you are today – there is no point living with regret. We do not have the ability to change the past or correct our mistakes [of which we have all made many] – just make sure you do not make the same mistakes again.
What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
The individual who conceptualized citizenship by investment in 1984 in Saint Kitts & Nevis (when it obtained independence) as a form of sovereign capital demands the entire industry’s respect. No one has quite been able to identify this individual to me, but he or she has my admiration.
If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?
More of the same! I tremendously enjoy running Range Developments. I have an awesome business partner in Kamal [Shehada] and a great team. Having the privilege to assist individuals on a daily basis with their second citizenship journeys (and removing prejudices from their lives) is fulfilling, as is creating landmark resorts and transforming destinations.
It is incredibly hard work, but that motivates us.