Saturday, February 04, 2006

Selling Schools

Farook called me up about a year ago and said he had a school in Sharjah. Actually, the owner had mentioned that she wanted to sell a school for US$3,800,000. Someone heard her, so he naturally called up his friend Farook and said the school was for sale for US$4,500,000 cash, and Farook said he was willing to sell it to me at a loss, so I could have it for just US$6,000,000.

'What am I going to do with a school?'

'Open it. Schools make lots of money. My children and I can teach in it. You'll be the director and the owner. You won't have to do anything but make money.'

I declined to purchase and direct the school, so Farook asked me to write an English ad to run in the newspapers, which I did. He wrote the Arabic ad.

Ann replied.

Ann doesn't have US$6,000,000, but she says she knows people who do, and, for a fee, she'll do a feasibility study and promote the school. She says she'd need a contract. Farook said, if she wants the school, hand over the US$6,000,000.

Ann called about a month ago, and said she has someone who is very interested in a school, so I called the original lady, who agreed to meet with us all, myself, Ann, and Farook. Farook offered to drive.

We drove from Dubai to Sharjah, arriving about 15 minutes early for the meeting, only we didn't go to where the meeting was, Farook had another school for Ann, only he wasn't sure where it was. So we drove around in circles, then he called his cousin, who met us and led us to a rather small madrassa covered with Arabic writing (no English). The stucco was falling off. Apparently, the school had been a Pakistani school, but it had fallen on hard times. The Ministry of Education is closing schools which fail to meet certain minimum requirements, and this madrassa was, apparently, in that category.

So Farook had a very good deal for Ann. He wasn't interested in meeting the original lady, he said Ann would be much better off buying the building we were looking at. 'Let's get out and see this school,' he suggested. Then I figured out what was going on.

'Not now. We have a meeting. We're already late.' Ann added, 'I have another meeting in an hour, I don't have time to look at other schools now, I just want to meet the owner.'

So we arrived half an hour late. But this is the Middle East. The owner was almost an hour late. The owner speaks only Arabic, and spoke with Farook while Ann and I talked. Apparently, the owner has a school which she has already leased to a management team, and they don't have to start paying rent until the school opens. After a year, they haven't opened, and the owner is thinking of getting a new management team. Ann is interested.

The owner also has a piece of land, with all the necessary permissions, to build another school, if Ann would like. Ann says, if she gets a contract, she'll find a management team for the school when it's built.

The owner's niece also has her own piece of land with all the necessary permissions, and will be happy to build a school on it. Ann is interested if she gets a contract.

Then we have to dash back to Dubai.

Farook is seeing his expected profit of US$1,500,000 getting farther and farther away. Ann is thinking her commission of 1%, or about US$38,000, is not getting any closer. And I've managed to put together a meeting for reasons which now escape me.


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