Ibrahim Sharara,'at the 'Battle of the Brands' in Al Ghurair Centre, Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Just when things were looking down for Lebanese expatriate Ibrahim Sharara, a pleasant surprise in Dubai turned his life around. The self-made master of ceremonies (MC) — who overcame stuttering as a young boy and had stage fright of public speaking — has received a ten-year UAE Golden Visa.

Sharara, 26, had been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as the events where he used to be the MC were cancelled under precautionary measures. However, his worries turned into relief as he received a surprise call from Dubai Culture and Arts Authority recently. Sharara was puzzled as he had not even applied for the Golden Visa. Sharara said he was told he had been nominated because of his experience as an MC for major events, his talent as an artist (he composes music and sings) and for his content creation on social media, for which he has almost 19,000 followers.

Golden visa for Sharara
Ibrahim Sharara being presented with the ten-year UAE Golden Visa. Image Credit: Supplied

‘This is a dream’

“I really do consider the UAE to be my home. This is a dream. I can hardly believe it’s actually happening. The UAE is providing a lot of opportunities for everybody. I am so happy and I’m so grateful that they considered me for the Golden Visa,” Sharara said.

Perfect timing

The good news could not have come at a more opportune moment. Sharara had been feeling low and struggling financially after the pandemic struck in 2020. Until early 2020, his career was soaring. “I was at a point where I did not need to apply as an MC for events. The organisers themselves would approach me. Then the pandemic came and I found myself stuck at home — no event, no income, no people.”

About a month ago, after some formalities and paperwork, Sharara was informed to visit an immigration office where he was presented with the Golden Visa.

New leads

With the easing of restrictions, Sharara is starting to get leads for MC opportunities again. “The biggest reason that has helped me get back on track is the Golden Visa. When everything was falling apart in life, all of a sudden, this good news came. It motivates me to keep on going, never give up.” He also plans to release a new album soon.

‘I could not speak with anyone’

Sharara first came to Dubai in 2004 as a nine-year-old to live with his mum, who had arrived here a year before him. Back then, Sharara, who has made a career from speaking to huge crowds at events, was a shy boy — not least because he used to stutter (stammer) a lot. “I could not speak with anyone. I could not place an order over the phone. It was really bad; I felt like the whole world was against me,” Sharara said.

Sharara performs at the UAE National Day celebrations. Image Credit: Supplied

After struggling for years, he resolved to overcome his speech impediment. Sharara researched about people who had managed to overcome stuttering on their own. “I thought if they can do it, I can as well. I remember I would stand in front of the mirror and read a book. I would practise every single day.”

His efforts paid off.

Sharara has gone on to address tens of thousands of people without stuttering. Interestingly, he has always been able to rap and sing easily. His journey to becoming an MC actually began with event management, as a high-school student who freelanced for a small activation during the annual Dubai Shopping Festival. He continued volunteering and freelancing in similar spheres until one day, as a university student, he came across an opportunity for an MC at a tech fair in Dubai. Sharara, who was a budding rapper by then, knew he could sing on stage. But he still had a doubt: Will he be able to speak to an audience without stuttering?

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Yes, he could, as it turned out. His new-found confidence and talent in public speaking has today led him to being an MC at major events and concerts in the UAE.

‘I love making people happy’

“The thing that I like the most about MC-ing, is that I am the person in charge of changing the mood of the crowd. I am the person in charge to basically put a smile on everyone. It makes me so happy to see people are enjoying themselves. I love interacting with people,” Sharara added.