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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

My UAE: The world view of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al Thani

Sheikh Mohammed was born and raised in Sharjah, and after a childhood that he says was filled with joy and playing with friends, he studied business at the American University of Sharjah. In 2007, he and two of his university friends established Musafir.com.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani, co-founder of the online travel agency Musafir. Courtesy Musafir
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani, co-founder of the online travel agency Musafir. Courtesy Musafir

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani says he is an explorer at heart and always on the lookout for the next unexplored destination. So it’s no surprise that he’s one of the brains behind the UAE ­online travel agency ­Musafir.com.

“I firmly believe travelling is much more than just visiting a destination,” says the passionate mountaineer, who climbed Mount Everest in 2013. “Life’s best experiences and learning comes from meeting new people, understanding different cultures and getting introduced to new experiences.”

Sheikh Mohammed was born and raised in Sharjah, and after a childhood that he says was filled with joy and playing with friends, he studied business at the American University of Sharjah.

In 2007, he and two of his university friends established Musafir.com. “We had already established a brick and mortar travel agency with Sachin Gadoya [now Musafir managing director], but both of us were keen on leveraging the growing popularity of online services across various sectors in the UAE,” says the Sharjah resident. “We discussed this with ­Albert Dias, a former ­[university] classmate of ours, and agreed the future of travel was online.”

Sheikh Mohammed says that once the trio decided to start the venture, they agreed its name should “symbolise the true essence of an individual who loves travelling”. Musafir means “traveller” in Arabic.

“Musafir today is a leading travel services company that offers holistic, customised and value-added travel and holiday solutions through online and offline channels,” explains the 33-year-old father of three, who is a member of both the Qatari and Sharjah royal families. “This year, we will expand into Saudi Arabia and Qatar. I have a brilliant team. I have been fortunate enough to have the desire, support and means to pursue my dreams.”

What is your favourite food?

Burgers. I follow a strict diet, and so I don’t get to have them too often.

What five things do you always pack when you travel?

My laptop, iPhone, swimming trunks, gummy bears and sleeping pills.

What’s your favourite travel destination?

Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It is very relaxing, and it is not a place most people from the Middle East travel to.

What’s your favourite movie?

Everest because it perfectly describes the journey, the challenges you face, how much work goes into it and how dangerous it can be.

What music do you currently have on repeat?

Electronic dance music and house music

If you could sit next to anyone on a flight, who would it be?

Richard Branson.

Describe yourself in a sentence?

I’m creative, goal-orientated, always think out of the box and am very energetic.

What or who motivates you?

I am more of a self-motivator. I find motivation in the challenge in front of me.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.

What do you do when you have downtime?

I usually don’t have downtime, but when I do, I hit the gym.

mhealy@thenational.ae