Oweis Zahran on streamlining everything automotive in the UAE
Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle will tell you at some point of the pains of getting it serviced, or buying a spare part or selling it—Oweis Zahran wants to put an end to all that. Under his holding company, OWS Automotive Solutions, he continues to create partnerships with several of the region’s governments to try and streamline the processes of everything automotive.
“The biggest thing lacking in the automotive industry anywhere is honesty, so that’s what I build into the core of all my businesses,” he says. “For most people a car is the second biggest purchase they will ever likely make—after a house—so they tend to be very aware of what they need. People are not ignorant or foolish, so you need to create something that will add value to their lives.”
Despite becoming a self-made millionaire by his early twenties, Zahran attributes a lot of his success to hard work and working with people to be part of the solution. “I’m a firm believer in partnerships. It is the quickest and strongest way to grow both personally and professionally.”
The American-born entrepreneur is also a firm believer in the potential of the region, and is committed to making a positive impact.
“When your country is less than 50 years old, certain fundamentals that exist in more mature economies may not exist yet—helping build those fundamentals is what I want to contribute to the region.”
We sat down with Zahran as part of Esquire’s 10 for the next 10 issue. You can read the whole interview below.
What is OWS?
OWS is a holding company that owns shares in a few subsidiary companies, that are in partnership with the Dubai’s RTA, the Sharjah government, Ajman government, Bahraini government and Saudi government.
The automotive industry is a very vast industry, there are so many different facets to it. You could take any piece of it and turn it into a multi-million dollar industry. We want to become the one-stop-shop solution for pretty much anything automotive, whether that is renewing your vehicle registration, or buying a spare part or getting new tires – we have the company in place to provide you with the most seamless service to do that, thanks to our partnerships with the regions’ governments.
I’m a firm believer in partnerships. It is the quickest and strongest way to grow, especially if it is value added. The governments in the GCC are looking at catching up to the ‘West’, however when your country is less than 50 years old, you tend to realise that certain fundamentals that exist in more mature economies haven’t made it here yet, and that is what I want to contribute to the economy. I want to be a part of the solution.
Dubai has the best roads in the worlds, which is a major achievement.
What is the most pressing issue in your industry today?
The most pressing issue in the automotive industry in the Middle East is honesty. That’s kind of the case in the automotive world anywhere. Think about used car salesmen, where they have a reputation that you wouldn’t trust anything they say – but honesty is an area that is particularly important. I think the success of OWS because we wanted to be honest about things and by offering that in a world where it doesn’t really exist makes a huge difference. As one of my core values, I personal ensure that it is something my companies need to offer.
Is the region ready for that?
The industry is distracted by various elements of the industry. With things like electric cars and autonomous vehicles it is a situation where the existing players are using those new elements to hide other issues. Is the industry ready for honesty? Yes, I think the industry is hungry for it.
Anyone who owns a vehicle will tell you of their pains of getting their vehicle serviced at some point – the garage fixed something but broke something else – we’ve all heard those stories. It shows you that people are not ignorant or foolish. For most people your car is the second biggest investment that you are likely to make (after your house), so you tend to understand it.
Authorities are looking into it and cracking down on it, because the people want a more transparent service and they are ready for it.