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Dubai: from traveling by boat to treat patients to building a business empire – News

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Published: Thursday, November 30, 2023, 6:00 am

It would be difficult to imagine a business magnate whose company is valued at around $2 billion, traveling from ship to ship to treat his patients, while attributing the success of his empire to “accidental success.”

Recently, Aster DM Healthcare raised eyebrows by splitting its businesses in India and GCC. A consortium led by Fajr Capital, a sovereign-owned private equity firm based in the United Arab Emirates, acquired a 65 per cent stake in the GCC business and the promoters, the Moopen family retained 35 per cent ownership. in the GCC business.

Healthcare entrepreneur Dr Azad Moopen revealed his humble beginnings in 1987, following the announcement of this remarkable transaction. He also talked about his future plans of selling a majority stake in the Gulf business.

In an interview with Khaleej Times on Wednesday, he said, “Back then we were very close to Rashid port, which used to be the main port back then. He used to go by boat to the ship that was anchored in the sea to treat patients. There would be sailors who could not reach the shore. We used to give them vaccines and do other treatments. Those were days when everything was a one-man show.”

humble beginning

From the humble beginning of a clinic in Al Rafa, Dubai, started on December 11, 1987, Aster DM Healthcare has grown to 918 facilities in 36 years, becoming one of the largest healthcare providers in the GCC countries and India.

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“I am a doctor by training and I taught at the Calicut Medical College in Kerala (India). I used to juggle being a general practitioner, doing obstetrics, gynecology, surgery, everything except childbirth.”

Recalling a different time in the UAE, Moopen expressed that life was challenging back then, where every aspect seemed like an obstacle. Obstacles arose at all times, especially when it came to hiring qualified professionals.

“One of the major obstacles was putting together a team of doctors. My relative, a pediatrician, who joined then, was the second doctor on board. Recruiting not only doctors but also nurses and paramedics proved to be a major challenge. Additionally, obtaining permits was another obstacle. Nowadays, everything seems to happen effortlessly and at our fingertips, thanks to Dubai’s digitalization drive. However, back then, I clearly remember visiting the labor department, immigration office and other places, queuing to get visas for our colleagues.”

He came to the UAE to join a friend’s clinic.

He remembers that an acquaintance opened a clinic in Ajman and invited him to work as a doctor, as the emirate lacked practicing postgraduate doctors.

“I came to the UAE to work with one of my friends who were a couple of doctors based in Ajman. I took a year off from my home teaching career. But once I got here, my friend pressured me to stay in Dubai and told me that someone with a postgraduate degree and additional qualifications should be in a place like this. In fact, he supported me to start the first clinic. So, this was an ‘accidental success.’”

Moopen, who holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS), a Doctor of Medicine and a Diploma in the Treatment of Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases (DTCD), said his nascent clinic had just one doctor before other doctors started To join. “After a while, we opened a pharmacy.”

“At that time, the doctor who encouraged me to go to Dubai also gave me support without me asking. We were a well-to-do family in our hometown and some relatives even offered us financial help to help us raise the initial funds. So, financing was not a major problem; there was broad support. The most important thing is that there were many people from my hometown who helped me at that time.”

‘God pushes you in a direction you cannot anticipate’

However, after five years, Moopen wanted to return to medical school because of his love for the teaching profession.

But fate had other intentions for him. Reflecting on it now, Moopen mentioned that it may have been this noble aspiration that laid the foundation for an important event in his life.

“At that time, if I had worked for two years with my friend in Ajman and returned, it would have been a completely different story. God pushes you in a direction you cannot anticipate. There are people who come and do that for you. The only advice I have is that there will be opportunities knocking at your door. You have to open it. “Don’t complain about the noise pollution from those bangs.”

When asked if, after all these years, there are still employees from before, he mentioned: “My friend, who is a doctor, is still part of our team. He currently serves as Medical Director of the clinics. Also, some other staff from that era are still here.”

‘Extra father’ to take care of the baby

Meanwhile, in response to the current developments in the transaction, the Moopen family expresses its desire to remain involved in the GCC business.

“For Alisha and I, there is no problem here because we still have an intact baby with us and we have an additional parent who has come to take care of him (the baby). So, we are still the parents of that child, and that someone who has arrived is the support. That’s how I see it”.

Alisha Moopen.

Alisha Moopen.

Dr. Azad Moopen will continue in his role as Founder and Chairman and will oversee the India and GCC businesses, while Alisha Moopen will be promoted to the role of Managing Director and Group CEO of the GCC business.

“One important thing was that we wanted to make sure we got a partner that would allow us to run the business ourselves. This is the way we have maintained this partnership. Although they have invested more than us, we have requested it and they have graciously allowed us to have operational control because they know that we are better at managing the business, while they are extremely good at managing the finances.”



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