M.A Yusuffali, Chairman of Indian-owned multinational conglomerate Lulu Group is confident that Gulf countries with strong sovereign wealth funds can overcome the present crisis and rise stronger than before post-COVID-era.
“This situation in the Gulf region is temporary. Even though not a pandemic, we have seen similar situations before like the Gulf War, financial crisis and oil price crash. Gulf region can withstand such situations. Gulf nations have reserves and assets to prevail in this crisis. Over the years, the revenue made from crude has been invested astutely. And they have strong sovereign wealth fund. When Abu Dhabi sold $7 billion in bonds, the order book hit $45 billion. This is evidence of the Gulf countries’ capacity.”
“No doubt this is a crisis situation but we all live in hope for a better future. This phase too will pass. Gulf will emerge stronger than before. Opportunity and business will return.”
Mr. Yusuffali explained that Lulu Group, which runs shopping malls and stores across the GCC, has suffered a drop in business. “Wherever we have a business, all those places, face lockdown in the region.”
Until the first week of May, all shops inside malls, apart from hypermarkets, groceries and pharmacies, were closed. Even as shopping malls reopened in the UAE, there are a host of limitations forced on the capacity of visitors and operating hours.
“Due to restrictions, we couldn’t do business in full swing. So, our business may be hit by 50 percent in these places,” he said and added all staff were paid salaries. Mr. Yusuffali emphasized people needn’t panic as Lulu stores had enough food stock for a year.
“Availability of food is a priority. Three months back, we started stocking and have supplies for the next nine months and soon backup will be there for 12 months. So there is no need for panic buying.”
Mr. Yusuffali emphasized if the COVID-19 situation remains then the Group may think earnestly about e-commerce. “We didn’t anticipate such a situation and failed to cope up with the need for e-commerce and dark store. This is a learning curve. If COVID-19 continues then we will focus on e-commerce, dark store and such concepts. We are working a way out.”