From the very first time we met them as students, to seeing them today, succeed in their personal endeavors, we knew that these achievers would be able to carve out a niche for themselves.
While they may belong to different disciplines what unites them in their sheer determination to go after their dreams with everything they have.
Fahad Al Musallam: Revving Up the Adrenaline
The passion that Fahad Al Musallam exudes as he talks about his love for riding feels almost contagious.
At 23, Fahad is already a veteran of the ATV race scene. His story kick-started when his father bought a six-year old Fahad his first ATV. In 2014 and several years of riding later, he found himself at his first race. Since then, strewn with uninterrupted success, his career has experienced exponential growth.
Needless to say, this success attracted attention both from within Kuwait and beyond. In September 2016, he received a call from the Kuwait Motocross Club with a coveted invite to compete at the FIM Cross Country Rally World Cup in April’17, just six months later. Not one to turn down an opportunity to race, Fahad accepted the challenge, and started practicing on the Rally built Yamaha Raptor 700R.
As his new Raptor became an extension of him, he began to win every race he entered, including the Emirates Desert Championship. And soon after, the FIM Baja World Cup came to Dubai for the first time ever and he won that as well, with a substantial 18-minute lead.
And then, the imminent FIM Cross Country Rally World Cup. The race he had been preparing for since last September. Bolstered by his recent successes, he was ready to take home the cup. Fresh out of the race field this April, Fahad unfolds the behind-the-scenes, excitement lighting up his eyes. 18 riders. Five days. 2,000 kilometres. 1 winner. As he speaks, it becomes clear that it was his iron-clad determination and will that paved the path to the triumph, battling all the odds and disadvantages that came with being a first-timer at the Cross Country Rally World Cup.
For all his love for sports, this young racer is also aware of the risks of his career choice. He says, “I love it, but you must always have something to fall back on. You never know what the future brings”. So now he looks forward to getting back to his alma mater, AUK, after having taken a year off. “This time, I will take my academics slow so I can balance sports and university. I cannot keep sports aside; it just feels wrong to me to not be racing”.
Practicing is a round-the-clock affair for Fahad. In fact, he states, “The man who wins next season is the man who is preparing now. Race day manifests who prepared best and most”. Though he has not received any formal coaching, Fahad considers Mohammed Jaffar from Kuwait and Mohammed Bloushi from the UAE as his role models.
Fahad’s penultimate dream has always been to live the life of a pro- ATV athlete, representing his country across the globe. Having established himself as a formidable fixture at every race, he has been living that dream for the past year. But the race to the top is not over for Fahad, and with his drive, the world is yet to see the best of him.
Fajer Al Owaish: Stepping Stones
Maneuvering through a throng of business ideas and initiatives, Fajer Al Owaish boldly explores new ventures. Since the age of eighteen, she has set off in an entrepreneurial direction propelling herself forward to a breakthrough.
This hue of the ‘I can do it’ attitude is part of what brought Fajer to Studentalk’s attention when we first featured her back in 2013. Much has happened since then, and she has been hard at work, bringing new ideas to life. Recently, her latest venture, The Elite Concept took form and has begun rendering its event management services available to customers. She definitely has her plate full, but there is no end to this young woman’s drive.
Be it Boutique’na, Let’s Help Kuwait or even The Elite Concept, these initiatives have taught Fajer the need to learn and adapt. Fajer believes that learning from one’s own mistakes plays a big role in success. “There are trends in Kuwait that are beyond the reports of social media or blogs. It is only through experiment and experience that anyone can truly understand the people, the region’s the customer base.”
Her inspiration springs forth foremost from her parents who have encouraged and supported her every step of the way. She says, “My family is a business-oriented one. My mother offers her opinions and suggestions and is a guiding light for me. I see what my dad does for us every day, and I look up to him for that. They keep me going.”
Speaking of inspiration, she remembers, “I once attended a seminar which focused on youth empowerment where one of the speakers, a VIVA employee drove this message home, “It is ok to fail! It made a huge impact on me. I was in school at the time, and realized that when I put in my best without any fear of the outcome, I scored even better. This is the principle I have since applied to my life as well. I do not fear failure.”
Besides all her entrepreneurial attempts, another constant in her life since she turned seven has been ballet. She dreams of being able to dance on a stage someday. In the meantime, she teaches little kids in nursery and hopes to get a certification to teach older students. For Fajer, ballet is not just what it seems to be, though. She holds it close to her heart for more reasons than one. “It was not easy for me. Handling the discrimination I faced in class when I was just that little whilst enjoying ballet also helped me understand my own mettle, and made me a stronger person.”
In conclusion, to all those who are just about to start university or have just embarked on their academic journeys, Fajer says, “Do what you want, not what your parents want. Though they mean well, you need to make sure you are ultimately doing what you love. Either way, make sure you work hard at university. Studying well takes you further than you realize.”
Manal Adra: Strokes of Success
Manal Adra is no stranger to Studentalk and neither is success to her.
When we met with her in September 2013 for the artist of the month feature, she was fresh out of university and pursuing her hobbies in art. Her spark was not lost on us then, and it is just as evident now as we sit with her for a tête-à-tête.
Five years down the line from our last conversation, Manal is now is the PR & Marketing Manager at The Palms Hotel and Spa, Kuwait. And it is not luck or chance that has got her where she is. Her journey since university continues to showcase her passion and diligence.
To Manal, PR and Marketing go hand-in-hand with her first love, arts. Communicating, to her, is an art; brochures, flyers and other marketing efforts are all expressions of that art. According to Manal, “Marketing itself has become such a visual affair, shifting away from the pivotal focus on just sales and stats”. This ability to see the role of art around her revives her fascination even while she is at work. Every new person she meets from a different culture unfolds a fresh story and piques her interest.
“I am a brand ambassador for the hotel. So I need to be at my best at all times, to ensure that those I interact with have the best experience,” she says. “Meticulous planning and organization play a big role in my life”. And no wonder at that. She does not leave home without her planners and calendars, and constantly aligns her plans with realistic goals to accommodate her five-year and ten-year objectives. The foresight that she applies to her career is not just commendable but also rare.
Though she works full-time, she finds the time to paint. According to her, painting makes her ‘feel free’. Just last year, she taught drawing and painting to a class of twenty students of mixed ages at the TIES Centre, a non-profit organization.
She makes all this possible by being organized and grounded. “It is important to know what your priorities are”, she says. “When I had just graduated, there was so much that I felt I wanted to do. Soon enough, I recognized the need to zero in on what I really wanted, and that’s when I started working as a Graphic Designer at Jumeirah Hotel, whilst painting as and when I could.”
“Once you step out of university, you have to learn to wing it; to live it. You have to fail on your own and pick yourself up a few times to be able to make it.”
She believes that her experience as a designer working for a Marketing Manager helped her understand the nuances of her job to a depth that would otherwise have been inaccessible to her. Today, as a manager herself, she uses that experience and knowledge to her benefit.
She dreams of being in a role that enables her to use her skills to benefit others, travelling and exploring new horizons. Her planning, organization, strength of resolve and hard work are the keys that open the door to her dreams. And we at Studentalk wish her the very best!
Muhammed Al Ali: Behind the Scenes
Film-making happened to Muhammed Al Ali when he was just 13 years old. Amazed by what he saw in a behind-the-scenes rendition of a film, he realized that even a simple shot took a team of people and a whole lot of equipment to create. ‘Pure magic’, he says. That realization spurred him on toward the career path that he is on now.
When Studentalk spoke with Muhammed in February 2011, he had just begun his career at Cinemagics. Six years later, he has come a long way. Lessons have not been scant along this path, and he learnt them the hard way. One such lesson was how critical a story is to a film. He explains, “If a director walks away, you can pick another. If an actor walks away, you can pick another. However, if the story-writer leaves and takes his story with him, there is no film anymore”.
Muhammed is focused on his dream of being one more name to add to the elite club of recognized Kuwaiti Directors, of whom there are only three in the region. “I am more than half-way there”, he says. “I have already established myself in the social media advertising arena. But what cinches it for me, is having been able to create advertisements that are aired on TV. Despite being in the digital age, the sense that clients are willing to trust me with the time and financial investment that goes into TV time is very exhilarating”.
Things are not easy for young directors in the region, due to the cut-throat nature of the film and media industry. When he decided to take on film-making as his career, he was initially hired as an assistant. During the shooting of an advertisement for Zain, he would be asked to carry coffee and snacks for the crew. Muhammed smiles and says, “This was another beginning. I would sneak looks at the Director’s screen and get to chat with the actors as well. I got really close to the action, and had access to insights that I did not have before”.
Muhammed’s motto is to keep at it despite the roughest waves of challenges and obstacles that come at him. And this serves as his advice to youth who might want to go down the same path as he did. He also believes it is not possible to know everything.
Having worked at Cinemagics and freelanced for a while, Muhammed is at the threshold of his own production house. Targeting bigger companies who are more receptive to the concept of a middle-man in their advertising chain, he believes “it is important to have a production house to ensure the best quality, and that is what I provide”.
“I have come a long way, but in the big picture, I’ve taken but one step along a path that takes a thousand more to master”, he says.