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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

My UAE: Abdullah Al Qassab and his work with the Emirates’ youth

A profile of the Emirati youth mentor Abdullah Al Qassab.
Abdullah Al Qassab spends much of his time coaching and mentoring youths in the UAE. Sammy Dallal / The National
Abdullah Al Qassab spends much of his time coaching and mentoring youths in the UAE. Sammy Dallal / The National
Within seconds of meeting Abdullah Al Qassab, you realise that this is a man who could talk for his country. Not that this is a problem. Because when Al Qassab talks, he almost always has something interesting to say. He’s good at talking – so good that he spends an inordinate amount of his time being asked to do it in front of groups.

Talking doesn’t pay the bills, though. For that, Al Qassab works as a senior research and development engineer for Gasco in Abu Dhabi. “The best part about my job is working with local talent,” he says. “We have Emirati professors in the industry, so we’re not just exporting gas and oil, but knowledge, too.”

The 26-year old lives in the capital with his wife and two-year old son, but he was “born, cooked, toasted and roasted in Sharjah”. This exuberant young man is on a mission to help his fellow countrymen and women to better themselves. “My employer wanted an engineer who was used to public speaking,” says Al Qassab. “I used to work for Dewa in Dubai – I was there for two years working as a conservation engineer and I was part of the team that won the Government’s Excellence Awards for educating people about reducing consumption. Gasco hired me to do the same thing, but I was soon promoted to other projects.”

That hasn’t prevented Al Qassab from using his communication talents to encourage his fellow citizens, as he spends much of his spare time “coaching and mentoring youths”, helping to develop their potential. “Society will rise up if the young grasp the opportunities open to them,” he says. “And when I see kids getting excited about reading books, researching subjects and actually bragging about what they’re learning – instead of wasting their time on computer games or whatever – then I get a buzz, knowing that, in some small way, I’ve played a part in this.”

What car do you drive?

A Jeep. I’m a member of a group called UAEOffRoaders, which is made up of all manner of nationalities. I love the Al Ain area for off-roading; it can be very tough out there.

Favourite author

Malcolm Gladwell. He always writes after meticulous research – I like to think the way that he does: three-dimensional. The Tipping Point was my first book of his.

Favourite place

The desert. But I love India, too; it’s so diverse and the money Indians invest always seems to be pumped back into their own country. It’s also a country of great contradictions.

µSport

Kick-boxing. I won a gold medal, but then my mother made me promise to give it up after I came home with bruises all over my face. But I really want to take it up again.

Cuisine of choice

Arabic, especially the seafood, but I do love the small Indian restaurants you get in the middle of industrial areas here. The chefs know that putting food on your table means their families get to eat, and they really put their all into it. The small restaurants are way better than the big, fancy ones.

Gadget

Samsung [Galaxy] Note 3 mobile phone. I can do practically anything on it – send my CV, edit photos, keep in touch with family and friends. It’s a brilliant piece of kit.

Best advice ever received

The Green Sheikh [Abdul Aziz bin Ali bin Rashid Al Nuaimi] once told me to only enhance my strong points and the weaknesses will follow naturally. He calls it ‘the fattening strategy’ and I try to live my life this way.

Music

Anything with a strong female vocalist. Florence and the Machine, she sounds amazing – what a voice. I’ve just discovered Kat Dahlia, too, her song Gangsta I really like.

Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis. He’s not like George Clooney or Denzel Washington, who seem to be the same in every film. Day-Lewis, when you see him in real life, he looks nothing like his film characters.

Keeping fit

I work out at home – push-ups, weights; I’m very active.

khackett@thenational.ae

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