We travel to the Gulf today and the island kingdom of Bahrain where we meet the subject of today’s Sovereign Story. Anas Al Adawi (42) is the Sales Director in the Bahrain office. He is also responsible for managing Sovereign’s separate business hub that opened its doors in January 2023. A Syrian national, Anas’ story is an absorbing one.
Born in Kuwait, and raised between his country of birth and Syria, Anas is part of a well-known family with roots dating back centuries. He is the eldest of five children and studied at Damascus University. Expecting him to have completed a financial degree or similar, we were surprised to learn that in fact he chose to study English Literature. He cites Shakespeare, Dickens, Defoe’s Moll Flanders and Golding’s Lord of the Flies as just some of his selected texts. Arabic is his mother tongue and his perfect English was essentially self-taught. He tells of the early days when he used to watch movies and write out song lyrics to master the idioms.
We realised we were about to hear a fascinating Sovereign Story. Leaving Damascus for Bahrain in 2006, he started work “in retail”. Expecting to learn that he chose a small shop somewhere in downtown Manama, again we were in for a surprise: “Do you know Villeroy & Boch?” he asked. “Well that’s where I worked at the beginning.”
Anas went on to explain that next door to the upmarket store was an investor business centre. Ever curious, he observed the comings and goings particularly the smartly dressed people who visited. Harbouring long held ambitions to move into the business sector, he joined one of Sovereign’s competitors to learn the ropes for a year from May 2012.
During his time in this new role, Anas got to know Sovereign and became friends with Managing Partner Nabil Khoury. By now a very regular visitor himself to the investor centre, he persuaded Nabil that Sovereign had to hire a PRO (Public Relations Officer). This role involves dealing with the processing of documents acting as the link between clients and various government agencies. In addition, Anas adds, much more besides. Anas succeeded in his quest joining Sovereign in August 2013 thus he has recently celebrated his tenth anniversary with the Group. He recalls signing up his first client before he started officially.
Rapidly learning, Anas went from PRO to Business Development to Sales Manager, before Sovereign promoted him to Sales Director in September 2022. Having gained so much knowledge over the past decade with Sovereign, he is able to steer a client from the outset to completing the set up of a Bahrain business. There are plans to expand the office and he is well placed to ensure potential clients receive the best possible, and fully informed, advice on doing business in the Kingdom and the wider region.
Apart from the consultancy business, Anas explained Sovereign’s thinking behind the new business hub concept. The commercial space is sufficiently large for both Sovereign’s consultancy business as well as clients who can rent space as required. He told us that some of them rent space on a more or less permanent basis whilst others use the various rooms on an ad hoc basis. Clients are able to meet, study and generally use just enough office space to meet their specific needs.
Married to Rima since 2018, the couple have two sons. Aram was born in October 2020 and a much more recent arrival is Ayan in September 2023. Anas explained that Rima, who is also Syrian but raised in Saudi Arabia, was living in Khobar City. As do many Saudis, both residents and expats, she used to cross the 25 km (15.5 miles) long King Fahd Causeway that links the two kingdoms for social events in Bahrain. During one of these visits, she was introduced to Anas. As he told us, smiling, “cross a causeway, find a husband”. These days, Anas and his family are regular visitors back to Khobar where they spend time with “the in-laws”.
Now a devoted family man, Anas explains that his youthful passion for fast cars has had to take a back seat, at least for now. He is still the proud owner of a Nissan 370Z, the manufacturer’s premier sports car. He used to enjoy tearing round Bahrain’s famous F1 circuit but is somewhat more restricted these days as family responsibilities demand. The family use a “standard 4×4” to get about. He smiles when he relates that he has had to resort to “drifting on his PlayStation”. Not quite the same thing, we thought – but of course, the family must come first.
A keen footballer, Anas still plays when he finds the time. He is also determined to take up padel soon and as with every other challenge he has taken on, he will no doubt become proficient at that new sport in short order.
It was a real pleasure speaking to Anas learning about life in Bahrain particularly his close links to Saudi as it becomes ever more strategically important. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us; best wishes to the family and we hope that baby Ayan is not keeping you awake at night.