Portrait of a Nation: the ambassador, entrepreneur and trekker

Before becoming the ambassador and entrepreneur that he is today, Omar Ghobash spent years trekking through mountains on a journey of soul revival. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Before becoming the ambassador and entrepreneur that he is today, Omar Ghobash spent years trekking through mountains on a journey of soul revival.

Mr Ghobash was not only the first UAE ambassador to Russia in years, but he has also been an initiator in various areas, such as bringing New York University to Abu Dhabi, and starting a project to embrace contemporary Arabic fiction within youth and academia.

He was only 36 when he was appointed ambassador in 2008.

“After September 11 happened, my reaction to it was to look around and get involved in the world around us, so I got involved in a few business ventures, in an art gallery, in education,” he said.

Then, Mr Ghobash wanted to go back to the business world.

“Since my mother is Russian, I looked at the trade figures between the Arab world and Russia and saw they were very small so I set off and spent a few months in Moscow and it turned out that fortunately we didn’t have an ambassador there.”

Once he filled this post, he decided to focus on economics.

“And that worked out pretty well. In the last two or three years the UAE has put six billion dollars to investing in Russia. We have built a wonderful economic bridge and we have an institutional presence in Moscow.”

A team from Abu Dhabi visits the Russian capital every month to continue discussions.

“And we have already developed some capital,” he said.

Some years before that, Mr Ghobash spent five years in a “vacuum”, where he climbed mountains in Nepal and Switzerland.

“When you are climbing a mountain you are with a team, and you don’t have the option to quit.”

Once one reaches the top there is another responsibility to go back down, he said.

“So tying yourself to an objective is a fantastic mechanism for living life, and it makes you clear away all the garbage,” he added.

“I was doing what I needed to do: go out and feel nature and be there. It was not about finding myself.”

 
 
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Source News: The National