HashMove CEO: Saudi, UAE have potential to become Silicon Valleys of the world

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In the 1990s, Sarfaraz Alam was like any college-going, cricket-loving youngster in Karachi, Pakistan.

Taking time off his studies, he happily helped his father’s glass business despite the collateral damage, which meant blood dripping from his palms every time he would help deliver windowpane.

“The environment was harsh. But the hardships, combined with courage and diligence, made me dream of standing out spectacularly in front of the whole world,” he says without batting an eyelid about those formative days.

Alam has come a long way from those years of shedding sweat – and blood – for years. Today, he is a serial tech-innovator and owns two major technology companies.

But transport him back to the late 1990s and Alam will narrate tales of how, despite the surge, IT seemed non-existent in his part of the world.

“I would watch several documentaries and observe several people doing phenomenally in the US and UK. And then, during the Y2K era a lot of people made a lot of money,” he says.

That made him think that good business is not where you require a lot of raw material but one in which products and services can be applied at a mass level.

“So I decided to do something absolutely non-existent in our part of the world,” he says.

Sarfaraz started his digital journey by establishing a technology company in the UK, which eventually moved to the UAE. He first studied IT Infrastructure in UK and then launched Texpo, which he then brought to Dubai in 2001.

According to Alam, Dubai was then “gaining traction and becoming one of the most amazing parts of the world”.

Within years, Texpo established itself as a reliable name in data center and technology solutions across the region, working for government sectors in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

In the UAE, Texpo has worked on major projects with government entities such as RTA, Awqaf, Dubai Police, TRA, Smart Government Dubai, Dubai Customs and Yahsat Satellite Ground Station.

Sarfaraz started his digital journey by establishing a technology company in the UK, which eventually moved to the UAE. (Supplied)
Sarfaraz started his digital journey by establishing a technology company in the UK, which eventually moved to the UAE. (Supplied)

Disrupting logistics

Even as Texpo charts its next phase of growth, Alam has embarked on an even more ambitious project. He is piloting what he claims to be the biggest digital disruption in the logistics industry.

Named HashMove, the project promises to usher in a one-stop-shop for logistics providers and consumers. Alam calls it “Uberization of logistics”. According to him, every company’s productivity depends on its logistical infrastructure.

“Unfortunately these days the logistics business around the world are working in complete silos – the left hand doesn’t know the right hand and vice versa-whether it’s the shipping lines, packaging, movers, logistics, freight forwarders, trucking – everything is in chaos,” he says.

Digital transformation

Alam believes that digital transformation has changed the dynamics of businesses completely and Uber, Careem, Air BnB are best examples of disruptions in the real world.

“So if one can use technology to hire cabs, why can’t we apply it to logistics? And that’s the initiative we’ve taken,” says Alam. HashMove is scheduled to launch in January next year.

Alam is confident that with the unique experience of working on IT infrastructure and citizen-centric portals for various governments, his team will eventually make HashMove the next big disruption in the logistics industry.

“It’s about time organizations that are part of logistics business understand the underlying strength and potential of digitization,” he says.

Digital powerhouses

Alam believes this region – especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE – has the potential to emerge as the next digital powerhouses.

“I totally believe Saudi Arabia will be the next powerhouse, along with the UAE in terms of technological advancement. Whatever this region has achieved and how dynamic it appears to the rest of the world is because of the leadership and vision here,” he says.

According to him, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision for Dubai and the UAE is phenomenal. “When I look deep, it makes me realize that his keen eye for the region is so clever and good and this is why this place is what it is”, he says.

“The same applies to Saudi Arabia. If they carry on with their vision, these two combined could make it the next Silicon Valley of the world,” says Alam.

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