In 2017, I was asked to give a talk at Jumeirah Primary School to students from grades three to six. The broad outline was that the speech was to be motivational, explaining how the students could contribute to their community.
As one of three speakers, I was aware that my peers were giving similar speeches revolving around community service. I wanted to differentiate my message and leave the audience with a lesson that resonated. It just so happened that, at the time, many of my fellow students were looking for work experience.
While many took the easy option, working with their parents, I sought an opportunity that excited me. This culminated in my internship as an assistant martial arts coach at Fit Republik.
Chase the passion
I was able to help many children and teens develop their martial skills, but also their self-esteem. I drew upon that experience in my talk, urging the students to contribute to their communities in ways they were passionate about. And that any undertaking would be more likely to succeed if they enjoyed and took pride in it.
These memories came flooding back recently, when I was privileged enough to visit the offices of Liftdex, a UAE-based gym equipment fabrication company. I was eager to meet one of the co-founders, Aamir Kapadia, to learn about the business. He told me that fitness had always been an integral part of his life, and had originally wanted to own his own gym.
But he transitioned to helping his father run a steel and manufacturing business after university. It was this phase that sparked the idea to create a company predicated on the production and supply of gym equipment. The access to the steel factory was crucial, acting as the foundation from where the business could grow quickly.
A small team was put together, along with a social media presence and a website, and the company was up and running. Liftdex has been able to achieve impressive levels of success in the short period they have been operating thus far, servicing gyms like The Den DXB, and even supplying equipment for the IPL team Kolkota Knight Riders for their stay in the UAE.
Their day-to-day operations centre around individual clients looking to furbish their home gyms, and they credit their success to offering customisable specs on their products, as well as providing a range of services, including safety-testing, delivery, installation and maintenance at competitive prices. Their relatively small size allows for personal and speedy customer service, although plans are already in motion for operations to expand across the GCC.
Work on it
Liftdex is a testament to what can be achieved by chasing dreams. Sport and fitness has always been a significant aspect of my life, but never had the courage to commit the time and energy to achieve anything substantial within that realm.
The value of taking pride in your work should not be underestimated, and UAE youth should follow the example of Liftdex in pursuing projects that they are excited by. There is a plethora of resources to exploit that can catalyse exciting career prospects, whether that be playing for a local sports club (a peer of mine was scouted while playing for LaLiga Academy), founding a company using free zones and start-up hubs, or seeking exposure in the arts through any of the events or cultural hotspots.
Just as I urged an auditorium of students years ago to look for projects they were passionate about, I am now levelling that same plea at the broader youth of the UAE. The inherent risk of such endeavours is daunting, but it is always better to take a chance...
- Umer Lakhani is a Dubai-based undergrad.