Dounia Fadi is one of the top Real Estate Leaders in the UAE. Respected by her colleagues for her problem-solving and leadership skills, Fadi possesses the singular ability to empower agents and create a collaborative and cooperative team. After 16 years in the Dubai Real Estate marketplace and as the Chief Operating Officer of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gulf Properties, she leads a diverse team of hand-picked real estate professionals representing buyers and sellers locally and internationally. Fadi differentiates herself from the competition by thinking outside of the box, building a dedicated and loyal team and most importantly, putting the needs of her clients first. Featured by Forbes as a Business Leader and recently awarded Property Finder Woman Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020, Fadi is known for her ability to empower people and to promote women not just within her organization, but rather across the wider real estate community and beyond. She is also very passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience on both local and global platforms.
While growing up, the real estate mogul Fadi had no role model to look up to; however, she always held aspirations to shatter the glass ceiling in society and had a clear image of the woman she wanted to grow into and the qualities needed to succeed in life. She says, “It is only after I grew up and understood the world better that I started looking up and appreciating the work of the many women that came before me. These inspirational women paved the path for the next generations to follow. One amongst many that stands out for me is Ruth Bader Ginsburg for her tremendous work as an advocate for gender equality.” She added, “But I can tell you that every woman on this planet is contributing and inspiring young girls out there because women have multiple roles to play in our society not limited to working women.”
Following through with her vision in life, Fadi entered the world of Real Estate in Dubai with determination, zeal and relentless hard work to manifest her dream. However, when she started her career, Fadi says, “I wasn’t only a woman, I was also very young and looked even younger thanks to my mom’s genes, so yes I did experience misjudgment from the first look.” But that did not intimidate young Fadi and she continued her pursuit and excelled at her job. She says, “I showed them my capabilities and expertise and in mere seconds their reactions changed and everyone knew I was the right fit for the job.”
With her eyes set on her goal, she worked unceasingly to win over every buyer and make connections that forged her name in the world of UAE Real Estate. Fadi says, “I did work for a company for ten years and considered it my own, but very quickly, things took a turn as a new partner joined.” Refusing to give in and put her faith in someone else’s hand, she decided it was time to move on to the next chapter of her life. With her prowess in the industry, Fadi learnt the traits of the business and established her company, MD Properties in August 2016. Three years later she was approached by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and merged the two companies.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gulf Properties is an iconic, well-respected and globally renowned brand. Their announcement to expand in the Middle East was well received and gave a boost of confidence to the region’s Real Estate Sector. Fadi says, “Guided by the principles of trust, integrity, stability and longevity our mission is to be the go to real estate agency. It has been founded on professional excellence, being the representative of our core brand values.”
However, being a woman leader in the industry wasn’t an easy feat to achieve. Talking about the barriers to female leadership, she says, “I personally believe it is the fact that we started late, but we are working hard on bridging that gap. It is just a matter of time before all women get to where they deserve to be and that is in higher roles in the management.”
However, she adds that we can combat this issue faster by changing our mindset. “Women need to understand that everything is possible but it is important to start somewhere because that is the most difficult step in any process. Only after starting will they realize that with time and experience they gain confidence and knowledge that will carry them forward.” Fadi lives by the mantra, ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get.’ She adds the secret to winning in life is to be confident enough to ask, even if the answer is no. Because if you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.
As one of the leading female Real Estate Entrepreneurs in the UAE, Fadi says she always takes the opportunity to empower other women by sharing her journey to try and inspire women and mothers that they too can do it. She says, “I love to support women when they seek employment or in any way that they need to get started. Not to forget that I’m a mother of two little girls and I will do everything in my power to teach and raise them to be motivated and empowered individuals to contribute positively to society and achieve wonderful things for themselves and for the community.”
She has firmly instilled these values at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gulf Properties. The company has a Diversity and Inclusion department headed by a woman who works tirelessly to address these matters and ensure a balance is always maintained. With a satisfied smile, she adds, “In the Dubai office, our female workforce represents more than 55% of our total employees.”
However, she says, despite the noticeable gender gap in the industry, one of the most significant challenges she endured has been the constant pressure to adapt and innovate. She explains, “I started my real estate career in 2005, and since, the local market and the global economy have been very eventful. Of course having to endure these changes and reevaluate your strategy to keep moving forward requires courage and confidence.” She continued, “No one likes change, but it is an essential part of growth and you have to embrace it especially when everything in life is constantly evolving at an accelerated pace. If you don’t keep up, your risk of losing out is very high indeed.”
Besides her work responsibilities, Fadi is also a full-time mother with just the right work-life balance to give her love and attention to her job as well as her family. She adds, “I’m also a wife and a mother of 3 beautiful angels, my youngest is 3 months old. Being able to balance both is not easy at all. When I look back, I’m amazed at how I managed and am still managing to juggle everything, but when you love what you do, you persevere and find a way to balance it all.”
She adds, “So yes, you have to sacrifice a lot if you want to grow your career without compromising on being a good and caring mother to your children. So from this platform I would like to salute all mothers out there, doing their best to juggle life’s responsibilities. You deserve a round of applause!”