Mustafa abbas: CEO/FILMMAKER from UAE
Tell us about your journey as one of the pioneers in the Emirati Film Industry. How did it all start and how difficult was it to establish in the film industry?
It started in the 90s as a kid toying around with his friends on weekends with the home camera, and as this "hobby" went on, I realized that I cared far more about the process as well as the result than I had realized. I think in any film industry, getting in is the hardest part. Succeeding in any industry is another topic, of course. But with film, there are no clear entrances. So, the way I describe my start is, building my own door in a place where there was a wall, and opening it.
What do you prefer more writing or directing a film?
Writing is a very intimate process for me. I am alone, but don't feel alone. It feels a lot like listening, to the characters, to their journeys. It very much feels like observing, but in a much deeper sense, where you allow their story, their faces, their voices, their motives to come to you. Directing requires an equal amount of focus, but with the physical part. I would say writing has more "whys" and directing has more "hows". Although, they each have both of those.
Outside of films, you are a serial entrepreneur, tell us more about your brands.
So, I have started three businesses from scratch. The first one is Chivalry: Gentlemen's Salon, which I founded in 2013. It's located in Downtown Dubai. We have been voted as one of the top barbershops by GQ, Esquire, and TimeOut, and also won the Favourite Barbers award at the annual What's On awards. In 2017, I launched 35 Burgundy, an exclusive leather brand targeting people who appreciate quality leather and simple designs. It has made quite a buzz worldwide and the demand has been incredible. In 2020, I launched Aficionados PR & Comms to support businesses we believe in and make sure to take them to the level they deserve to be in the market.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur? Any piece of advice for someone who is just starting.
Don't. I'm just kidding. Well, what I have learnt is passion and purpose are two different things. Passion is fuel. The more fuel you'll have the smoother you'll pass the stop signs and road bumps and the more creative you'll be to getting around obstacles and detours. My advice is to make sure you are absolutely in love with the idea and make sure you know why you want to do it, what value you would like to add, and what problem you would like to solve. And this is something I have learnt the hard way and continuing to learn; after knowing the value you are adding to society, make sure to not forget what the business can do for you, as well.
Any upcoming projects that you are currently working on?
I am working on three film projects at the moment. All three are screenplays I have written. I will be producing two of them. And I will be directing one of them. It is a crime thriller, fully in Arabic, which is very exciting for me. I'll be sharing more news about each one in due time.