Adel Ali doesn't like flying. In fact, he doesn't like travel at all.
Such an attitude is strange enough for a leading business figure in this day and age, but considering Mr Ali's life's work has been to launch and successfully run Air Arabia, the Middle East's first budget airline, it is downright peculiar.
"A lot of people will tell you they are in the aviation business because they love it. I don't love it," says Mr Ali, as he leans back on a sofa in front of a large map adorned with markers pointing out the more than 70 routes Air Arabia flies. "I am in it because it is a business. I treat it like a business."
As if to underline his point, the corridors of Air Arabia's Sharjah headquarters are lined with framed inspirational statements. "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan but also believe," says one.
But how does a man so entwined with the travel industry develop such a dislike of the very business that has made him a success?
"I do my work until I reach where I'm going and when it gets to night I sleep. That's the only way I deal with the impact of flying," he says.
Mr Ali's approach is perhaps a reflection of the tough conditions he has faced since launching Air Arabia in 2003. In a good year, the aviation industry survives on wafer-thin margins.
But those margins have become even thinner in recent years through an unrelenting series of events.
First came the soaring jet fuel prices during the first half of 2008, then the lingering pain of the global financial crisis. Airlines were also buffeted by the unrest of the Arab Spring, which closed some airports and helped to send fuel prices soaring again. And there have been disruptions caused by volcanic eruptions and icy weather.
Mr Ali battles such headwinds on a daily basis.
"I have all sorts of things brought to me," he says. "Sometimes we need to decide whether it's the right airport to go to or not - is it a safe airport or not? You have to make those decisions with the company's reputation and people's lives in mind. The harder it is, maybe the more rewarding the financial returns, but you have to make sure you don't jeopardise the safety of your organisation."
A Bahraini national, Mr Ali was born and brought up in the kingdom before he moved to the US to study for his MBA degree in Oregon. He has since worked in aviation. After cutting his teeth at British Airways, where he worked for more than 20 years, he moved back to Bahrain to become vice president of commercial and customer service for Gulf Air.
He then launched Air Arabia.
In recent months, surging fuel prices have once again become one of his biggest headaches. Air Arabia has already hedged a quarter of its fuel needs for this year to help guard against the risk of further price rises.
But the possibility of another surge caused by armed conflict involving Iran does not keep him awake at night, he says. "Worrying will only give you an ulcer. This region has gone through so many wars, it comes and goes and you need to look at this and hope it doesn't happen and if it does, then you change your plans."
Despite the many challenges he faces, his job still has rewards. Helping people to travel is the most satisfying aspect, he says.
"The nice thing about the business I'm in is that it's a people business, and you know that every time a plane takes off, you're connecting people, you're making people happy. Even if they are travelling for a sad reason, you're still helping them deal with the pain," he says. "There's such a mixture of nationalities and ages, and everyone is travelling for a completely different purpose, but everyone has a story to tell. That's why you want to make sure the business is safe."
Mr Ali still thinks there are opportunities for more people to travel in the region. Only 6.5 to 7 per cent of those who fly in the Middle East use low-cost airlines, he says.
That compares with nearly 17 per cent in Asia, 18 to 20 per cent in Europe, and 20 to 22 per cent in the US. Those figures, together with the region's surging population growth, makes him optimistic for the future.
"Ideally, I look at the day when the whole Arab world will have access to open and free skies and everyone can fly to anywhere with no restriction," he says.
For the budget model to really take off, however, he says some of the region's airports need to change their negative perception of low-cost carriers and open their runways to them.
"One would hope that the Arab Spring gives a different look to the way of doing business and privatising this industry, because this is a transport industry, and if it is privatised, airlines will compete on a commercial basis," he says.
"When that happens, it becomes more important to do what's in the best interest of the customer, and if it's done like that the low-cost model will grow."
Mr Ali is used to challenging resistance to the low-cost model. When he first revealed plans to launch a no-frills carrier, executives from the region's legacy carriers shook their heads.
"They said 'this will never work, it's crazy, you will have to close it down in three to six months'," he says. "They all congratulated me when it did work."
Mr Ali is likely to continue proving people wrong as he oversees the next stage of Air Arabia's planned growth. What is not likely to change is the way he feels about personally having to use transport.
"I travel a lot, but I prefer not to," he says. "I used to love it, but travel for me is like sitting in the office."