The apparent disappearance of a prominent jeweller, whose UAE-headquartered company has extensive operations throughout the Gulf states and India, has sent shock waves among the expatriate business community.
According to reports in the Dubai media, the businessman owes banks huge loans, estimated by a source to amount to QR550mn. The chain also operates three outlets in Doha.
Unconfirmed reports said some of the company’s showrooms in the region have been running low on stocks for several months.
Though local entrepreneurs are by and large maintaining silence on the issue, some of them blamed the banks for advancing loans without conducting a proper study of the market. The bullion market has been shaky and unpredictable for more than a year.
One of them said some banks have extended liberal loans to businesses without proper guarantees or collateral. “This is being done apparently in their bid to reach the so-called lending targets.”
A senior official of an Asian business forum in Qatar felt banks need to be more realistic about their assessment of business prospects across the region. He said the region’s bullion market had more players than it could accommodate.
The entrepreneur, a gold merchant, said many retailers in the region have taken loans which are much beyond their known needs and capacities.
Following the businessman’s reported disappearance, industry sources have expressed surprise at how a company that was touted to be a `zero-debt’ enterprise had such huge loans outstanding against it. What was apparently a formidable jewellery group, having a strong regional presence, has all of a sudden been reported to be in dire straits.
Unconfirmed reports said the money borrowed by the jewellery group has been invested in the real estate market in India.
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