Tariq Al Gurg is the chief executive of the Dubai Cares charity. He is a 40-year old Emirati, educated at the higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai. He began his career at Emirates NBD before moving on to become the chief executive of Meraas Properties in 2008. He joined Dubai Cares in 2009.
What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?
I usually use my weekends to unwind at home and spend quality time with my family. Weekends give me the opportunity to play with my children, have dinner with my wife and go out as a family. I also make some time to see my friends and catch up on my favourite TV shows. At times, I use the down time to go through international news comprehensively, with a special focus on humanitarian and philanthropic news.
What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?
When I get some time off, I really enjoy watching football. I also enjoy travelling, going skiing in winter, as well as scuba diving.
What can't you live without?
My family and my passion for building awareness about social causes and lending a helping hand are the two things I absolutely cannot live without. However, on a practical level I also need my phone and internet connection!
What do you consider the secret to your success?
Tenacity – I believe it is important to never give up when confronted with a challenge. Whether it is personal or professional, I always try to find a solution by looking at the issue from different angles, analysing and assessing it and seeking counsel from others, before choosing an ideal course of action. Heading an organisation comes with a number of responsibilities and a fair share of challenges. However, these are the elements that test one's mettle. Everybody experiences ups and downs in their lives but true leaders are the individuals who rise to the various challenges and persist at solving problems.
What advice would you offer other budding leaders?
Keep your eyes on the goal and never settle for the status quo. Create a culture of achievement and positive reinforcement so that the more you achieve, the higher you raise the bar and the harder you work to achieve more. Test your limits and work hard: there's no other way around it.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
I am passionate about my job and my family, so I try to maintain a healthy balance. As chief executive of Dubai Cares, I spend about half of my time in the office; the rest is spent travelling for work. My travel schedule is usually quite hectic as I travel to our beneficiary countries on field visits to assess programmes, meet partners, government officials and community members and understand the situation on the ground. In parallel to Dubai Cares' growth in the international sphere, I also travel to attend high-level international meetings that set the global agenda for education.
My free time is largely dedicated to my family. I think it is important for my children to understand what I do; therefore, I have many photos of me with children on the field, which I share with my daughters. My eldest daughter regularly checks the photos and asks me questions such as the various countries we travel to, activities we organise, the poverty in countries we operate in and how we help children there. She is aware of poverty in developing countries and the negative impact it has on children. I have promised to take her on a field trip once she is a little older. I also try to make time for my friends and catch up with them sometimes over the weekend.
How do you relax after the working day?
I usually arrive home a bit late. And in the days when I arrive early, I spend time with my children before they sleep. After they go to bed, I spend time with my wife. I also try to relax and unwind by browsing the internet to catch up on what's happening around the world.
If you weren't chief executive of Dubai Cares what else would you be doing?
My experience includes 12 years at various senior positions within the consumer and corporate banking departments in National Bank of Dubai (now Emirates NBD). Therefore, I would still be part of the banking industry, specifically in Emirates NBD, which I consider a second home. However, I think I would still be involved in philanthropy and would be leading philanthropic efforts even as a banker.