Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Coming Back Home

After three decades of running a successful business group in Dubai, Abdul Hasan is now planning to invest Rs 3000 crore over the next few years in Kerala. A green mall near Maradu is completed 

Photo of Abdul Hasan by Albin Mathew 

By Shevlin Sebastian

One day, a couple of years ago, Abdul Lahir Hasan, the chairman of the Dubai-based Kool Home Builders (KHB) group of companies was in a reflective mood. He had spent 30 years in Dubai, running construction as well as educational institutions, and now felt the urge to return to Kerala. “I was reaching reaching retirement age,” says the 59-year-old, while on a recent visit to Kochi. “I wanted to come back to my motherland. My children and grandchildren have to live here.”

Hasan decided that he would start investing in Kerala. Luckily, over the years, he had built up a land bank in Kochi: at Manjally, Pookattupady, and, at Maradu, on National Highway 47, beside the Hotel Wyte Fort.

And it is here, through his KHB that he has finished building the four-storey 'Platynum Mall', with a hotel behind it.

The 'Platynum' is a semi-conventional mall. There will be retail shops as well as office areas. But Hasan has been very particular about making it a green building. “That means, the building should be eco-friendly, sustainable, and energy-efficient,” says KM Vincent, President, KHB. “For example, we have used aerated bricks. While manufacturing them, air has been added on as a component. So, the brick is not heat conductive. However, it is three times the cost of an ordinary block. But, in the long run, this will reduce energy consumption.”

The company has also used 100% green certified building materials such as performance glass, roof thermal insulation, energy-efficient equipments, as well as LED lamps throughout the building. It has also set up a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant, apart from a 25 lakh litre rainwater harvesting system. As a result, they have overshot the budget by Rs 12 crore, but are now eligible for the prestigious Indian Green Building Council – Platinum Certification.

Hasan has carefully chosen the location of Maradu. “The catchment area is Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Aroor, Thopumpady, and Thevara,” he says.

As for the 136-room hotel behind, it is managed by the New Delhi-based Starlit Suites and Luxury Resorts. They get clients from IT companies, financial institutions, as well as private and public sector banks. Recently, the 40-member crew of the Hindi film, 'Chef', which stars Saif Ali Khan, stayed there. “We also get a lot of health tourists,” says Hasan.

Meanwhile, when asked whether he faced labour problems, Hasan says, diplomatically, “There were a few hiccups, in the beginning, which gave me sleepless nights, but we managed to overcome them.”

Hasan has plans, too, to start an international school, as well as a 1000-unit township on the Seaport-Airport Road, with a health mall next to it, apart from a cinema multiplex. “I am planning to invest Rs 3000 over the next five years,” he says.

And he is equally invested heavily in Dubai, where, at this moment, he has 400 million dirhams worth of contracts to be fulfilled.

Asked the secret of his success, the civil engineer says, “Hard work, perseverance, dedication and luck also. Luck is God's blessings. You need that.”

But, importantly, Hasan places a premium on honesty. “When you are transparent, maintain high quality of materials, and keep your word, it will attract clients, suppliers and employees. To be a successful builder or contractor, honesty is a must. I think this is the major reason for my success.” 

Hasan is helped by his wife, Saira Kamal, Director, KHB, and his two sons, Nabil Hasan Lahir, 34, and Dr Mohamed Kamal Lahir, 30. “I feel excited to come back,” he says. “And I would like to contribute my bit to Kerala's economy.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram) 

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