Emirati entrepreneur Anas Bukhash has an unmistakable passion for business.
Anas wears Breitling Chronomat B01 42 stainless steel - copper
Featuring Breitling’s Chronomat Collection
His ambition and drive have led the 39-year-old to start many successful business ventures including his digital marketing agency; Bukhash Brothers, as well as co-founding Ahdaaf Sports Club a one-stop-shop that bridges the gap between communities through sport and the newest editions to his portfolio; Chalk hair and beauty Salon in Dubai’s Al Serkal Avenue and Buka; a high-end trendy streetwear label that explores his love for fashion. And if all that wasn’t enough, earlier this year Anas embarked on a new journey by launching ABtalks. This digital YouTube show that sees the entrepreneur turn presenter as he invites some of the region’s interesting talents to sit down for one-to-one in-depth discussions about their personal lives, business and the future.
Anas works alongside his brother Harith who too has the entrepreneurial spirit of the family. They are a family that loves to challenge the norm and break traditional codes and barriers with their ideas and it has so far, been a blessing. As well as being a successful businessman, Anas is a father of two and a man about town in the UAE who rubs shoulders with celebrities both internationally and locally. After growing up in Dubai he travelled to the United States to study and expanded his passion for sport by playing semi-pro football. This ignited his passion for sport and led to him co-founding Ahdaaf Sports Club his first business venture and the start of a blossoming career.
Over this past year, the businesses have seen many challenges like most in the UAE, but Anas has kept the positivity throughout, constantly looking for new ways and methods to provide solutions that people are really looking for today. His ABtalks shows are reaching up to 40,000 views on Instagram and Youtube and are allowing the businessman to expand into a new sector and fulfil his passion of becoming a top interviewer. And while he has been focusing on this latest venture it doesn’t stop the Entrepreneurial engine from running. We discover the new concepts on the horizon as well as discussing why he is so inspired by the UAE.
How have you spent this year and adapted your businesses to the changing times?
It’s definitely been a very strange year for all of humanity, it’s the first time in my lifetime that I’ve seen something that affects everyone in the world and we are seeing human beings empathising with each other no matter who they are or where they are from. It has been a year of both positives and negatives. I do think it has given us the slap on the head we needed to slow down and not get so carried away with life, achievements, titles and money. It gave us a chance to revise our priorities, which is one of the positives. I feel sad for a lot of businesses who have struggled this year and a lot of people have lost their jobs which is extremely sad, but hopefully, things can start to look brighter and these people will have a forced opportunity to start a new chapter. Sometimes we need something to force us into new things.
Personally, my goal was to be as positive and focused as possible and not wallow in the misery of it all, so I worked out like crazy! I was stuck at home and I was thinking about my different teams and companies and the responsibility I had to ensure that they got their salaries and they don’t lose their jobs so I wanted my mind to stay sharp so that I could assess what was possible and ensure that we still made enough money to pay rent and bills and most importantly to pay the salaries of our staff. Most months we have managed to break even and pay our staff on time at a time where everyone really needs their salary. The way we worked was to be as creative as possible. We looked at what kind of content people actually need during this time: safety videos, social media campaigns on health, information on COVID etc. And once you start thinking differently about these things and change your mindset you can start to be successful even during the most difficult times. When it comes to ABtalks we were fortunate that we had created a lot of content before COVID so I already had a lot of videos to share, which was a great opportunity for us. At Chalk, we closed for a month and then we opened at 30 per cent capacity and we were immediately fully booked.
What does UAE National Day mean to you?
The UAE National Day is a beautiful celebration of the diversity of this country. I have travelled a lot and I have never seen a country that has so many nationalities, religions and cultures living alongside each other in such a peaceful state. It’s beautiful to see and I don’t think we sit down and realise often enough how nice it is. Secondly, the UAE National Day allows us to appreciate just how much this country has accomplished in less than fifty years. It’s nice to see how far we have come as a country and think about how far we can go.
What is the message of the UAE that you want to spread to others?
I think it trickles down from the leadership all the way to us as individuals. The UAE is a country that has proven that with strong leadership and a good vision, anything is possible. The legacy of our leaders will always be there because they have touched everyone with their vision and this has filtered down to every Emirati and expat that lives here. My message would be that it’s a beautiful country and people who have already witnessed it will know that. It has taught us that anything is possible. Not in a cheesy way but it has shown us that we can do anything. People come here and they really do achieve their dreams. I think the United States marketed their country very well when they presented it as the “land of dreams” but I think it’s saturated now and it’s time for a new land of dreams and I think the UAE could be that. The great thing about the UAE is that if you have a unique idea, there’s a huge chance that you are the first because everything is new, but if you did it in London or New York, for example, the chances are someone will have already had that same idea and that is a great concept to have.
How do you think the younger generation in the UAE has become more entrepreneurial and daring?
There is definitely an entrepreneurial spirit and I think the more people are seeing that you can actually export an idea rather than import it from another nation there is more desire to follow through with ideas in the UAE. The more the younger generation are seeing examples of this, the more they have confidence that they can do it. If you always think that the entrepreneurs are abroad, it’s difficult to personally relate. So I absolutely think the new generation will have that gutsy approach more so than my generation, because we are helping to build that confidence for them.
You are of course very close to your brothers – what are the challenges and benefits of working as a family business?
The brother that works with me is Harith and he is by my side in everything! To be honest I don’t recommend working with family in general. It’s very tricky because there are a lot of emotions coming together and different types of relationships to manage. You can’t shout at a family member in the office and then go home and have a nice dinner. So it can be a bit tricky and honestly I wouldn’t recommend it generally, but if it does work, it can be hugely successful. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs started out with their best friends or family members – so when it actually works, it really works. But it doesn’t always work! I would suggest clearly defining the boundaries if you are going to work with someone close to you because if things are not clear, you are bound to come up against problems.
How do you think your heritage has inspired you in what you do today?
No doubt being born in the UAE has inspired me. My childhood was spent in the sand there was literally nothing else. I would play in the sand every single day and we didn’t have any of these towers that we have today. The UAE was very different when I was born in the eighties and I think witnessing all of the development happen is of course inspiring. When you see things coming to life I think, whether consciously or subconsciously, it imprints on your mind and you have this ideology that your thoughts can transform into reality. That’s what this country has done and that’s why as Emiratis we are inspired to do the same.
You are a man of many roles, how would you sum up your professional life?
In simple terms, I do things that I love and that I’m good at. I think it’s a magical combination. A lot of people do things they love but they’re not necessarily good at them and that’s when they get disappointed, but if you have enough self-awareness and you have the right people around you who tell you what you’re good at and what you’re not, then you have a great combination and a huge chance of success.
What is a message that you would send to young Emiratis hoping to achieve their dreams?
I would ask people to try. It’s a minority who know what their passion is at a young age and if you don’t try anything how would you know? The only way to find out what you love doing and what you’re good at is to try. Secondly, it’s important to remember that some really good things in life take time and effort and you can’t have shortcuts.
We know you are very social media savvy – how do you think new technology and social media is helping the development of businesses in the UAE today?
Social media has its positives and negatives of course, but it is a huge blessing to the world. When I was young and I wanted to travel, I would go to the book store and buy a book about the city I planned to visit. Today, I can go onto social media or Google and immediately know everything about the place I’m visiting. It’s beautiful how this large earth has become a small village and we are all so connected. These days you can contact almost anyone through social media and it has made everything so accessible. For my businesses, social media is a great marketing tool and it’s something I use a lot to showcase my brand.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
It’s so funny because when people ask me that question it diverts me to an emotional answer which is being a father. Suddenly my kids pop into my mind. Being a father is a beautiful thing, it’s one of the most meaningful things to do in life. Even if you can’t have kids I really think you should consider adopting, there are a lot of great kids who need good parents and that’s something that I would love to do one day. In terms of career, I would say my biggest achievement is being my own boss and owning my own time.
If you could give a message to your younger self what would it be?
I don’t like to go back into the past because if I did I would alter my present, but something that I wanted to do at a young age was to become a footballer. I’m quite sure I had the potential to be a professional, I played at a high level, but circumstances meant it didn’t happen, so maybe I would push my younger self to try it, but not doing that also made me who and what I am today.
We love your style, how would you sum it up?
I just know that I’ve always wanted to do things my way. Even if I’m wearing a traditional kandura, I’ll do something a bit different and that’s my personality. I love fashion and I think clothes are an expression of our personality. You can tell so much about a person by the way they dress and accessorise. So to sum up I would say my style is “subtle edginess” (something I stole from my clothing brand Buka!)
What can you tell us about your upcoming projects for the rest of the year and into 2021?
I really tried to stop being a serial entrepreneur and I did put the handbrake on for a while but then this year we came up with an idea and I have to do it! I kept preaching that I wouldn’t because I already had so much on my plate, but I guess I was fighting against my nature which is to create new brands. So we will start something in food and beverage soon and I think it will be very interesting. It’s a space my brother Harith has really wanted to go into for a few years and I think we finally have a nice idea. Other than keeping the businesses healthy and profitable and growing, I want to expand ABtalks. This is my focus now and I want to be regarded as the best interviewer in the world. That’s my ultimate goal. It’s something that I love and I see myself in that space in the future.
What is the biggest challenge you face in what you do?
Time management. I am quite good at it, but it is challenging. It’s really important to keep balance, which may differ from someone to another, but you have to get it right and prioritise. It’s important to have a holistic healthy life that balances everything.
What is the professional motto you live by?
Do something you love and what you’re really good at, if you combine these two you have a good chance of succeeding.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Curious, passionate and focused.
Who or what inspires you the most?
It would be a very boring answer but nobody, me challenging myself is what inspires me.
How would you like to greet the UAE on its 49th anniversary?
I just want to say congratulations on a beautiful country. We’ve done so much and achieved so much in the UAE and I wish it safety, prosperity and joy. These are all important things that represent this country.
By Lindsay Judge