I AM CHIRAG SABHNANI
your luxury asset advisor, and this is my life story.
Money is valued best by two kinds of people, those who have none and those who have plenty. I am fortunate to be on side of plenty and my life has been blessed by this destiny.
I know Dubai like the back of my hand because I was here much before progress turned this arid desert into an oasis of luxury. I was born here in 1987 and I went to school here and even did my higher studies here. I fell in love here and my son was born here. I am what you would call – A Total Dubaiya. I am crazy about Dubai and I want to make you appreciate not just the glamour of Dubai but also feel the heartbeat of this city that over 2.4 million foreigners call home.
Through my story, I want to present to you the charm of Dubai and win the trust to be your preferred real estate investment guide. Dubai is a paradise for those looking for a vacation home. It is a retreat for your worldly retirement. It is panacea for your wrinkles of worry. And most importantly, an ideal choice for your real estate investment.
I invite you to read a little more about me.
I started working very early in my life and this was not for money but from the freedom it bestowed. My first income, at the age of 16, was from distributing promotional flyers for National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT -India) that had just opened a computer training institute in Dubai.
Having money in your pocket meant you could spend it without accountability. In my teens my dad bribed me with 10 Dh/hour to spend at the shop and though it was good money, it was not as much fun as earning the same as a GITEX promoter. So enthusiastic was I as a promoter, that by the time I turned 20, I was being paid 115 Dh/hour. What excited me was not just the money at the end of the shift, but the opportunity to interact with different kinds of people who taught me lessons I would never learn elsewhere. I learned the art of conversation, negotiation and closing which till date hold me in good stead.
In 2007, I formally joined my father’s garment trading business in Murshid Bazar. My dad had just turned 60 and at that age he took me to China for sourcing our products. We would make more than 4 trips a year to stock for each of the seasons – Autumn, Spring, Summer and Winter. I understood not just the style, but also the colours and material for each of the seasons. Going to China with my dad taught me many things. I did learn commerce, but it came packaged with lessons in humility, honesty, and hard work. My dad became my teacher, and I was an honourable student absorbing his experience and wisdom.
From comfortable beds in 5-star hotels we would set out to small factories with overflowing toilets. It did not matter how much money we had in our pocket, what mattered were the deals we could negotiate. We were dealing with a foreign culture where relationships can be lost in translation and had no value beyond what you purchased. My China days laid the foundation of the values that I cherish in my current avatar.
Our family business was slacking when I joined by dad. I helped to grow the business back to its original glory by bringing in elite branding and high fashion merchandise. I made it easier for buyers to retail my products. My dad gradually withdrew from the business giving me full responsibility, but this was not to be my last stop in life.
Real Estate Beckons
I became a realtor much before I became a garment trader. It was during my stint in a Real Estate Development company that my bosses discovered by knack and knowledge for realty. I was totally clued into the transformation Dubai was going through. I knew the lay of the land; I knew the minds of the rulers, and the machinations of the decision makers. I institutively knew what would sell and what would perish.
As an intern I spent a lot of time doing work that help me understand how real estate investment works. I carried out feasibility studies, did mystery shopping, gathered market intelligence, studied investment flows, understood banking and mortgage policies. I was raised in an affluent family and had relatives with considerable wealth and sizeable assets, so it is fair to say that I was already attuned to affluence and investments. My bosses recognized these traits and were planning to make me an offer to start a real estate brokerage. I had to say no as it was time to join my father’s garment business.
Union Square House Real Estate is a leading real estate brokerage in Dubai. It figures in the list of Top 10 partners for many reputed developers in the region including Emaar, Nakheel, Meraas, to name a few. The company, founded in 2009, has strong leaders, genuine customer affinity, and an energetic team and despite the seismic economic turmoil.
In 2016 I joined the board of the company to propel its growth in luxury realty and since then have focused my expertise and energy in building the investment portfolios of high-networth clients. My garment business is delegated to trusted relatives requiring only a weekly supervision.
The Luxury Realtor
A professional luxury realtor knows the premium property deeper than the prospectus. There is an abundance of investment and there is an equal abundance of premium property, but a professional luxury realtor is still a rarity.
A luxury realtor must have an intimate knowledge of the land and an understanding of the intrinsic value of the property to assist a client to make a secured and authentic investment. A good realtor understands the motivations of the investor and the heritage of wealth. And this is what I aspire to be.
The Youth of Success
I am experiencing the youth of success. Born in 1987, I have just started to bloom. My best days are yet to dawn. I have, in a short span of my life, assembled a host of experiences, connections, expertise, and passion, that I will put to work for the people that put their trust in me.
I am Chirag Sabhnani. Your Luxury Realtor. Your Premium Assets Advisor.
My early days
My story begins in the twin city of Secunderabad and Hyderabad where my father Ashok was born. He had just completed his Bachelor’s degree in Physics when the lure of the orient took him to Singapore and then to Hongkong. After working as an apprentice for his relatives for a couple of years destiny brought him to the listless shores of Dubai.
When he started out on his own, his initial foray was in supplies of matchsticks and tissue paper but soon enough he picked up the threads of the garment business and within a span of few years was having his own shop in Murshid Bazar. His hard work and honesty led to a couple of more shops and a presence in the Dubai Textile City.
I was in born in 1987, when my father was 40 years old and a father of three daughters. As I was the late and last child my father, to me, was an authoritative figure to be obeyed and respected. My mother Komal, as her name suggests was soft and caring, and despite having raised three girls was still enthusiastic about here late child. I don’t remember being pampered for being a son, but I definitely ran the risk of developing feminine habits on account of three sisters.
My eldest brother-in-law Gautam Talreja was the man about the house and took it upon himself to take me out of my mother’s shadow. Gautam was the one who taught me how to ride a bicycle. My first taxi ride was also with him and so were many firsts that a young boy would experience growing up. He was like a father-friend to me and has been an endearing influence in my early days.
I grew up with three elder sisters and the gap between me and my eldest sister was over 10 years. My eldest sister Asha lives in Austin Texas and is married to my fatherly-friend Gautam Talreja who is an IT engineer and currently with Apple. My sister works for an Oil & Gas company in the field of finance.
My middle sister Yuvika is married to Mukesh Bhojwani and they live in Abu Dhabi. Anisha, my youngest sister lives in Mumbai and her husband Suraj Bajaj owns the Once Upon a Dine restaurant in Khar, Mumbai. Anisha and I are 18 months-apart, and like close siblings are constantly quibbling even today. Our love-hate relationship has persevered even though we live a sea apart. All three of my sisters married the man they loved and, today, are well settled with a full household teeming with kids.
I studied at St. Mary’s under the watchful eye of Catholic Nuns and teachers that I am still in touch with. Life’s first lessons including that of responsible drinking were learned in the co-ed school where the only mixing with the opposite sex was during the Religion Studies. I was a shy chubby boy growing up with Indians and Arabs of other nationalities. I hardly took any interest in girls and yet managed to find my life partner and married her after a courtship lasting 7 years.
I could have been an engineer at Microsoft had I continued pursuing my interest in computers after getting my MCSE certificates, but destiny had another door already opened for me. Since I was to inherit my father’s garment trading business, it made better sense to pursue an education in business rather than computer science. In deference to my father’s wish to take over the family business and my mother’s fear that her only son would be lost in the western wilderness, I dropped plans to study abroad. I settled for the American College in Dubai to get my Bachelor’s in Finance, which in hindsight not only helped me with my garment business but also in my new avatar as a Luxury Realtor. I finished the 3-year degree in 2.5 years by taking classes during the summer break. I was always in a race against time to get ahead of myself. I wanted to get ready for my real calling as soon as possible.
Cupid Strikes Deep
She walked through the door and into my heart. A skinny girl with oversized spectacles stepped down from her Landcruiser and into my life. I was sitting with friends in the recently opened Starbucks in Al Mussala Tower, which is just a stone’s throw away from the Al Rais building on Mankhool Road, where I still live. I looked away the first time I locked eyes with Ekta, and the first thought that sprung in my mind was that she was the type I could take to my mom and say I want to marry her. Cupid had struck deep and even at the raw age of sixteen I had made up my mind.
Unknown to me she was already going steady with another guy from our friend-circle, but this did not deter me in the least. Help came to me in the form of a girl who secretly admired me and was a good friend of Ekta. She made the supreme sacrifice of bring us together.
Ekta’s brother, and my now best friend, Deepak Khushalani also turned approver after checking me out and giving us the green signal to hang out together. It took a little convincing to get her parents that it was alright for their daughter to find her own mate, but after 7 years of dating, in November 2011, we tied the knot at a destination wedding in Goa. It was a wedding befitting a king’s son, and guests still remember the show put up by celebrity singers Vishal and Shekhar.
A Son is Born
Our son Garv was born in May 2017. I had resolved to be a father at 30 and this had come true. I love being a father and there is never a dull moment when we are together. The week keeps me busy so I devote my Friday mornings to him. We go biking, we go and watch the waves, we have long luxurious breakfasts and sometimes just do nothing, spending time together. I am his Alladin’s Lamp (Chirag). He just has to rub me to make any wish come true.
My family is my universe. I am finding the work-life balance to play fully the role of a spouse, a son, and a brother. For my son, I want to be a friend, a partner-in-crime, a tutor, a mentor and all that my time can permit.