A while back, I met a friend to discuss an upcoming collaborative project. After she sipped her coffee, she told me that my latest speech, at Tamakkan's entrepreneurship seminar in Abu Dhabi, gave her the nudge needed to finally publish her artwork and introduce it to different publications.
My friend graduated with a degree in computer science but never felt that this was the field she wanted to spend the rest of her life working in. In fact she was more passionate about art, supporting it, but never finding enough materials about Arab artists in her field who spoke about their artistic journeys.
I remember pushing her to publish her work from time to time. And I am glad that she has finally decided to do so.
I asked her about her plans, and whether she will publish her work in Abu Dhabi. She surprised me by saying that she will introduce her work in Europe first before introducing it to her own country, the UAE.
"I've read numerous success stories about people in the West, especially in the arts field, and the availability of such material and access to their success journeys, in different formats, encouraged me to pursue my passion and gave me an idea on which path to take, and who to approach about my work.
"There's rarely any access to such material in our region, so it would be easier to start in the West" she says.
What she told me that night reminded of an email I received a few months ago from a high school student, who thanked me for inspiring her to pursue a career in fashion after hearing about my own experiences.
The email followed a "career day" event at a private school in Abu Dhabi where I was asked to talk about my journey in the design world, the construction of my small business and the challenges I faced along the way.
My speech was followed by a Q&A session during which I tackled the concerns of young students who planned to pursue design majors. I was surprised to see that many of them signed up to hear me speak. The reason behind that as stated by one of the faculty members was the lack of platforms where young achievers can discuss their journey and interact with those who want to pursue or have pursued similar paths.
It is no secret that getting such emails, and receiving similar gratitude to that of my friend, inspires me to continue writing about entrepreneurship, leadership and their challenges.
The impact it had on me was enormous. Hearing what my friend had to say over dinner the other day made me realise and firmly believe that success is contagious, for what you hear or read about success stories in fields similar to yours could inspire and motivate you to launch a business, develop an existing one, and maybe one day change the world.
Many successful people admit that they have been inspired by someone's great story. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela both said they had been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.
It is no doubt that access to success stories, whether they are in video or text format make it easier for people to follow their idol's footpath. It is easier for us to relate to others and hear about their journey, before embarking on our own.
Compared with the West, the Middle East has a limited success story inventory.
It was not until recent years in the UAE that the public could attend forums such as TEDx, Tamakkan seminars or access-Web platforms such as ThinkUp.ae to interact with pioneers and successful people.
However that is not enough. We all need stories to inspire our willpower and motivate us to succeed, and we need that starting at school and at university.
Young students need to be given a chance to read about and interact with those who could inspire them to pursue a field that will help to improve our beloved UAE, and hopefully that world.
After all, telling one's success story and the challenges that one has had to face is a form of giving back to the community. It is also inspiring how reading or listening to one story can, in turn, inspire an even bigger story.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati fashion designer and writer based in Abu Dhabi