Dubai: As the world deconstructs and morphs, new and avenues for employment have opened up. Earning a graduation degree is not sacrosanct and exclusive prerequisite for earning a decent livelihood.
The parables of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, all of who dropped out from college, dared to pursue their passion and think out of the box, and went on to become billionaires, are stuff of legends.
The path to quick ‘billionairedom’ maybe paved by creative machine learning, artificial intelligence and creation of software programmes. But there are other jobs in the world, which offer a steady financial potential for a respectable life and earning without coming with the rider of university education.
Many have gone down that path and scripted their own success stories. Gulf News spoke to three such unorthodox expatriates who gave up the idea of graduation to blaze their own success stories in Dubai.
Yasmin Majdi, waltzing her way through life
At the age of 20, Dubai-based Australian expatriate Yasmin Majdi runs her dance studio Yas music and dance where she teaches LA style dancing and contemporary singing to over 50 students. The academy is not just her bread and butter but the culmination of her passion.
Until the age of 8, I lived in Australia and when we moved to Dubai. I knew I wanted to be professional singer and dancer.
Blessed with a melodious voice and a panache for dance from the age of three, Majdi, the only daughter of a Slovakian mother and Moroccan father, knew from a very early age that she wanted to dedicate her life to the pursuit of performing arts.
She told Gulf News: “Until the age of 8, I lived in Australia and when we moved to Dubai. I knew I wanted to be professional singer and dancer. I decided not to waste time in a formal school and joined an online home-schooling group from US to get my high school degree. I realised that most schools would take a better part of my day while with home-schooling I was able to complete the course in two hours every day, leaving the time for me to focus on my passion.”
Majdi then went to Los Angeles to train with the professional vocal chords trainers for celebrities such as Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj. She learnt LA style dancing at the popular school Millennium in LA. She makes it a point to go every summer and do refreshers. But she put in all her energy to open the academy in Dubai with a few other performing arts tutors.
I know that university education in my case would have been a hindrance. It’s my dream to be internationally recognised as a recording star and dancer
“I know that university education in my case would have been a hindrance. It’s my dream to be internationally recognised as a recording star and dancer,” said Majdi who devotes her time to her academy to give complete mentoring to potential singers to be performing stars. Supported by her parents Slavka and Mustafa Majdi, there is no looking back for this young girl who thinks she has stolen a march over her contemporaries by not wasting time in graduation and going all out to chase her star studded career.
Majdi added: "During the pandemic, it has been challenging. But we reopened our studio a month ago and are students have returned. We follow strict protocols of temperature checks, social distancing, masks and hand hygiene, but I can say we are now back in business.”
Ali Soudi, building a business with the building blocks of passion and pragmatism
At 26, Ali Soudi, has already arrived in the world of event management and niche online marketing. In 2019, Soudi organised a much celebrated event at the Coca Cola Arena with motivational speaker Tony Robbins which was attended by thousands including His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
That event was very successful and essentially summed up his specialization in celebrity event management. Although the event management business did face a lull initially during the lockdown days, Soudi’s employees are back into the saddle and he is confident that it will soon be business as usual for him.
Soudi, who has two brothers and a sister and born to an Iranian father and a British mother, decided to drop out of studies after 12th grade. “I studied at the Repton School but realised that I wanted to have the advantage of an early start in my working life and did not want to waste four solid years at university,” said Soudi. Luckily for him, his parent supported him. “There was a huge protest in my extended family but my father, Daryush, who has been an entrepreneur told me most students left the university in debt, yet dreamed of showing up in Ferraris.
He asked me to first join his organisation. I began with cold calling and eventually went on to become an individual marketing consultant,” said Soudi. In a period of six months Soudi learnt a tremendous deal about human behaviour and psychology. “Cold calling is not about selling. I would book the initial seven-minute meeting with a client which I regarded as one step into the door. I can say 90 per cent of these clients ended up doing business with us, such is the power of persuasion,” he explained.
The only think I miss perhaps, is making those memories about university days with friends. That bit is missing from my entire experience but I have got used to that.
In the last eight years Soudi evolved from a door to door salesman to building a social media management empire that included creation of websites, advertising and now managing events of celebrities. Today he has a staff of 50 people working under him with the head office in UAE and a branch in Tbilisi, Georgia. "The only think I miss perhaps, is making those memories about university days with friends. That bit is missing from my entire experience but I have got used to that,” said Soudi
Mamta Babbar, beauty salon owner, turning adversity into opportunity
Barely able to complete her tenth grade studies, Mamta Babbar the owner of a successful beauty salon in Dubai, recalls the days of extreme penury and struggle. “We had no choice as a family. I recall I was in grade seven when our house had to be sold off to a beauty salon owner. We moved to a tinier rented place but my mother asked me to begin going to the salon to learn the basics.
I was only 13 years old and would go straight from school to the salon and worked there, sometimes watching the beauticians at work and sometimes cleaning and helping them.
"I was only 13 years old and would go straight from school to the salon and worked there, sometimes watching the beauticians at work and sometimes cleaning and helping them. After six months they began paying me a stipend of INR 100 (Dh7) per month with Sundays off. I had no choice but to work there as our family’s situation was dire. Higher studies was not an option,” recalls Babbar who moved to work in another salon by the age of 16 years getting a decent salary of INR 600 per month (Dh 32).
The early economic empowerment gave her desires wings and she eventually flew to Dubai in search of a job in early 1990s and landed a job with a popular beauty salon chain at the age of 22. “I worked there for years and then gathered the courage to start out on my own 12 years later in 2012,” said Babbar who quickly brushed her knowledge of beauty with some weekly courses on hairstyling, dermatology and nail styling.
Today, the sole earner for her family, a single mother, she has arrived on the business scene in a modest way, providing a decent living for her daughters and making sure they are on the path to university education. “It was a struggle for me to succeed without qualifications, but circumstances left me with no choice. I persevered to learn life skills that provided me a livelihood.
During the pandemic when salons closed down, it was a real challenge to survive. But my earlier days of hard training and resourcefulness helped me survive and stay afloat.
During the pandemic when salons closed down, it was a real challenge to survive. But my earlier days of hard training and resourcefulness helped me survive and stay afloat. I was able to retain most of my clients who have returned after the salon reopened post lockdown. I learnt most of my lessons from the university of life. But for my daughters I want them to get university degrees and have a choice of career in life after they are qualified suitably.”