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Standing up to the challenge

Apr 16, 2015
Samer Darwish, founder of Darwish Logistics Syria & DXI Logistics UAE has had more than his fair share of setbacks during 40 years in the logistics and removals industries. Here he tells the story of how despite working in one of the world’s most volatile regions he has built two of the most successful transport companies in the Middle East.

My passion for logistics began when I was a little boy living in Syria in the 1970s.  My uncle, whom I admired very much, was a customs broker in Damascus and it was my close relationship with him that started my enduring love for the logistics and removals industry that has survived for over 40 years.

As a Syrian I dreamed of relocating to the prosperous region of the Gulf to pursue my career, and at the prime of my adult years I did, packing up with me drive, passion and determination. After working hard for two or three years I managed to land a key position in Kuwait’s number one freight forwarding and moving company.  I increased revenues and expanded the company’s operations gaining tremendous support and trust from the shareholders. At that time I felt the sky was the limit and my challenges were over, but as Martin Luther King once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

It was in the summer of August 1990 when things were about to get really challenging.  A friend phoned me at 3am imploring me to pack my things and leave immediately as the Iraqi army was invading Kuwait and an attack was imminent. At first I laughed and said “that’s absurd”, but as we all now know this was no practical joke.

I was at a crossroads: should I stay and risk the lives of myself and my family for the sake of my career, or abandon everything I’d worked for and retreat to a safe place? The choice was obvious and after a hasty family meeting we left for Damascus, Syria - back to where my dreams had begun.

I was a father of two and desperate to provide for my family. I managed to find an entry-level job at Nazha Freight Services, a freight forwarding and removals company at a very low salary. Despite being criticized by many, I blocked the voices from my mind and clung to the belief that my glass was still half-full and not half-empty.  I reasoned that Syria was an under developed country with limited know-how and capabilities, but with a strategic geographic location within the Levant region.  It was a great opportunity to shine and compete with other firms and individuals.

After 10 more years of hard work my ambition took me to a whole new level of achievements.  I was able to buy out the company and form what is now Darwish Logistics.  I expanded its services and opened a presence in the UAE, and joined the most prestigious trade associations and networks in the industry.

But the challenge and hard work didn’t end there and this wasn’t to be the happy ever after story of my career and business.  At the peak of Darwish Logistics’ development and reputation came the Arab spring and the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2012.

Again I found myself relocating as a result of war from a developing country to the UAE, a highly dynamic and competitive market particularly within the logistics business.

This time our reputation and the support from all our logistics partners lessened the burden I’d had to carry in the past when starting from scratch. Today, I know that to succeed all you take with you is the lessons learned from the hardships you face and the sweetness you experience from your own accomplishments. Never give up, it’s not over until your passion and ambitions are too.

Till the next chapter.

Samer Darwish


Photo: Samer Darwish

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