Disability no bar for this 14-yr-old Qatari Instagram star

Filed on December 14, 2016 | Last updated on December 14, 2016 at 06.12 am
Disability no bar for this 14-yr-old Qatari Instagram star

Shaikh Mohammed talking to Ghanim Al Muftah at the Arab Social Media Influencers Summit in Dubai on Tuesday. - Wam

Ghanim and his twin Ahmed Al Muftah at the Arab Social Media Influencers Summit. —Photo by Neeraj Murali

With almost one million followers on Instagram, the teenager has turned heads with his accomplishments at a young age.

Qatari social media influencer Ghanim Al Muftah, 14, is at peace with his disability. "I can hide in small places, but can you?" he asks with a smile.

With almost one million followers on Instagram, the teenager has turned heads with his accomplishments at a young age. One of a twin, Al Muftah was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare disorder which impairs the development of the lower spine.

Today, he is the youngest entrepreneur in Qatar with six branches of an ice cream company, operated by 60 employees. He is also a swimmer, ice skater, professional scuba diver and mountain climber, and aspires to be a future Paralympian.

"I want to study political science to become Qatar's future prime minister," said Al Muftah, a 9th grade at Al Doha Academy. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Arab Social Media Influencers Summit. And previously climbing Oman's 3,000-metre Jebel Akhdar mountain, his eyes are set on Mount Everest.

"To me, social media has been my window to the world through which I was thankfully able to serve my religion, country and family while spreading positive vibes to people and showing them that humans have the ability to give, no matter what their circumstances are," said Al Muftah.

He noted that he wants to change people's perception of special needs and show their active participation in society. Being a Reach Out To Asia's (Rota) GoodWill Ambassador, he said he helped raise one million Qatari riyals to build schools for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

"I never felt different from others. The real disability is in the mind not the body," said Al Muftah.

Two is better than one

Speaking to Khaleej Times, his mother said she knew one of her twins will be born with the disability, yet she refused to undergo an abortion. And she named him Ghanim, which means 'winner' in Arabic.

"Ghanim and his brother (Ahmed) have brought happiness to my life from the first day," she said.

"The difficulty doesn't lie in my son's disability, but in society. We adapted to his ability, and he's accepting his own limits, so why can't people accept it?"

His mother added that she allowed him to undertake different challenges to discover what he wants. "As a child, (Ghanim) wanted to try everything, and I let him try to see for himself what he can or cannot do."

If he couldn't practice a certain task, she said she would show him other alternatives. To that, Al Muftah said: "When I dreamed to be a soldier to defend my country, but failed an attempt to hold a weapon, she told me my real weapon was my tongue that I can use to motivate others to be positive."

And for Al Muftah, nothing is impossible. "It is always a double advantage for me: Overcoming some people's looks and disbelief in me, while motivating them to reach the best of their abilities. I'm patient and I love life," said Al Muftah.


Sherouk Zakaria

"Born and raised in UAE, Sherouk Zakaria is a Senior Correspondent at Khaleej Times. Joined since May 2016, she covers Dubai Municipality, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), special events and humanitarian issues. Her choice of journalism as a career stems from her passion of telling people's stories and writing to inspire or make a difference. In her free time, she's an occasional theater and film actress. Sherouk received her BA in Mass Communications from the American University in Sharjah in 2013. Before joining Khaleej Times, she was a senior lifestyle/entertainment editor for a magazine in Dubai."

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