x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Digging the good and the bad

Money & Me: Saif Al Zarouni, an Emirati entrepreneur, is the founder of YaDig.com, the independent review site.

Saif Al Zarouni says his review website, YaDig.com, helps people to find the best places to visit in the Emirates. Before the site there was no trusted place to find such information, Mr Al Zarouni said. Antonie Robertson / The National
Saif Al Zarouni says his review website, YaDig.com, helps people to find the best places to visit in the Emirates. Before the site there was no trusted place to find such information, Mr Al Zarouni said. Antonie Robertson / The National

Saif Al Zarouni is an Emirati entrepreneur who set up the independent review site YaDig.com in 2010. Mr Al Zarouni, who was born in the UAE, but raised in the United States, returned to the Emirates a decade ago. Since then, he's founded four companies, including a scaffolding and framework business.

How would you describe your financial journey so far?

It's definitely been a roller coaster - and I am talking about the Formula Rossa at Ferrari World! The UAE is a fast-paced business environment, so the good times can be really good and the bad times really bad.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I would say more of spender, I like to go by the principle: 'You have to spend money to make money.' I just try not to get carried away.

What's your philosophy regarding money?

I have a little, I would like more.

What motivated you to set up YaDig?

I was motivated to set up YaDig after being tired of not knowing the right places to visit in the UAE, in addition to a series of unpleasant experiences where time and money were spent at the wrong venues.

What is the idea behind YaDig?

The idea is that people here go out and use businesses for everything, from dining to tailors to cleaners, you name it. There was no place where you could find trusted information about contact details and the location, along with real, honest reviews and everything you need in one place ... until YaDig came along. We are the solution that lets people find the good and not so good places in their city.

Is it difficult launching an online start-up?

Oh, yes! I would say it is like being dropped into the middle of a forest fire and someone telling you to put it out. There are so many different things coming at you that it is hard to know what to accomplish first or focus on. It's very close to the chicken or the egg conundrum, what to do first, when and where to focus. It all comes down to experience and, again, we're very blessed to have a team with tonnes of experience and that makes things easier.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

Plenty. Hopefully, I won't make too many more, but I guess that is the learning process.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

Yes, totally. Without a path to focus on, how will you know where you want to end up?

Is money important to you?

Of course. It's what makes the Earth go around ... that and the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

Not having to worry about money.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

Friends, family and vacations.