Carolina D'Souza and Ritu Raizada check out what makes some men keep insecurity out of bounds

Farooq Mahmood Arjomand
Chairman, Arjomand Group of Companies and Director, Amlak Finance

His high-powered business designation makes you feel you might be walking on an egshell or two as you enter his office. A few minutes of conversation later, you feel all relaxed and realise that that was a very fine, smooth floor you walked on. The eggshells were in your mind.

Farooq Mahmood Arjomand, 45, is a gentleman in the purest mould. He exudes power of course but also a lot of elegance and warmth. "My father died when I was just 12," he says.

"We are nine siblings and my mother brought us up. This is ... why I know the importance a woman holds in a family."

Married to Laila Galadari, they have three children: Mahmood, Noora and Abdullah - aged 13, 10 and 8 respectively.

"Laila is the head of the house," he smiles. "My role is limited to being the provider of the family. She takes care of our kids' educational and day-to-day needs. We are well aware of each other's roles and complement and supplement each other."

Security to him ...
... means a good job, good career and good education. "It is equally important to be ambitious and (if you have) a good education to back you, you can surge ahead," he believes.

According to him, insecurity is endemic to an individual. "It totally depends upon a situation. If a man's peers are ahead of him, and he is falling behind, he is not going to be at ease. That is how insecurity seeps in.

"Take language barriers, for example: If an Arab is not fluent in English and has to strike a business deal with a European, he will obviously feel uncomfortable during the meeting.

"But if he is well-versed in the language, he may not feel that he is lagging behind. The same goes for a person of a lower financial standing and who has to deal with a much more powerful and financially sound person."

"Of course, there are physical insecurities as well," he adds. "If a man is handsome, tall and of a good build, he is bound to make a not-so-handsome guy feel insecure."

Arjomand feels that emotional security is about having a family to complete a man. "What is the point in just working hard, earning a lot of money and having no one to take on the mantle after you?" he asks.

He feels that women's insecurities are more prevalent because they are largely dependant on men. But because of globalisation and the many changes taking place in the society, women are becoming more and more independent.

"Just because we have been told that man was made stronger than woman, does not mean that men are stronger. Over the last few years, society has seen women achieve top positions.

"I guess most men are unable to cope with these changes but it is time men understood that women are better at handling pressures. Today's women are a part of the government, too, and are doing a better job because they are mentally more focused and can juggle many tasks at the same time."

After a 17-year stint with HSBC, "I wanted a more challenging life and decided to take a risk with business.

"Working as a bank employee, one tends to get addicted to the monthly salary. No one wants to try doing something on his own. I decided to take the risk to be able to grow and move ahead in my career.

"I am ambitious and I realised that Dubai was growing pretty fast in all sectors: technology, stock market, tourism, real estate, etc. I saw it as a good opportunity and wanted to make the most out of it."

Today he owns several types of businesses in the hospitality industry, travel agencies, in the manufacturing industry as well as in foodstuff trading, etc.

Quality time with the family

According to him, power does give an individual a sense of security but the most powerful men are also the most insecure in both, their personal and professional, lives.

"I could be very rich and very successful but (I could) still feel insecure if I don't have enough time for my family and children. Now, on one side I feel secure that my family is doing well but at the same time, (I) feel insecure that I am not giving them any time," he explains.

"During the last few years, I have been so busy growing professionally that I have not found enough time to meet my social commitments towards my close family! I realise that money is not everything.

"And, trust me, it's not worth it. Sometimes I end up telling myself: Enough is enough. But with so much of competition and with the times changing so fast, I have to keep going!

"I have always looked after myself even when I was pursuing my graduation in the US. Most men these days colour their hair but look, I am not hiding my grey.

"This craze is due to Hollywood stars who spend all their money and time looking good and we just want to ape them. But what is the point in looking good externally if you don't possess genuine character too?"

Amazing as it may sound, he is a shopaholic. "When you work very hard in life, you want to possess the best things in life. I indulge myself by buying watches, cars, clothes, etc, and if you were to see my family and me shopping together, I will be the one carrying the maximum number of shopping bags!

"I am also fond of gadgets and gizmos, which these days are an essential part of the day-to-day lifestyle."

He is not wary of admitting that old age is not something he looks forward to. "Everybody is terrified of it," he states.

"Thanks to technology and new-age cosmetics, you can delay the process of ageing. But, one should accept it as a fact of life because no one can live forever. One should age gracefully and live life to the fullest. After all, you never know how long you are going to live!"

?Insecurity is directly linked to risk-taking'

Ahmad Bin Sulayem
COO, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre

He is the man born with the proverbial golden spoon. Sulayem knows what he wants in life and his focus is sharp as a pin. All he wants is a sound career.

"I have had no vacation in the last three years and have not taken medical leave even when I was really unwell and tired. That is because DMCC is a splendid organisation and I really enjoy working here. And why shouldn't I? I am living in Dubai, which has everything from around the world and is still developing!"

He believes that any type of insecurity depends upon the situation a person is in and how well he can handle it. "Most often people create barriers in their mind and it stays in their heads," he says. "Insecurity is directly linked to risk-taking ..."

One of the most common insecurities in men has to do with their physical features. "It's (quite like) the man and donkey story," he says.

"Whichever way the man chose to travel with his donkey, there were people who had comments to make. The same is true for most men. If one is too short, it is a problem ... if he is tall, that also is a problem. The same goes for weight-related issues."

He suggests controlling the mind and seeking a mind-body balance to overcome these problems.

"There are some people who have an amazing ability to hide their insecurities even in difficult situations whereas there are others who display them 24/7.

"It is annoying for the man as well as others, but one must learn to have absolute control over his or her emotions. Sometimes, a situation may arise that can be very difficult for him to control ... and it affects him, particularly if he has always lived by noble principles.

"It may also create a rift in his professional and personal life. Men then start playing the blame game or simply feel hapless and hopeless."

But there are a few men who choose to work harder to get over it all and Sulayem belongs to that category. "Two years back, I failed the Young Arab Leaders programme in the UAE in the second round," he says.

For him, what's important is learning from mistakes and not repeating them. "I look at it this way: Nobody has the right to judge me! But that experience drove me to work harder to prove myself."

Rejection and failure often drives men towards taking their lives and this is an issue which Sulayem fails to understand. Men, he says, should realise that there are some things which they cannot do.

"They have to understand that they, for instance, cannot physically give birth to a child. Only a woman can do it. It is the women who do all the hard work. And let's not forget that we wouldn't exist if it were not for the women!"

Undoubtedly, Sulayem has deep regard for women: "I respect women in all sorts of roles. A mother always takes care of her children better than (she would) others'.

"But it totally depends upon the choice she makes. If she chooses to work, even the grandmother can bring up the children. Again, let us not forget that even the grandmother is a woman.

"In pre-historic times, men were known to be the ones with a higher status. But that is not the case now," he says.

"I think we are living in an age where women are enjoying a lifestyle similar to that of men. Whatever role a woman chooses to play, she should be highly respected. You cannot survive if you have a mindset (that does not respect women)."

He strongly believes that marriage should not be based on the issue of money. "The couple should be focusing on their respective lives instead.

On marriage

"Why should either of them sit and worry about who is earning more? Critics will always make your life difficult. If you move too fast, they will criticise your speed and if you don't move at all, they will criticise you for being slow. Just learn to ignore them and lead your life peacefully."

Sulayem likes to be a free man and exercise free will. So much so that he does not like wearing any accessories, not even a watch.

His most prized possession is his iPod, which according to him is the best thing ever invented.

On the great urban myth that women are charmed by the gadgets, gizmos and pricey geegaws a man owns, he says, "If someone believes that money can attract a woman to him, let me warn him that it need not be so."

And in keeping with all his views it is fitting that Sulayem also believes in ageing gracefully. "I am yet to grow old," he says, "but I must say that I am a very impatient man and I have heard that with age, men get really impatient. I wonder how (impatient) I would be in my old age."

Free will and impatience. Now that would be a combination to watch.