“Business – you tend to learn, that having a great idea and understanding, it’s not simply just that, it’s also the legal aspects of everything.”

~Oweis Zahran

As a dynamic entrepreneur in the automotive industry, Oweis Zahran is the force behind launching innovative solutions in this sector in the Middle East. Born and educated in the USA, Oweis has a strong affinity to this region since his father set up businesses in the UAE under MZ Holdings in the early 90s. The Holding company’s 16 subsidiaries, in three continents, are primarily in the field of equipment supply, industrial manufacturing, automotive R&D, oil and gas as well as construction.

Before he joined University of Maryland as a business undergrad, Oweis was being mentored by his father and unlike other teenagers he was involved in major international business deals. This hands-on experience prepared him for a leadership role, which helped in the evolution and expansion of MZ Holdings’ B2C business. From setting up the largest auto remanufacturing unit in the UAE and expanding it to seven countries, to developing exclusive auto solutions with international celebrities, to launching a joint venture with the Government of Sharjah, Oweis, at the age of 28, manages three of its companies that include OWS Auto, Tatra Middle East and Transaxle ME.

As a serial entrepreneur, Oweis established Rafid Automotive Solutions in 2017 as a joint venture between Sharjah Asset Management and OWS Auto. Today Rafid operates diverse services that includes an accident reporting app, fleet of electric cars and provides vehicle emission testing to quick service and parts supply and more. In 2017, Oweis Zahran also launched Voltron Motors in the UAE and the US with Hollywood actor Tyrese Gibson, mostly known for his roles in The Fast and The Furious franchise. Customizing cars for corporates or individuals, Voltron Motors’ clientele range from Hollywood celebrities to corporate fleets to high profile people in the Middle East.

Oweis’s philanthropic endeavors match his business ambitions. The company runs a small yet significant operation of providing clean drinking water to families in Nigeria and Ghana. Established in 2015, with the collaboration of Nigerian ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Mohammed Gello, Oweis along with his brothers, have since established six drilling rigs in Africa.

Enjoy the show!

To be posted on October 2, 2019

Show Notes:

  • 01:15 – What it was like being born and raised in Brooklyn as an African American.

  • 06:30 – His father’s decision to move the family to the Middle East to pursue his entrepreneurial career.

  • 07:30 – The FMS, Foreign Military Sales business of his father’s big initial success

  • 08:15 – Moving from Dubai back to the US for university

  • 10:30 – On getting his GED.

  • 12:30 – Learning from real life projects and case studies at work.

  • 13:00 – Taking Harvard Online Business school programs to further his own learning.

  • 13:45 – The mentorship of his father and how it played a role in shaping his own entrepreneurial journey.

  • 15:30 – Setting up OWS Automotive with his brothers.

  • 18:00 – Shadowing his father, including be his personal driver.

  • 21:45 – Joint venture with Sharjah Government

  • 27:45 – The story behind Tyrese Gibson and Voltron Motors

  • 32:00 – His views on the luxury car market in the UAE

  • 34:30 – Philanthropic work, clean drinking projects in West Africa

  • 38:45 – Turning off his phone for the weekend and realizing you won’t really mis out on anything.

  • 42:00 – The importance of being healthy and working out

  • 44:15 – His message on a billboard, “train hard, fight easy”

  • 46:30 – Tyrese’s Book, Getting out of my own head

  • 47:30 – His hobby of browsing the internet and researching what’s out there

  • 48:45 – UAE’s role and opportunity to extend its arm to support and help other emerging markets.

  • 52:30 – His message to all entrepreneurs out there.

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