Hosting an Apple iPhone launch in the Sultanate is his grand plan and change is what inspires him. Imad al Khaifi shares with Alvin Thomas his life in Toronto and dreams for the Sultanate.
There are several Facebook pages that exist solely for the purposes of motivating individuals. Goalcast, The Master Shift and The Secret are a few examples of those that I have stumbled upon recently. But something tells me that my interviewee for this week is just as – or perhaps even a touch more – motivating than these pages collectively.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Imad al Khaifi, the senior business development executive for the new Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC). While his job title comes with its own heft, Imad takes it all in with his arms wide open – and that’s what the young Omani says is the secret to his success.
But I’m jumping the gun, here.
Our meeting point is at the OCEC – a location that I have grown to admire for its sheer volume of events – and without any haste we settle down into one of the halls for a chat.
Born and raised in the Sultanate, Imad proudly says he spent his early days studying here before making a shift to Toronto, in Canada.
“I was supposed to be going there (Toronto) for school but I decided to work there, instead,” the young Omani tells me.
“I worked in many, many places. And I started at the age of 18, in 2008.
“I started my career flipping burgers,” Imad tells me, with a smile on his face. “Then I moved into a Lebanese restaurant doing the same thing.”
But, a few months later, Imad’s interaction skills got him a job as a sales representative for a communications company
based in the country, before making his way up the job chain and landing the position of associate marketing manager.
In 2012, he moved back to his home country and took up the post of a sales representative at Ooredoo before making a move to Oman Sail and then finally to his current position at OCEC.
Quite a rapid shift, right?
But his decision to move to the OCEC, he says, came with its own set of challenges.
“One trend that we see in Oman is that if you like something you just stick to it. We do not like to change.
“So, with the help of OMRAN (tourism development wing of Oman) and some high-profile events, we slowly pushed those challenges aside. This means that we are currently hitting our goal to place the OCEC at the forefront of events, not only in Oman and the GCC but also on an international scale.”
Imad then sidetracks to tell me that the team is playing host to one of Oman’s largest women empowerment meets, which is due to begin soon.
The enthusiasm in his voice is a testament to his respect and regard for women; a trait he says he picked up from his “beloved” mother, who raised him alone.
“I was having conversations with my mom when I was in Canada, and I would tell her that my life was difficult and how I would not be able to make it.
“But she gave me the legs to walk through the difficult times. She made me realise that all I had to do was believe in myself and do what I felt was right.
“And that’s why I sit here today,” Imad says in a heavy tone.
“Without her, I would not be here. She taught me the value of patience and that after every difficulty comes ease. It’s something a youngster like me could never have learned on my own.
This, Imad points out, is the very virtue he likes teaching and propagating to the youth of Oman.
“Success is a matter of being patient. To be honest, the youth of Oman brings a lot of value to the table: we have fresh minds and ideas that can be put to use for the benefit of the country.
“Once I got hired in the OCEC, I was given some brilliant training from the senior management. We (the youth) know that we are the face of Oman. This is also why the 30-year-old Omani believes in giving opportunities to the youth of the country.”
The point is further proven when Imad reveals his grand plan: to host an Apple iPhone launch in the Sultanate.
“I wouldn’t say it is impossible, but it will take a lot of hard work. Bringing such an event to Oman will be more than just showing the management OCECs facilities and offerings; we will have to sell the country and give them whatever they expect from hosting such an event outside their home turf.
“I would need to do a lot of study on this as it is not an easy thing to do. “My first step would be to get in touch with the provider of Apple products in Oman and thereby establish our relationship with the management in Dubai.
“It’s ambitious but attainable. Hosting such an event would not only bring international attention to the OCEC but also to our country.
“Oman is a beautiful and peaceful country. And I believe it is up to us youngsters to step out of the norm and set the targets higher,” he tells me, before we wrap up our quick but fruitful interview.
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