This UAE resident first invested in a failed business, but is now a serial entrepreneur How Abu Dhabi-based Palestinian expat Mohamed Kilany, 39, transforms his passion for football into a business. “A failure is not the end of the journey; you always need to continue trying until you master something you are attempting to do.” This is what Mohamed Kilany, 39, a Palestinian expat residing in Abu Dhabi, tells his three kids when teaching them the value of never giving up and learning a skill.
Kilany brings home a new challenging game, like Jenga, to play with kids each week. “When the kids first played Jenga and knocked down the blocks, they would cry. After hundreds of attempts and not giving up, they eventually beat me,” he said. Life Lesson: The best investment is investing in children’s future
“I play with my kids, and we watch movies that have lessons to be learned. I let them explore areas they don’t learn in school, including vlogging, robotics, and others that enrich their creativity.”
He recalled that his daughter Lamar, nine years old, once asked him how much pocket money his father gave him when he was of her age. “She wanted to know if it was the same amount she receives now. She gets – Dh6.60 daily.
“I laughed and told her that what I received every week was equal to what she received in one day. I could barely manage to buy a chocolate bar or a sandwich at that time. After that story, she felt sorry for me and started to save her money, only spending a small amount of what she gets daily.” Kilany’s challenging upbringing
Kilany grew up with six siblings in a very low-income family, where his family had sold belongings to secure education for kids.
“Even though my parents did not have the privilege of continuing their education, they strongly believed in investing in our education. They always taught us that education is the true investment for the future.”
Kilany had faced a hard time during university because he wanted to pursue his degree in IT but realised that his parents could not secure more than 30 per cent of the tuition.
At that time, he had two choices, to give up on his dreams or stand up and find alternatives. “I chose the latter. I started looking for jobs to help pay for my tuition, eventually working three jobs simultaneously.
“On the weekends, I picked fruit as a source of income. I was a waiter at a restaurant in the evenings, and I also worked as a tutor for students to improve their computer skills. These three jobs helped me pay for the remainder of my university fees.” Life Lesson: Instead of complaining, try finding solutions to life’s problems
Although Kilany was an IT student, he didn’t own a computer for four years of university. “Each time I was about to give up, I would remind myself that no one would do it for me if I didn’t solve this problem.”
Instead of complaining about not having a PC, he convinced his friend in his village who had a computer to start studying together. “I would help him with homework, and we became seminar partners. I managed all my computer-related tasks by doing this and going to the university early in the morning to use the computer lab before my classes. “
These experiences made him stronger and taught him a valuable lesson that innovation is the key to solving challenges, and during a difficult time, you have two options: to complain or to act. He confronted those challenges, which ultimately helped him build an entrepreneurial spirit. How did your first job experience help you in the journey of being an entrepreneur?
Kilany’s first job was at a telecom company as a software engineer. He realised that all the employees leave at 4pm; while they were finishing their day, he had the energy after 4pm to learn new things.
“I would see if I could make the traditional process more straightforward by building software that could do that job more effectively. After five months of working there, I noticed that 15 employees were doing a data entry job that could be automated.”
“I started to stay after all the employees had left to learn new programming languages and search online for other global solutions that could automate the process. After another six months, I surprised my boss by presenting a robust application that I had developed that could achieve five times the customer orders […]
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