As a third-generation member of the Seddiqi family, Hind Abdul Hamied Seddiqi’s roots are deeply embedded in the Dubai-based company. The watch enthusiast holds the position of Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Seddiqi Holding, where she has been working hard to ensure that the UAE is recognised in the watch industry on a global scale.
A family-run business for generations, Seddiqi Holding, has been a leader in its field for over 60 years after beginning as just one office in Dubai and subsequently growing into a pioneering company that represents more than 60 luxury watch and jewellery brands across the Middle East. In her position, Hind is responsible for leading the integrated marketing strategies across Seddiqi Holding, as well as internal and external communication tactics and plans. She also oversees the Customer Experience (CX) communications for all business units, including Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons and Seddiqi Properties. She is an active member of the Seddiqi Holding Executive Committee where she contributes to the professional development and interests of department heads, as well as the progress of the various business units.
Hind’s passion and expertise led to the founding of Dubai Watch Week in 2015. This November, the region’s largest watch fair will return to the city as a physical event for the first time since 2019, inviting local and international CEOs, watchmakers, collectors, press and clients to discover the best of horology in the Middle East. With Seddiqi’s expansive portfolio, the annual Dubai Watch Week event brings together many of the industry’s leading brands, showcasing novelties and innovations, and providing an educational platform for the purpose of sharing knowledge, building connections, and celebrating watchmaking. As this year’s edition prepares to kick off in November, we discuss with Hind Seddiqi the importance of this platform and the future of the watch industry in the UAE.
We are approaching the latest edition of Dubai Watch Week – what can we expect to see from this year’s event and how has it evolved for this edition?
Dubai Watch Week 2021 will be the biggest watch industry event since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. We have been receiving positive feedback from everyone looking to attend, both international and local guests. This certainly places the excitement levels quite high amongst our team as well. 2021 is a special year for both Dubai Watch Week and the UAE. Dubai Watch Week is celebrating its 5th anniversary and our beloved UAE is celebrating its Golden Jubilee. We are gearing towards exciting announcements, collaborations, limited editions, and an impressive line-up of speakers across various industries.
How do you think the event has a positive impact on the UAE’s watch clients, brands, collectors etc.?
It is a highly anticipated event amongst watch collectors and enthusiasts both locally and internationally. The core objective of DWW is to share knowledge and build connections in a collaborative and community-driven environment. Therefore, the event is a non-commercial platform-driven purely for educational purposes, one that we continue to learn from as well. We were very successful in 2019 with attracting the youth and the public via the activations we had on-site, so the excitement amongst the public is equally high. We always attribute Dubai Watch Week to being a mini reunion of friends and family. That is the first memorable impact the event always has. Additionally, having easy access to watchmakers, CEO’s and meeting other prominent collectors is what attracts watch enthusiasts to attend the event.
What is your opinion on the watch industry in the UAE currently and where it is heading?
2020 was a challenging year for a lot of industries. However, we saw a rise in interest in watches in our region. We witnessed new clients approaching us, educating themselves on watches and eventually buying timepieces. The demand certainly exists, and we look forward to working alongside them to nurture their interest in the industry.
What do you think consumers are looking for from watches today?
There are different types of consumers. The seasoned collectors have very specific requirements, and this is what really challenges the watchmakers. They seek uniqueness, high quality and innovation. What we are currently witnessing is a new wave, a need for high quality but affordable watches. And a lot of the watchmakers and brands in the industry are starting to respond to this demand.
What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the industry in the region and has it affected the buying behaviour of customers?
We are blessed in the UAE and are truly grateful to our leaders. Due to their wisdom, the country sustained a healthy economic shift, which the citizens and residents have adapted to. The love and respect that we all have for the country also helped in maintaining a healthy economy. The major impact on our industry was the lockdowns in Europe, which put a big strain on an already difficult supply chain process. As the demand in our region grew, we had to adapt to cater to our client’s needs.
Of course, we know there are many market leaders in the industry, but what are some of the smaller or emerging watch brands we should be looking out for?
All the independent brands are worth looking out for. They thrived during the pandemic by continuing production when many other bigger brands had to stop. The fact that they are agile and fast-moving are major factors as to why they succeeded, and why they will continue to leave a mark in the industry.
It’s no secret we are living in a time where only the strongest will survive – what do you think is the secret to maintaining a successful watch brand today?
It is important to stay true to your mission, avoid imitating trends, be agile, and pioneer innovation. I also think listening to everything happening in the industry with an objective ear will help drive your true strategy.
As a leading retailer with the region’s most prominent brands, to what do you tribute the success of Seddiqi Holding?
The passion my grandfather, uncles and father have towards their work. The importance of values like empathy and honesty is something they always make sure we carry with us, no matter how hard the challenges are. It is important to approach all things with pure intentions and focus on the good. These values and life lessons helped us form lasting friendships in our industry and develop mutual respect and trust with our partners. All these elements will yield successful business and personal relationships and will ensure Seddiqi Holding continues to grow for years to come.
Moving on to women’s watches – what do you think women are looking for from timepieces today and how have you seen their tastes evolve over the years?
There are different types of female consumers. Some are classic buyers who are driven by the market trend and not necessarily what they like or appreciate, the trend seekers. But we are also witnessing a rise in an impressive group of women who know exactly what they want and why they want it; the adventurous and avid collector. They appreciate the art and craft behind watchmaking, choose their pieces wisely and have more patience to wait for what they truly want rather than settling for anything they find.
This year the UAE celebrates 50 years – what does this landmark anniversary mean to you?
As a UAE national I am extremely proud of my young country, what has been achieved over the past 50 years and even more excited and proud of the vision they have shared for the next 50 years. People are at the heart of the country’s goals, everything that was done and will be done is for the progress of the people. We are all very lucky to be in the UAE, and the world should watch out for what we have in hand.
What is a fond memory you have of growing up in the UAE?
I am proud to be a UAE National and have a lot of fond memories growing up here. What I think is very special is the truly welcoming spirit the nation possesses.
What is the professional motto that you live by?
I live by one motto that applies to both my personal and professional life: “love for your brother what you love for yourself” and a second motto would be “honesty is the best policy”.
What is something that you would like to do that you haven’t done yet?
Go on a solo mindful trip.
Who is the person that inspires you the most?
I am not inspired by personalities per se. However, actions and mindsets inspire me. The way people tackle and explain situations inspires me. The positive effect people have on others also inspires me.
As a successful businesswoman – what is your secret to maintaining success and motivation in the workplace?
Everyone naturally has ups and downs. What has helped me a lot is mindfulness and taking care of myself first. Meditation, reading, being around good friends and walking are what keeps me going. I am a strong believer that when you are true to yourself, healthy and positive you inspire and motivate without effort.
What do you do on your days off and where is a place you like to travel to when you want to get away?
I enjoy my solitude and spending time alone on the weekends. I love Europe in general, but Italy is one of my favourites to visit anytime I have the opportunity.
Dubai Watch Week will run from 24th to 28th November 2021.