Emirati property developer and sustainable luxury entrepreneur Mohammed bin Zaal is rapidly accumulating an impressive collection of awards. Pioneering works, like a CEO role in his father’s legacy project Al Barari, which was one of the first ecologically sensitive developments in Dubai, initially set the tone. Now Zaal’s focus has shifted.
The ambitious 37-year-old is walking his own path, with “patience, persistence, and more patience” – attributes he believes are key. “My father is a traditional Emirati and my mother is from northern England,” shares Zaal of his multicultural heritage. “My wife’s family is from Australia and New Zealand. I was brought up understanding and respecting both my parents’ cultures but living and growing up here, I am deeply rooted in Emirati society. Arab culture is one of passion, emotion, and etiquette. Without my culture, I would have nothing.”
Far from the hungry vision of a property plutocrat, the businessman exudes an affinity for nature and exploration; collecting and growing chili plants from all over the world is a hobby. “Beauty in all things inspires me, as does traveling, tasting, and experiencing everything the world has to offer,” he says. He is a man of ideas. Koa, his real estate development project, merges rural surrounds and native vegetation with a modern, urban aesthetic. Having launched Nasab, Dubai’s first members’ only work, wellness, and social club, in February, Zaal’s initiatives are innovating and invigorating the architectural landscape. Nasab is a place where members can work, learn, and relax around like-minded people. Think of it as a more restrained version of the ever-expanding Soho House brood, minus the hotel rooms. It has private and shared workspaces, meeting rooms, two pools, fitness and photography studios, and dining areas. It’s often difficult to perceive a private members’ space as devoid of pretense, but Nasab manages to attain this naturally. “The way people work has changed; people need flexibility and mobility, and they want to be inspired,” he Zaal. “Nasab was built to respond to this changing work dynamic. There are a lot of creatives in Dubai and they can feel at home at Nasab.” His winning combination seems to enrich the lifestyles of those fatigued by a frivolous “VIP” culture through an authentic connection to nature, the arts, and high-end amenities.
During his role as CEO of Al Barari, Zaal helped grow the business from 10 employees to more than 500, while founding other service-based companies, including Sustainable Builders, Green Works, Wojood Facilities Management, and Voyager Travel & Tourism. His greatest achievement, he says, though, is his son. “I, unfortunately, spend far too much time on my work and not enough time with my family. It’s a constant battle to have a healthy balance. This is something I continue to strive for. I set myself difficult goals in my personal and professional life. I’m content when planning the next goal, troubled when executing it, and most content when I achieve it.” With a family heritage that dates back to the early 19th century, it’s no wonder that passion lies at the heart of what he does. “My father gave me confidence and taught me to never give up,” he shares. “Life throws you maybe one chance for success and a hundred for failure – so always take the chance.”
Nasab membership starts from AED450 pm.
Originally published in the fall/winter 2019 issue of Vogue Man Arabia