Sultan Al-Qassimi writes excellent columns for The National.

This column struck a chord.

Whenever it’s a Westerner or Emirati being featured in a newspaper or magazine by dint of them having started a business, they are always called ‘entrepreneurs’. I admire those people who have started their own schwarma shop, clothing business, ice cream delivery round or bakery in Dubai. I enjoy the magazine features, generally accompanied by pictures of people looking serious and crossing their arms and I sometimes wonder if I could do the same thing myself.

We are surrounded in the UAE, however, by people from India, Pakistan and elsewhere, who have started their own cafes, restaurants, tea stalls, laundries, bakeries, garages, fixing fixing companies, IT consultancies and so on. These guys are also entrepreneurs, often succeeding in the face of far more adversity – lack of capital, lack of alternatives, lack of education, racial stereotyping and the like. Despite the bureaucratic and financial hurdles they have succeeded, the key factor being that they had no choice but to. These guys are entrepreneurs in the truest sense and we shouldn’t overlook them.

The same goes for the UK. A trendy bar or restaurant is run by ‘a young entrepreneur’. The Balti House round the corner, founded in 1973 after its owner arrived in Britain after getting kicked out of East Africa, qualifications unrecognised, far from home, with no leg up to speak of, taking his place in the local community – that’s entrepreneurship that also deserves to be recognised.


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