“Happiness isn’t just how we measure our success; it’s also the key to it.”
Sheikha Dalal is on a mission to help female entrepreneurs in Kuwait. Inspired by her husband, Fahad Al Sufayeh, she is committed to women empowerment and dedicated to supporting ambitious women in the MENA region. Together with Fahad’s vast business experience, Sheikha’s belief in herself and her vision will support the next generation of entrepreneurs; a lasting legacy for this extraordinary Power Couple.
Thank you very much for accepting our interview. It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to sit face-to-face for our magazine readers. Please tell our readers, who is Sheikha Dalal Humood Al Sabah?
Sheikha Dalal: Thank you for asking. I am a passionate person by nature towards meaningful things in life. I love my country and my family. I come from a loving family who always supported me in my decisions and choices since childhood. Being the youngest daughter in my family, my eldest brother, the Governor Sheikh Faisal Humood Al Sabah, is one of my idols for his achievements and his dedicated hard work for the love of our country. I am a Kuwaiti woman who wants to be remembered for making a difference in the lives of our new generation in Kuwait by inspiring them and showing support to them; especially to our Kuwaiti women entrepreneurs, empowering our youth to see them overcome all obstacles and barriers to reach their highest potential in their lives. I want to see Kuwaiti youth shine for their creative natural talents around the globe.
This is such a beautiful answer and meaningful words. I hear you have great love for business. Is this true Shiekha Dalal?
Sheikha Dalal: Thank you for bringing this up. I believe all Kuwaiti people are born with the talent of business in their blood from our great ancestors. We are all business people deep in our souls since the beginning of time. We have a long history in trading. I always loved business since an early age. After marrying my husband, Fahad Al Sufayeh, he encouraged me and made me discover I had many talents. As my loving partner he always explained to me the future we see is the future we get. With his love, guidance and support I realized and discovered my hidden talents, my ambitions and instincts. I watched him always do business with international companies overseas at different hours of the day with different business leaders in different time zones. He would be on the phone discussing important issues and this motivated me to seek the same in my business goals. I was passionate to achieve success for the purpose of giving back to my country. This was the seed which gave birth to starting the movement I always dreamed of since an early age, to help Kuwaiti women entrepreneurs in our community.
I would like to know, who is Fahad Al Sufayeh? Can you tell us about your family background?
Fahad: Thank you for asking me this question. I am the son of the diplomat, Mr. Khalid Humood Al Sufayeh, one of the first diplomats and politicians in Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. My dad was very patriotic and loved Kuwait with a passion. He always went on political missions representing Kuwait around the world. I grew up in many countries because of my father’s political missions abroad. The Al Sufayeh family has a great rich heritage; its roots are from the Al Dosari Tribe. My ancestors were one of the first families and tribes to live in Kuwait during the 1800s, before oil was discovered and before Kuwait got its independence on June 19th 1961 (from United Kingdom). My family name has great respect, tradition and heritage. Also, the Al Sufayeh family has extended relations with the Kuwaiti Ruling Royal Family through the former Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Salam Al Sabah, who ruled from 1965 -1977. The former Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah’s wife, is from the Al Adwani Family. She is the sister of my father’s mother and my grandmother.
Can you tell us about your business background?
Fahad: I have over 18 years experience in launching and developing new businesses. I have earned repeated successes which have established me as an entrepreneur in starting and growing new businesses. As the founder and chairman of Fahad & Omid Company I have provided strategic direction and executive leadership to my subsidiary companies in rapid growth opportunities. Over the years I have worked directly with international companies who are leaders in their sectors. My primary company goal was to always exceed and seize far beyond our clients’ expectations in every aspect of our work. My innovative and skilled team consists of highly educated experts with a successful background within their field. Our group of companies’ services and products are being distributed to a large diversified group of individuals, corporations and governments. We have established a strong distribution network in the local and Middle Eastern markets. Our objective is to create growth opportunities for our international business partners yielding significant results. We have been named in the media as one of the fastest growing sales and marketing companies in year 2006. As the chairman of the Fahad & Omid General Trading Company, myself and my American business partner, Omid Rahravani from Los Angeles, are proud to be the exclusive advisors for the Richardson-based company Prodea Systems Inc, owned by the celebrity astronaut Anousheh Ansari who was the first Muslim female space tourist. She is one of the richest Iranian American women in the world with a net worth estimate of $750 million.
As the chairman of the Fahad & Omid General Trading company, why is your organization a loyal supporter of Prodea Systems Inc, investing heavily on marketing and promoting this particular corporation introducing its track record of success and their services in the MENA region?
Fahad: Our company did indeed invest a fortune in marketing Prodea Systems Inc, highlighting its achievements and introducing it to our territory. My company is always searching to introduce the latest technologies to Kuwait and Middle East. I always encourage and welcome international companies who want to have a presence in Kuwait. I am a big fan of creative technology which will benefit our region and help transform our way of living. Prodea Systems Inc is one of the world’s leading corporations in the IoT (Internet of Things) sector. IoT services platform specializes in connecting people and their devices to the internet with the goal of improving quality of life. With over $100 million and a 12 year head start, Prodea Systems Inc tackles the IoT with smart device services, smart home services, remote patient monitoring, e-government and enterprise. Prodea Systems Inc enables service providers, enterprises, manufacturers and governments to quickly add and integrate white-label, value-added services and its best-of-breed IoT Solutions Provider partners to their offerings across smart home, smart city, security, digital health, energy, e-government and other vertical markets. Prodea Systems Inc estimates the worldwide market for IoT products and services could be as much as $5 trillion by the year 2021 (published on July 26th 2017 in an article North Texas Technology Visionary Anousheh Ansari’s Next Big Move on NBC Dallas Forth Worth).
Who is Anousheh Ansari? Tell us more about her.
Fahad: Anousheh Ansari and her husband, Hamid Ansari, who is her business partner in Prodea Systems Inc, are an extremely talented business power couple with an amazing vision beyond the imagination. On September 18th 2006 Anousheh Ansari became the first Muslim female space tourist (as I mentioned earlier) and she is one of the richest Iranian American women. Her previous business accomplishments include serving as co-founder and CEO of Telecom Technologies Inc (TTI). She was listed in Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40 list in 2001 and honored by Working Woman as the winner of the 2000 National Entrepreneurial Excellence award. Anousheh Ansari also co-founded The Billion Dollar Fund for Women and is the CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation.
The XPRIZE Foundation is one of the leading foundations in the world. Please tell our readers more about the importance of this famous foundation and the effect it could have on our future?
Fahad: Anousheh Ansari is the CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation. Ansari, along with her family, sponsored the organization’s first competition, the Ansari XPRIZE, a $10 million competition that ignited a new era for commercial space flight. Since then, she has served on XPRIZE’s Board of Directors. XPRIZE Foundation has designed and launched seventeen prizes in the domain areas of Space, Oceans, Learning, Health, Energy, Environment, Transportation, Safety and Robotics. The $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private spaceflight, spurred an industry and created exponential breakthroughs. Since then, XPRIZE Foundation has launched over $140 million in prize purses, including the $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE, the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XPRIZE. Each of these prizes has created an industry-changing technology that brings us closer to a better, safer, more sustainable world. The benefactor of the Global Learning XPRIZE, Elon Musk, is the CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)
I believe that Omid Rahravani is your business partner and a childhood friend, is that right?
Fahad: Yes, we both attended the same high school in Kuwait. We had many adventures exploring the world together in our early age. Omid Rahravani is a Persian American from Los Angeles. He entered the world of business and investments because of his father who was a successful trusted businessman who moved to Kuwait in the 1950s. His father taught him the basics of business. At the age of 18, he travelled to Miami, Florida to achieve a higher degree of studies in Business. Omid Rahravani is a successful entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience in business development and has been a trusted strategic advisor for very high profile sophisticated investors and members of the Ruling Royal Families. At the beginning of his career, decades ago, he started as a Financial Advisor. He joined the prestigious Wall Street brokerage firm Morgan Stanley. He is a dynamic results-oriented leader with a strong track record of performance. His skills and leadership resulted in our company being chosen by the Italian Ambassador and Trade Commissioner as ranking 5th out of the top 20 companies in Kuwait to attend the Business Forum in Milan Italy. In 2007 our company was chosen by the Ambassador of Italy in Kuwait to attend the 46th Salone Internazional Del Mobile in Milan.
I am curious, why did you name your company the Fahad & Omid Company?
Fahad: Many people ask me this question, because it is not a common name for a Kuwaiti company. I named it after our first names because of my future vision. I wanted my company to be recognized globally to concentrate on American and foreign companies introducing their services to Kuwait and the Middle East region. Most leading global companies are named after the owners such as Goldman Sachs, Protector and Gamble, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Patek Phillipe, etc. This is the main reason I decided to name my company in such way, to create a legacy.
To grow a company, does it just depend on great people and products?
Fahad: Of course, you need to have great people and you must be a big believer in teamwork. It is very important to have unique products to grow your business, but if you are not using the proper technology to implement those strategies, you are not realizing nor considering the full potential of your business.
How did you reach this stage and how did you gain knowledge of all these business strategies?
Fahad: That is an admirable question. It was not easy for my company to start off; we had many rejections and hard times. I always believed that dreams and dedication is a powerful combination. I never gave up, despite all the odds being against me. My dedication and strong beliefs is the secret that led me to success. The experience and undergoing past actions that led me here were my greatest mentors.
There is a massive amount of competition in the global market and countless people fail in various businesses. What advice can you give them to sustain from failing?
Fahad: The advice I can offer is to always stay positive. Failure is the opportunity to begin all over again but do so more intelligently and intellectually the next time.
What do you do when your company endures certain obstacles?
Fahad: When we endure certain obstacles, we are forced to continue to believe in our goals and to keep our faith strong. We never, ever give up and that evaporates any doubts of failure that might cross our paths in the future. We faced many challenges and obstacles that got in the way of achieving our goals and, like every other successful business, we always remember that facing our challenges with action is the key to success. We believe that only the people who can see the invisible can accomplish the impossible!
Sheikha Dalal Humood Al Sabah, you are a great believer in Woman Empowerment and giving back to your community by working on setting up your own non-profit foundation and collaborating with the top international foundations around the world. Can you give us more details?
Sheikha Dalal: First, I would like to congratulate Anousheh Ansari, the co-founder of The Billion Dollar Fund for Women, that was announced in October 2018 at the Tri Hita Karana (THK) Forum on Sustainable Development in Bali, with a goal of investing $1 billion in women-founded companies by 2020. I’m working on setting up a Women Empowerment awards. It will be a non-profit foundation that will be created initially to support women in the MENA region. We are expected to reach more than 100 women, helping them to grow scalable businesses, accompany them through the process of delivering their initiatives and addressing the key challenges impacting on the growth of female led business initiatives. We are planning to offer programs on women empowerment, entrepreneurship and business development and provide various platforms to revisit and reconstruct better foundational beliefs and ideas on gender issues. Our goal is to sign a partnership protocol with the World Bank and the United Nations and other international institutions on women’s empowerment, inclusion, diversity and gender policy. We are also now in talks with celebrities in Hollywood who have successful non-profit organizations to team up with us to bring my vision to reality. Also, myself and my husband, Fahad Al Sufayeh, are in the process of launching another non-profit organization called Al Khair. It’s a non-profit organization that offers Disaster and Humanitarian Relief programs which will respond to major global disasters and humanitarian crises. Al Khair’s plan is to collaborate with private-sector partners, government agencies and relevant NGOs to help prepare for future disasters and to work on the initiatives within the Global Health Security Agenda. Al Khair will be committed to preparing for and responding to future natural disasters and humanitarian crises, diligently maximizing the impact of our financial, technological and human resources.
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
said by Winston S. Churchill.
As a power couple, how do you see the future of Kuwait?
Fahad and Sheikha Dalal: We believe the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. We always say ‘self-trust is the first secret of success.’ We would like to have this opportunity to introduce and educate the world’s international investors and organizations to Kuwait and to our beloved idol, his Highness the Amir Of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah’s VISION for 2035 ‘NEWKUWAIT’ to transform Kuwait into a financial and trade hub attractive to investors, where the private sector leads the economy, creating competition and promoting production efficiency, under the umbrella of enabling government institutions, providing adequate infrastructure, advanced legislation and inspiring business environment.
As a Kuwaiti power couple, how do you measure your success?
Sheikha Dalal: While I’m incredibly grateful that I get to meet fascinating people and change makers, there’s nowhere I feel more content or special than when I’m with my family. My family is my greatest achievement. When they are happy, I am happy, and that makes me feel so successful. I know I’m fortunate to live an extraordinary life, meet the most extraordinary people, and attended the most amazing events but there’s never been a point in my career in which I’ve felt I’ve truly made it. The way I see it, life is all about striving and growing. I never want to have made it. I want to continue making it! One of the things that makes us most happy as a power couple is being able to give back to our community, which is why we are working to start our non-profit foundations, Al Khair and women empowerment awards, to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and create real lasting change in the MENA region.
What does happiness mean for you as a couple?
Fahad and Sheikha Dalal: Happiness isn’t just how we measure our success; it’s also the key to it. Most people would assume our business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought us happiness. But we know we are successful, wealthy and connected because we are happy. We believe that happiness should be everyone’s goal. Life’s too short to waste your time doing things that don’t light your fire. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, or aren’t having a lot of fun – despite the fact that you’re making a lot of money or rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous – then it’s time to move on to the something that does make you happy.
Do you think being friends with your spouse is an important part of marriage?
Fahad: This is a very important factor in every relationship. Of course, being friends with your spouse and seeing her as team partner, loving her unconditionally, is the most important part of any marriage. It is very important to always appreciate your spouse, remind them that they are very important in your life, compliment them and remind them that they are the key to your happiness. My advice for the new generation is money you lose or waste you can always bring back but the time you waste without true love in your life is something you can never bring back.
What advice do you have for couples and entrepreneurs?
Fahad and Sheikha Dalal: You can’t reach your full potential until you learn to live your life in the present. No amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future. It’s impossible to be happy if you’re constantly somewhere else, unable to fully embrace the reality (good or bad) of this very moment. To help yourself live in the moment, you must do two things. 1. Accept your past. If you don’t make peace with your past, it will never leave you and, in doing so, it will create your future. 2. Accept the uncertainty of the future. Worry has no place in the here and now. As Mark Twain once said, ‘Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.’ Remind yourself every morning when you wake up that each day is a gift and you’re bound to make the most of the blessing you’ve been given. The moment you start acting like life is a blessing is the moment it will start acting like one. After all, a great day begins with a great mindset.
It’s been a great journey interviewing a great power couple like you. You inspire so many couples and entrepreneurs who would be thrilled and honored to walk in your footsteps. Last but not least, are there any last words you would like to say to CP magazine or our readers?
There are less ambitious people and there are more ambitious people than us. If you spend time with the ones that are less driven than you, your average will go down, and with it your success. However, if you spend time with people more advanced than you, no matter how challenging that might be, you will be more successful. Take a look around yourself and see if you need to make any changes. Finally, we want to thank the CP Magazine team for giving us this opportunity to be in one of the leading advertisement magazines in Kuwait. We also want to thank all those who believed in us and supported us during our years of hard work until we became what we are now.