Majed Al Suwaidi, 36, is the managing director for Dubai Internet City (DIC), which is the Mena region’s largest ICT hub and includes the In5 innovation centre. He also manages Dubai Outsource Zone, a hub for the outsourcing industry. He began at DIC as director of sales in 2006 and became managing director in October 2013. He previously worked at Emirates airline as a national field support officer from 2003.
What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?
Spending time with my three children, two boys and a girl aged nine, seven and two – and also with my wife and extended family. The kids have a hectic week of schooling so for these two days their focus is on having fun, whether it’s a full day out or working on some projects at home with them. We held a class on coding for kids recently at In-5, so I brought them here to get involved, because I think if you want to know if something works or not, you have to try it yourself. My boy was interested, my girl said ‘yes it’s nice’ but when she got in the car afterwards, she said to her mother ‘mum, it was very boring’ – so I know who to bring next time to the classes. I believe coding is a language. Today, people learn Arabic and English and I also advocate kids learning coding as an additional language.
What’s your most indulgent habit?
I love sport – football to be specific. I don’t have a special team, I leave my options open depending on how the leagues work. I also indulge myself in tinkering – building small models, and trying to figure out how things work. Fixing things and putting things together takes up a lot of my time.
What can’t you live without?
Family. They are the reason why I am where I am today, my wife and children are my cornerstone.
What’s your go-to gadget?
That’s my iPhone. Not this one, the other one in my pocket. I have two mobiles, but my iPhone 6 is my go-to. I’m looking forward to an upgrade when it comes.
What was the lowest point in your career?
I wouldn’t put it as the lowest point but I think throughout my career, I think like any person starting a career its always been challenging and exciting at certain points but what I take out of it is what the learnings were, which were quite critical throughout my career. .
What advice would you offer people in your business?
Not in my business – you cannot open another Internet City. But what I can say is this. As part of what we see, because we see a lot of companies, a lot of individuals starting companies through In5 and through DIC and through all the other branches that we have – we see one thing is that people with a strong drive actually make it through the initial phases of starting up a company because this is the hardest part of the equation. The first six months, the first year are the hardest and people who don’t have that drive will always stop along the way and say ‘it’s not working’ or if it is working, they will self-assess too much. In this case, we believe don’t be too critical on yourself. Let it move, see what’s happening and if for whatever unfortunate reason it doesn’t work, at least you are one step closer to making it work the next time. We promote people creating businesses so we say take advantage of what you have. Build the first business. Try it. If it doesn’t work, its not a very big deal.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
More or less I’m quite an organised person so I have time for everything. Business life today never stops, but it quietens down in the evenings.I don’t overdo it – after 7pm I try to be clear of all my work duties but until then, I’m open to business.
If you could swap jobs with anyone who would it be?
I would not swap with anyone.
What do you have on your desk at work?
My laptop. It’s a Lenovo laptop. We need to upgrade – we don’t have as fancy as Apple! Unfortunately going through IT to get an Apple laptop on my desk is a task.
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