x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Business leaders in Dubai offer advice to youths

Address seminar aimed at helping budding entrepreneurs develop leadership skills

DUBAI // Perseverance, hard work and sacrifice are among the key ingredients for success, youngsters were told yesterday.

Members of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Community (KSIMC) were given the advice from businessmen as part of a seminar aimed at building and developing leadership skills.

"In Eastern or Islamic culture you don't tend to see people in a leadership position or those who have been successful in business talking about how they made it," said Shane Phillips, managing director of Shane Phillips Consultancy.

"In the West we have people like Sir Martin Sorrell going into colleges and universities talking about how they became successful and how he created the world's biggest advertising agency."

People who make good leaders and have become a success have a set of values they believe in and stick to, Mr Phillips added.

"If you have a set of values then people will follow someone like that," he said.

Ihsan Jawad, founder of Zawya.com, said it was crucial to show perseverance and keep a level head.

"There will be difficult times when you are an entrepreneur because there are always ups and downs in running a company," he told an audience of about 40 people at the Grand Millennium Hotel in Tecom.

"They key thing for me is that you must be flexible in your approach. Don't be too stubborn on a set path if the evidence is that it won't work."

Mr Jawad said many successful people in the Arab and Muslim world shied away from taking part in events such as the seminar because they did not want to be perceived as showing off or become the focus of attention.

"There is a big thing about humility when you're successful, but I think more and more people are realising that it's beneficial to pass on their advice and experiences to help other people," he said.

For Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, being focused and doing your best is the key to success.

"It doesn't matter if it's in business or in your personal life," he said. "You need to try to improve yourself every day. Whether that means being healthier or studying more or whatever.

"By always working to improve yourself you will be much better placed to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way."

The KSIMC is a distinct community of people with an East African heritage, from countries such as Tanzania and Uganda. Many settled in the UAE 40 years ago.

Those who attended the seminar were positive about the speakers.

Kulsoom Hooda, a teacher from the UK, has been contemplating setting up her own business for a number of years.

"The big thing I got from this event is that if you have an idea just go out and do it," she said. "For me it was a case of pushing through cultural barriers and doing what you feel is the right thing if you want to set up your own business."

Ammar Suleman, 17, from Canada, said the speakers gave him a clearer idea of what was necessary to become a success.

"I definitely want to be my own boss," he said. "I'm thinking about setting up my own graphic-design company and the issue of persevering really struck a chord with me."

"The fact that so many successful people had to struggle and make sacrifices but they continued to do what they believed in really brought it home to me."

For Sameer Merali, also 17, from the UK, the business leaders made him realise becoming an entrepreneur was not the path for him.

"In that respect it was good to come here and realise business is not the best thing for me," he said. "I'm looking more into media, possibly journalism, but I'm not sure yet."

nhanif@thenational.ae