Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Palace Furniture

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Palace Furniture

Article excerpt


The history Palace Furniture began in the early 1960s. In 1962, Saeed A1 Shamsi, a carpenter from Yemen, migrated with his family to what was known at that time as Trucial States - a group of sheikhdoms on the coast of the Persian Gulf under the British protectorate. Saeed's family at that time consisted of his wife Fatima and his first-born son, Ahmed. Searching for work, Saeed eventually settled in Abu Dhabi - at the time, still a small town located on an island off the coast of the Persian Gulf. In 1950s, oil was discovered in the area and in 1962 the first crude oil export was shipped out of Abu Dhabi. By early 1960s Abu Dhabi emerged as a rapidly developing oil town, attracting migrant workers from the area as well as from Asia, Europe and North America. In Abu Dhabi, Saeed opened a small woodworking shop, where he produced and sold various wooden items, such as boxes for storing dates, chests, well covers, benches, etc. As the emirate of Abu Dhabi grew so too did Saeed's business. By late 1960s Saeed had three carpenters from India working for him. Saeed was very happy with his employees and treated them like family: they lived and dined in an extension attached to the main part of Saeed's own house. With his own hands now freed by his employees, Saeed concentrated on daily management of the shop and finding new clients. The business kept growing and Saeed took pride in being able to earn a comfortable living for his family which now comprised his wife Fatima, his oldest child and only son Ahmed, and three daughters: Hind, Mediayh, and Mariam.


Starting in the mid 1970s, .Ahmed, Saeed's oldest son, began assisting his father in the shop. Over time, Ahmed took a more active role in his father's business, replacing him in the shop when Saeed had to attend for personal or business matters in town. Saeed took comfort in the thought that .Ahmed would soon become a good replacement for him in the family business. Sometime in the late 1970s, Saeed decided to transfer the full responsibility of running the shop to Ahmed. Having spent most of his life in the harsh desert climate, Saeed began to develop health problems. Moreover, Saeed and his wife Fatima were recently blessed with their second son, Yousif. Yousif was born when .Ahmed was already twenty-one years old. Because of these new developments in his life, Saeed soon decided to retire so as to have more time to spend with his family. Ahmed now assumed the full responsibility of running the shop and, thus, supporting his family. In the same year, .Ahmed got married and had his first child.

Driven partially by ambition and partially by the need to support his growing family, Ahmed began to seek opportunities to grow his father's business. An opportunity emerged soon. With the growth of oil exports out of the United Arab Emirates, the standard of living of a formerly nomadic population had improved and became more settled. Beach huts woven from palm leaves and desert tents made from camel wool were being replaced with modem, spacious, air-conditioned houses that now required furniture. Ahmed quickly took advantage of this opportunity by hiring additional staff with knowledge in furniture design and production from nearby India. By the early 1980s, Ahmed's company was producing a variety of home furniture in accordance with the tastes of an increasingly well-off Emirati population.

Eventually, local traders began importing furniture from nearby India and Pakistan as well as some European countries. Absence of any significant tariffs, a cornerstone of economic development of the UAE at that time, made this business quickly pofitable. But the importers were of little threat to .Ahmed's company. Very early in his career .Ahmed realized that the key to business success was establishing and maintaining good personal relationships with clients. .Ahmed, who inherited his father's friendly and outgoing personality, was very good at establishing personal relationships with clients, listening to their needs and making sure they got the exact furniture that they wanted. …

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