x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Age changes view on spending

Money and me: Fadi Malas, the chief executive of Just Falafel, oversees one of the most successful food and beverage concepts to emerge in the UAE.

Fadi Malas says his saving habits have improved as he has grown older. Today, he keeps his money in property. Lee Hoagland / The National
Fadi Malas says his saving habits have improved as he has grown older. Today, he keeps his money in property. Lee Hoagland / The National

Fadi Malas oversees one of the most successful food and beverage concepts to emerge in the UAE. Just Falafel operates in six countries but it has sold into 16. Mr Malas, the chief executive, moved to Dubai in 2005 and was working in property and retail when the founder of Just Falafel, Mohamad Bitar, asked him to join the company.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I think the older I get the more of a saver I am becoming because you start thinking differently. Once you spend on a certain item you lose the need to spend on it again. As I grow up I'm growing wiser and spending less. I am known to save primarily in real estate. I love real estate. I own quite a few [apartments].

What is your philosophy regarding money?

It depends from which context. If you look at money from a lifestyle standpoint, it is one thing and if you look at it from a business standpoint it is completely different, because you need to do well in business to make money and to spend it in your private life. So my perspective of money changes when I get home and when I am back in the office the next morning it means something else to me.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

I have made many. I think growing up it is very difficult not to, I know very few people who haven't lost money in the stock market, including myself, or in the dot-com bubble burst, including myself, or in real estate, including myself, but it is all a function of how much have you lost in relation to how much you have. Were you too greedy to overstretch yourself? Or … would you be comfortable if you lost it all? I don't think I have been greedy, so I have always been able to lose something that I can bear. I learn from everything that I do every day, particularly in finance decisions. I try to not ever make the same mistake twice.

Do you believe in planning for the future? If so, why?

Well, I think definitely you need to plan for the future. Nobody knows what the future is going to bring and none of us has a crystal ball. I have four kids myself so I have to make sure that I have a lot of things set up for them going forward. I think the world is getting harder by the day and as much as I can contribute to their comfort it is something that I have sought myself, having them as my kids, so I think it is only responsible to do so.

Is money important to you? If so, why?

Money is becoming more and more of a utility. It is important to me as long as it gives me shelter, puts food on the table, it educates my kids and I have health care for the family. That's all I care about. I think money in business is more of a challenge and a hobby.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

It's a tough question. It's the ability to have the comfort that is in line with the lifestyle that you belong to at this time and age.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

I love food, honestly. If I'm travelling anywhere the first thing I look up is where am I going to be having lunch, where am I going to be having dinner? Also sometimes I can't stop myself from buying watches. I have more apartments than watches, because I think it's more important to buy apartments.