Young people encouraged to start and manage businesses
Danish Farhan started a design studio at 19, making him one of the youngest start-up entrepreneurs in the Middle East.
Amine Hassani was also 19 when he started his career as a property negotiator for Foxtons in London. Now 25, he is a specialist broker in Dubai.
Robin Titus, also 25, is general manager of the Middle East and North Africa division of Naseba, a global business information firm in Dubai.
The three men represent a battalion of young people who are climbing the professional ladder.
Entrepreneurs are being encouraged to follow their career paths here at a young age. As a result, the UAE has some of the youngest leading businessmen in the Middle East.
"The acquisition of my first company was not easy," said Mr Farhan, now 29, who 10 years ago founded the Dubai-based hybrid consulting boutique Xische & Co.
"It was difficult being thrown into board meetings of mid-aged executives that did not have the patience to slow their pace," he said. "So I had to speed mine. That was my business school.
"It really depends on one's individual aptitude, but I felt there was little I would learn in a classroom that I could not access via books, or close proximity to people I aspired to emulate."
Several organisations have recently launched professional platforms available to the younger generation, contributing to a growing number of Emiratis on the business scene.
From the Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders in Dubai to the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre at the Khalifa Fund, which is hosting business events for young people in Abu Dhabi, opportunities abound.
The ArabNet Dubai Workshop, an International Arab Web Conference, earlier this week provided local entrepreneurs with information on how to start their own businesses.
The Dubai Women's College also offers extensive support and mentorship for businesswomen.
These organisations are helping businesspeople take control of their careers by creating forums, seminars and conferences on entrepreneurship and start-ups.
There is clearly an interest. The manager of the entrepreneurship development department at the Khalifa Fund, Najla al-Midfa, an Emirati, said her organisation receives 1,500 applications a year.
"We are trying to encourage younger entrepreneurs to start early," she said.
Nao Valentino, manager of the Dubai Women's College entrepreneurship centre, organised a showcase this week, and said: "Our role as educators places us in the pivotal position of supplying the UAE with qualified graduates who will contribute positively to the local society and economy, and we will continue to rise to the challenge."
Mr Titus said he believes that "success is your choice - it's challenging and it's hard".
He does not hold a university degree, arguing that, "It's not a piece of paper that classifies your competence, it's you getting into business at a young age, and that's practical, it's not theory.
"You have to get your hands dirty - that's experience," he said.
Updated: December 23, 2010 04:00 AM