Born on the west bank of the River Jordan in Palestine, Marwan Koukash lived on a farm with his family. When the farm was bombed by the Israeli military, the family crossed to Jordan before settling into Kuwait.
“When people use the word impossible, it means they want to avoid all the hard work that goes into the possible” – Marwan Koukash
Education was Marwan’s way out of poverty and started his life in London at aged 17. He came to London to study English and didn’t speak a word of the language. He moved up to Liverpool to study his A-levels and Degree and completely fell in love with the city. He made the North West his home and was never seduced to move back to the bustling life of London. Liverpool was hugely different from the conservative society in Kuwait and he felt so welcomed by Liverpool’s friendliness. Marwan Koukash completed his PHD and started to lecture in Electronic engineering at The University of Liverpool.
It comes as no surprise that Marwan has very little free time for himself. Just as ONPAR were catching up with the hugely successful entrepreneur he was preparing for his flight to Dubai, where his main company is the largest in the world in the field of oil and gas.
Spending lots of time in Dubai has lead Marwan down the property path out there too, so many a flight back and forth take up a lot of his time. Here in the UK, the north-west, Marwan has developed a Doubletree by Hilton hotel in the heart of Liverpool.
The hotel is by far way above any Doubletree in the world, and he plans to develop two more, one being in Warrington, plus 200-300 luxury apartments. But why stop there? A Koukash brand of restaurants is being developed, with the menu just being finalised for the Liverpool restaurant.
Featuring Marwan’s favourite Mediterranean dishes, there will be a range of Spanish, Lebanon and Moroccan tagine all under one umbrella. The restaurants will be brought to racing and rugby towns in particular to complement Marwan’s sporting background.
About seven years ago, Marwan was on one of his many flights to Dubai when he was sat next to the CEO of Rugby League side Salford.
“He enticed me to buy the club and bring it out of administration. I am always up for a challenge, even though I didn’t know anything about rugby. Salford were in a mess, they were going into administration, they had no funding, all the players and coaches were leaving, and they were bottom of the league.”
Marwan does what he does best; works hard. He worked incredibly hard to bring the club back up to its successful level and the club had then made a huge comeback reaching Semi-final level. Marwan handed back control and stayed in the background should the club need further help.
Ten years ago, Marwan had no interest in horse racing. At the time, he worked with a bank, and his boss kept inviting him to race days. After saying no several times, he finally caved to see what the fuss was about. He went to Haydock and even though he thoroughly enjoyed his experience, he always wanted more.
Whilst at the races he thought “How much better would this be if we had our own horse to watch race?” Just two weeks later he bought his first horse. He went back to the races with the same group of people and raced the horse. The horse came last in 2009 then went on to win.
You could say 2012 was the pinnacle of Marwan’s career as he bought lots of horses. “I told people I was going to win 100 races. It had never been done before and they told me I didn’t stand a chance. That only gave me more motivation.” Marwan didn’t win 100 races, he won 101.
“When people say I can’t do it, that’s when I know I can. For example, I wanted to buy three buildings and join them together for my hotel. The architect told me I couldn’t. Now I have developed a hotel from three conjoining buildings. When people use the word impossible, it means they want to avoid all the hard work that goes into the possible.”
We wondered whether Marwan still got the same satisfaction from winning as he did with his first-ever horse race win, it turns out he just wants to be the winner, full stop.
“Winning for me is still there. I sulk a lot when I finish 2nd. I love racing at Chester, it’s all about seeing my horses cross the line. Chester races is an amazing experience, I am also now the leading owner at Chester after a 380-year history. I’ve won the Chester cup 4 times, I’m the only person ever to do that! I tell you what’s weird, when I put more than one horse in a race, even if both my horses come 1st and 2nd, I’m still disappointed with the 2nd place even though I won!”
The most amazing moment in racing has to be when Marwan came 1st, 2nd and 3rd in one race. It was at Chester and all of the horses were all Gabrielles, after his Son Gabrielle Koukash.
Marwan doesn’t really have time to participate in any other sports. He did however almost buy Tranmere Rovers Football Club before rugby came into his life.
“Racing and Rugby are more than enough, they take a lot of time. I used to have a box at Anfield and idolised the star players of the 90’s like Michael Owen and John Barnes, now they’re my friends!”
Marwan appeared in Channel 4’s ‘My Millionaire Migrant Boss’ but doesn’t particularly want to go down the TV route. His main focus now is building the Koukash brand of restaurants, develop new hotels and finally enjoy a bit of time to himself!