'Spend money on good debts': Dubai CEO reveals long-term plans for building personal wealth

The two types of debt you could accumulate are categorised as good debt and bad debt

By Melanie Swan

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Nada El Gazzar. Photo by Neeraj Murali
Nada El Gazzar. Photo by Neeraj Murali

Published: Wed 10 Apr 2024, 5:11 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Apr 2024, 10:35 AM

Nada El Gazzar has been in the UAE for 17 years and is now heading UpskillX Advisory & Coaching. The 38-year-old Egyptian expat has a holistic attitude towards money, understanding its impact not only on her financial well-being but the physical and mental benefits it has on her life as a whole.

How would you describe your relationship to money?

Money is essential for meeting our basic needs and to obtain the things we need to survive. Money also plays a significant role in education. The key to creating a healthy relationship with money is to treat it like you would any other relationship, with love, honesty, and time. By investing in your relationship with money, you’re investing in yourself. And that’s something to be proud of.

How do you think this relationship was formed?

I started doing many corporate internships during my school years at the German School in Egypt and started my first job at 17 during my college days. I learnt a lot from my daily communication at work and frequent discussions about money.

If you had to write a letter to money, what would you say?

Dear Money, I am grateful for all that I earn. I look forward to always changing my relationship with you in a positive way. I believe that happiness comes from a sense of fulfilment and purpose, which cannot always be bought through you. Strong relationships, meaningful work, and personal growth are few examples of my sources of happiness.

What good or bad lessons about money management did you learn from your mother?

I have learnt to have open and honest communication about my relationship with money. What is your money trying to say? What are you telling your money? Are your financial habits aligned with your goals? Are you spending more than you’re making? Are you drowning in debt?

What do you think has been the most profound experience you’ve had so far in relation to money?

I have learned that we all have good and bad days, especially when it comes to our finances. You should you celebrate your money wins, big and small. And when things don’t go as planned or you have a particularly bad money day, give yourself some grace and learn to forgive yourself.

If you could give your child one piece of advice about money now, what would that be?

I would teach children to always ensure protection against emergencies and to adopt the entrepreneurial mindset at a young age.

What do you value spending money on?

The two types of debt you could accumulate are categorised as good debt and bad debt. An investment that could improve your long-term wealth is seen as ‘good’ debt – such as university student loans or mortgages. On the other hand, purchases — such as cars, designer clothing and phones — are bad debt because they will depreciate in value.

What is your long-term goal or dream which is pegged to your finances?

In the long term, looking after my physical and mental health really does have an impact on my savings. With this in mind, I always ask myself, how could I adopt a healthier lifestyle? One thing one must prepare for is retirement. It might seem like a long way off but it’s never too soon to start contributing towards this massive future expense.


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