Saudi NRI starts business in Hyderabad; sets trend

Daneesh Majid

Hyderabad: For some, the rustic alleys of Old City are mere playgrounds for exotic adventures. Others just dismiss them as scars on the New City or the other urban landscape, one from which youth usually don’t amount to much.

However, the second assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Plus, when it comes to Old as well as New City NRIs who have made it big, it is only the migrants to North American or European countries whose success stories find glamourous prominence.

The Gulf NRIs who have provided just as much, if not more, economic remittances to Hyderabad, sometimes end up as afterthoughts (or red-headed stepchildren).

Asrar Ali Khan, a native of Hussaini Alam and advertising professional-cum-fashion entrepreneur, has made his mark in Riyadh.  

Yet it certainly doesn’t render his journey to success as superior or inferior to those of the Chicago-based Hyderabadis.  

Growing up, he didn’t have it easy though.

“A rough childhood instilled an anger in me that could have destroyed my life had I let it engulfed me,” recalls Asrar Ali Khan, an advertising professional-cum-fashion entrepreneur.

Although Old City isn’t the ghetto that some brazenly dismiss it as, like other parts of Hyderabad, the puraana shehar environment wasn’t always one that rendered Asrar’s own environment conducive to his overall development. That too, especially in relation to the atmosphere of many new city households.

However, support from his mother and relatives helped him keep his head straight in spite of all the domestic and educational obstacles that lay ahead.

Of course, there was Asrar’s passion towards the interplay between the buyer, seller, and the process of connecting the two.

Busting a myth that talent is only innate, he says, “Not everyone who is creatively endowed with certain capabilities born with them.  One’s passion, discipline, time, and devotion to their craft have the ability to outshine somebody else’s natural talent.”

And hard work really has a way of beating that talent and educational qualifications when both don’t work hard. Khan completed his Bachelors in Creative Multimedia from Limkokwing University in Malaysia during which he took various freelance assignments for the Saudi Arabia based Al-Rajhi Bank.

To finance his education, he used to travel between three countries as the resident permit for foreigners on assignments used to expire every six months.

Yet, the learning didn’t stop there as he also pursued his post-graduate studies through an online course from the University of Aberdeen – UK. Cognizant of his abilities during his freelance engagement, Al-Rajhi then hired him as a Consultant.

Although only a full-time position at the well-reputed bank would do justice to his talent.

Throughout this journey, Khan’s wife Rehmat Unnisa who has an engineering degree and an MBA has been a pillar of support. Much like him, she too has her own artistic inclinations as well — be it is baking or blogging about her Grandmother’s old Hyderabadi recipes.

Although the couple’s collective acumen that both Asraar and Rehmat is very much the driving force behind their new venture, the Islamic Design House. Being an advertising professional, Asraar’s market research and conversations with many acquaintances lead both to believe that there was an untapped market in Hyderabad for modest yet fashionable attire.

One thing lead to another and the couple became franchisees of a London-based apparel company known as Islamic Design House.

Their recently opened store in the Hyderabad’s City Centre Mall has opened to very positive response thus far. Being an MBA with an entrepreneurial knack, Rehmat is more than equipped to handle the store while Asraar simultaneously juggles his job.

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