'So many ways to make money': Meet UAE expats who changed careers, found success

These young professionals have challenged the status quo and followed their passion


Waad Barakat

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Ahad Kamal (left) and Sara Avera. Photos: Supplied
Ahad Kamal (left) and Sara Avera. Photos: Supplied

Published: Sat 8 Jun 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 8 Jun 2024, 10:34 PM

Some young UAE residents are foregoing stability to pursue their passion. These young professionals – armed with university degrees – have challenged the status quo and embarked on a different career path.

It was scary at first, they said, but they kept going and later found success in life.

Sara Avera is one of them. After studying marketing and working in PR (public relations) for a couple of years, the 22-year-old Palestinian-Syrian expat decided to venture into crypto and online entrepreneurship.

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"I came from a business background,” she told Khaleej Times. “But during the Covid pandemic, I saw a lot of talk online about crypto and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). I didn't know anything about them, so I started researching and realised it was something that was not taught in my finance classes," she added.

Despite the risk of leaving a stable corporate job, Sara decided to dive into the crypto world full time, earlier this year.

"It was scary. We were taught to go to a university, get a degree, and have a stable job,” she shared, adding: “But I'm also young and single, so, I figured if I didn't take this risk now, I may never have a chance to do it."

She followed her gut instinct. Now, Avera runs her own crypto-focused online business, offering courses, mentorship, and daily trading. While income may not always be steady, she has built multiple revenue streams through her social media presence and brand partnerships.

"With the Internet, there are so many ways to make money online if you're willing to put in the time and effort," she said.

Defying family expectations

Mohamed Al Qasem, 28, who is originally from Sudan, came to Dubai initially to visit his best friend who works in real estate.

Seeing his friend – who also studied dentistry like him — Mohamed was inspired to stay and give real estate a try so he could raise some money to support himself when he flies to the US to continue his medical career.

“But that was three years ago,” he said. “It’s a different story now. I’ve realised I’m good at communicating with people and convincing them, so, I found myself in the world of real estate,” added the expat, who used the connection and network he made in the medical world to thrive in his new career.

Mohamed, who comes from a family of doctors, however, faced disapproval, especially from his mum who always wanted to see him as a doctor.

"I didn't tell my family the first year and also the second year. I told them it was only temporary so I could support myself," he said.

"But eventually, my mother started accepting it when she saw how comfortable I was in my new role and how passionate I’m about it. I explained to them how I love my new job and shared my plans with them,” he added.

“My career change isn't a culture my parents' generation was used to. However, when my parents saw the change and that I’m succeeding in my new path, they accepted it.”

"When I started, I did not know real estate. All my knowledge came from the medical field, but I learnt it on the job. I enjoy the sales aspect and the thrill of closing deals," he added.

Passion over pressure

For some, the shift came smoothly but for others, it took many paths to finally land where their comfort zone is and where their real talent really belongs. This was the case for Ahad Kamal, a 27-year-old Dubai resident.

"I studied engineering for almost a year and a half. I realised it wasn't what I wanted. I always liked advertising, but I was young and didn't have enough knowledge to decide. So, I switched to marketing and made the right decision," he said.

Ahad initially found it difficult sharing his decision with his family. He said: "I was 19 then, and there was a lot of pressure from my family – it's either I would become a doctor or engineer. When I told my parents, they said 'We just want you to succeed.' They thought I wouldn't succeed."

Despite following his passion, graduating in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic made him question his decision. "It was difficult to find a job. I had a marketing degree but no experience. I walked through 10 interviews but they offered only unpaid internships."

Desperate and willing to work for free, he initially thought: 'I'm going to do something in sales, even though it's not what I wanted to do.'

But over time, the situation improved. Ahad shared: "I closed my first sale deal after six months, and everything went well out for me since then. To date, I've closed big deals and got promoted to sales director."

Reflecting on his journey, Ahad said: "I always imagined I would graduate, find a job, and work a 9-6 job in marketing for the rest of my life. But my life has been completely different. And I liked it.”


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