ROOFI KAMAL
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By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Aug 16 - 22, 2004
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ROOFI KAMAL is a world-class watch designer and remained associated with Swisstar, a Swiss watch company for over 16 years. He is actually based in Dubai and currently working as the watch designer as well as market manager of Jasina Trading (LLC) which is the producer of Swiss watches based on Louis Arden technology. Roofi who recently arrived Pakistan on a business plus personal visit shared his interesting experiences with PAGE. Associated with top class international watch companies, Roofi has a wide exposure because of extensive traveling particularly in the Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Mascat, Iran and other countries in connection with his professional obligations.

PAGE: What are the current trends in watch manufacturing and what is new to attract the customers?

ROOFI: Like other sectors, research and development efforts are always carried out in the watch-manufacturing sector as well. Despite the fact that a number of other countries have jumped into the area of watch manufacturing at a much cheaper price, yet the value of Swiss watches still remain intact because they are reliable and long lasting as compared to other type of sub-standard watches being produced by others.

The current trend in quality watches is scratch proof watches in both case and the glass of the watch remain scratch free in case of an accident or other eventuality.

PAGE: Do your company has any plan to invest in Pakistan to produce quality watches in this country?

ROOFI: Pakistan as well as other countries including India is a huge market for watch manufacturers. Obviously being my homeland Pakistan is on top of the priority for investment. Imtiaz Ahmed, another Pakistani who is the Managing Director of my company has chalked out an extensive marketing plan for Pakistan through electronic and print media. Initially, it will be a market assessment plan and if the response was positive, this would naturally attract the company to invest in Pakistan.

PAGE: Pakistan is flooded with cheap smuggled watches selling even at a price of Rs100. These watches are being sold under the fake name of much popular brand of quality watches. These watches generally go out of order within 3-4 months, yet they attract a large crowd of the customers from poor income strata. How, the quality watch producer can combat the onslaught of these cheap and poor quality watches.

ROOFI: It is the human nature to be attracted by the lower price, yet the survival is always for the quality at the end of the day. This outburst of cheap and poor quality watches would have to subside one day, as the experience is the greatest teacher. However, the genuine watch producers were equally responsible in the promotion of piracy of the quality watches because the prices of the quality watches always remain on the higher side without considering the purchasing power of the customers. There is a need for production of low cost but quality watches, which would help eliminating the mafia of fake producers of the watches especially in the developing and under developed countries.

PAGE: There was a time when people use to wear watches as a fashion besides using it as a time machine, but things are changed and time indicators are available everywhere. Time indicating facilities are provided in telephones, mobile phones, computers, fountain pen, lighters calculators and a score of things used in the modern living. Obviously, such a phenomenal growth of time indicators must have eroded the profitability because of the shrinking market. How do you see the future of this industry?

 

 

ROOFI: You are right to some extent. The growth of time indicators in different equipment may have eroded the demand for watches. However, despite all these factors, the importance of the watch cannot be ignored because one cannot take along all these equipment because they are not handy like a wristwatch. Despite all said and done, the fact remain that watch has become a habit of the mankind because its centuries old use. Hence its utility significant can never be under estimated irrespective to the spread of time telling facilities. Besides time indicating, the watches in whatever form they might be have become an essential part of the fashion world also. While these are also used as a decoration pieces as well, a large segment of the economy is associated with this business and the innovative ideas, research, and development efforts would not easily give up the industry.

PAGE: You are working in Dubai for the last 16 years and have an opportunity to travel frequently in other Arab countries. What would you suggest for young job seekers in the Arab world.

ROOFI: It's a wonderful question you have asked. Infact, our Pakistani youngsters are second to non in respect of intelligence, knowledge, they are energetic and hardworking and honest as well. Despite all these quality they could not compete with the stuff coming in the Arab world from India, Bangladesh, and other Far Eastern countries. According to my analysis, there is only factor, which makes Pakistani youngsters unpopular in the Arab world and that is their psyche of being arrogant, short tempered, and repulsive attitude. I am not an educationist yet in my humble opinion that besides imparting educating and training, it is also responsibility of the institutions besides the parents to develop the sense in the younger generation to respect the reasoning, tolerance and patience which is generally missing in our youngsters.