x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Eureka moment in Abu Dhabi

The Life: In June 2010, Arnie Hira took refuge in the business centre at The Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. The next few minutes were to change their lives.

Arnie Hira conceived Simply Abu Dhabi magazine to promote the luxury nature of the UAE capital, while staying in the Emirates Palace. Courtesy Arnie Hira
Arnie Hira conceived Simply Abu Dhabi magazine to promote the luxury nature of the UAE capital, while staying in the Emirates Palace. Courtesy Arnie Hira

In June 2010, Arnie Hira took refuge in the business centre at The Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. He had had a disagreement with his business partner Jordana Lynch and needed space to clear his mind.

The duo, also a couple and both from northern England, were visiting the UAE capital for a break after the recent folding of Mr Hira's business, a glamorous restaurant in Manchester's city centre.

The next few minutes were to change their lives, planting the seed that has grown into the luxury publication Simply Abu Dhabi, which is delivered "by invitation only" to royalty, politicians, celebrities and business leaders in the UAE and around the world.

"I googled 'Abu Dhabi' and found nothing that highlighted the luxury in the city. I identified an opportunity to showcase the capital's luxury lifestyle and eureka Simply Abu Dhabi was born," Mr Hira says.

Now in its third year, the magazine, which was first published in March 2010, is released quarterly with 7,000 printed copies distributed globally. In addition, the title boasts 130,000 Facebook followers, 13,000 LinkedIn connections and more than 500,000 email subscribers to the electronic version.

Mr Hira is thankful he acted on his instincts in that moment.

"I immediately searched for all domain names and trademarks relating to our newborn business and registered the names where applicable. We had a new business," he says.

However, Mr Hira knows only too well that businesses don't materialise and succeed on whim alone.

The 39-year-old entrepreneur's late grandfather and father both prospered with the family business, The Hira Company, which specialises in electronics. Mr Hira worked for the company as a senior sales director handling multimillion-pound accounts until the call to forge a business of his own struck in his mid-30s.

His first venture was the ill-fated restaurant, founded with premiership footballer investors and costing £4.3 million (Dh24.6m). Despite employing top chefs and attracting celebrities such as Jay Z, Kanye West and Lionel Richie, the business closed in 2011.

Retreating to Abu Dhabi to stay with family and reassess his business future, Mr Hira took a leap of faith when he conceived the idea of a publication to promote the luxury nature of the UAE capital.

"Jordana and I went back to the UK and contacted the creative team from the restaurant and told them that we wanted to create a digital publication. We wanted to create an ultra exclusive product in terms of design, imagery and content," he says.

However, media agencies in Dubai Media City showed little interest in the concept except for a senior executive who suggested it should be in print.

Taking the comments on board, the couple returned to the United Kingdom with a desire to make Simply Abu Dhabi a printed title, much like a coffee-table book, but this meant a significant difference in cost.

"We were very tight on finances. It was a very stressful time. However, we decided to sell our cars and invest in a printed version. It was a reality check and time to step up," he reveals.

After announcing the print version in the UAE, several advertisers booked pages and the ball got rolling. They acquired costing from various printers and distribution companies in the Emirates and accepted a quote from UPP printers, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media.

The contract has proved fortuitous and Mr Hira is quick to point out his gratitude for this business relationship.

"We are constantly lured away by other printers offering us more competitive quotes but we consider UPP family. They have sheltered us from harms way since day one and treated Simply Abu Dhabi as their own, it's a wonderful company," he says.

Earlier this summer Mr Hira was back at the Emirates Palace hotel, almost three years to the day from when he had that initial business idea.

Staying there to celebrate the 10th issue of Simply Abu Dhabi, Mr Hira even managed to present his publication to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Mr Hira had noticed Sheikh Mohammed taking coffee in the hotel and asked if he might offer a copy.

Under the slogan "Born in Abu Dhabi, designed in Manchester, distributed throughout the world" the magazine continues to thrive.

 

business@thenational.ae