Dubai: If you are driving through Dubai, you cannot possibly miss him. Sharp-eyed with a chiselled jawline, his larger-than-life face stares at you from everywhere – whether it is a massive hoarding on a highway like Shaikh Zayed Road or Mohammad Bin Zayed Road or a small billboard in the interior pockets of Deira or Jebel Ali. Why, flip through a brochure at a blue-chip corporate or switch on the television at home, and chances are you will see his familiar frame again.
Five feet-and-11-inches tall, not so dark but incredibly handsome, Kabeer Ali is a 75kg hunk who has become the UAE’s heartthrob, thanks to the umpteen number of products, services and organisations he endorses through advertisements and TV commercials.
The 31-year-old Pakistani model and actor based in Dubai told XPRESS, “I have lost count of the ads and commercials I have done since I started in 2013. But it should easily be over 100.”
Ali, who hails from Lahore, said he came to Dubai in late 2012 with dreams of becoming a super model. “I had tried some modelling back in Pakistan and always wanted to settle down in Dubai because of the opportunities it provided. My parents encouraged me to work on my body and portfolio to make the big leap.”
As he went around knocking on the doors of modelling agencies, luck was on his side. “Initially, I was apprehensive because I was not sure I stood a chance among so many good looking people from hundreds of nationalities here. But when God wills, no one can come in the way. When I arrived in Dubai, I was working with a telecom operator, so I would do my auditions during the break. Early on, I did face a couple of rejections and felt like giving up. But thanks to my parents again, I didn’t and I got my first big break with a TV commercial in a few months.”
There has been no looking back since and Ali has emerged as the man for all seasons and occasions. His wide variety of ads say it all. He endorses four major banks in the UAE, including Mashreq, RAK Bank, and National Bank of Fujairah and is the face of many high profile government departments and private organisations.
“The list is long … the other photo shoots and TV commercials that immediately come to mind include those I have done for du, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, DP World, Expo 2020, 999 Security & Safety Magazine, Al Ain Zoo Education Centre, Sharjah Tatweer Forum, P-Guards Security System, Sharjah Tourism, Dewa, Shams Dubai, Dubai Security, Al Mouwasat Saudi Hospital, Suzuki, Prime Hospital, Galerie Hamadan, Global Home, Mc Donalds, Tresemme, Carphone warehouse, Vodaphone, Sharjah Mosque, Dubai Tourism, Dubai Parks & Resorts, Cleveland Hospital, Hafilat Card Abu Dhabi, Cityscape …,” said Ali, who has also acted in Bollywood films like Bewakoofiyaan, Aagroo and Airlift besides Arabic TV series.
One photographer who has shot Ali said, “He’s a natural in front of the camera. You just have to tell him the mood you are looking for and he takes care of the rest.”
Despite the success, Ali remains humble. He said he gets anywhere between Dh2,500 to Dh12,000 for a day’s shoot today, but can never forget the hardships he has gone through. “Since I didn’t bag any main roles in the beginning, I would do extras and the money was nothing. I could barely manage my meals but I continued because I was passionate about my work.”
And what about the fan following? “Yes, I get thousands of messages from girls who lavish praise on me, tell me that they love me and even ask me out for a coffee. But I never take advantage of it and know better than to get carried away with such adulation. Discipline is very essential in my profession.”
The sense of discipline is evident even in his diet. Ali, who loves his mother’s parathas and chicken biryani, said he has had to sacrifice his favourite foods for leaner alternatives. “I maintain a strict diet which is usually confined to two scrambled eggs and orange juice for breakfast, a salad for lunch and boiled rice with a steak for dinner.”
He said his goal is to one day start his own modelling company to tap fresh talent and train them. “I have a long way to go but my journey so far has taught me that one can achieve one’s dreams by never giving up.”