Zahed Interviews With Al Yaqaza Magazine
He is a bold young man, talented in the arts and management, inherited them from an architect father and a mother who works in landscape design. Smart enough, he was able to harness his artistic taste and love of environment to serve his country. He publishes a distinctive magazine targeting society and the environment, using a youth’s point of view. He is intelligent, active and very practical, innovative in thought, and the sky is his limit.
To begin with, introduce yourself to us.
My name is Zahed Sultan Al-Essa. I studied in Kuwait up until the 1990 Iraqi occupation, and then traveled to India for 2 years to continue my studies. Thereafter, I returned to Kuwait and completed my high-school studies, graduating from ASK in 1997. I currently hold a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Boston University (completed in 2001) as well as a diploma in Audio Engineering from the SAE Institute in London (completed in 2004).
Why did you study Sound engineering, and why in Since I was young, I had a passion for music. Upon completion of 14 months at a brick and mortar company in Kuwait (Agility Logistics), I took the decision to travel and study within a new field abroad to alter my career path at the time. The desire to innovate and create was a major driving factor behind this decision.
What did you do when you came back to Kuwait?
On my return, I was enthusiastic and full of ideas. I wanted to work with a variety of creative mediums like music, print, film and more. Furthermore, I interviewed with numerous companies expressing an interest to work with these so-called mediums. But, to my dismay, I was constantly told to focus my efforts. This eventually led me to find creative niche’s in the Kuwaiti market that required professional attention. And so I began my journey freelancing from the bedroom of my parent’s house in 2004.
Initially, did you have the suitable tools to work with these mediums?
Starting out, my tools were simple. It was how I used them and innovated when offered basic tasks that made the difference.
Did you find it difficult to break into a particular field of business, given your young age at the time?
I am pursuant by nature. A bold approach and expression of interest to the smallest task that came my way, allowed me the humility to complete all initial offers, no matter how tedious or simple, and grow at an accelerated rate.
Tell us about your beginnings as a young professional?
I was in constant search for opportunities. Friends, family, and social networking proved to be key to all that I have achieved today.
After 6 months of freelancing out of my bedroom (primarily in the field of audio production and event management – with regards to music). I rented an office with a cousin of mine. In the summer of 2005, I established El Boutique Creative Group (EBCG).
Through this newly formed entity I entered the field of graphic design (and formalized all services related to audio as a separate division as well).
We engaged in a diverse range of creative services and built a substantial portfolio of successes within a short timeframe.
Today, EBCG is home to 11 full-time professionals, 3 part-time, and works with a range of global associates and creatives.
How did social responsibility become a primary area of focus within your organization?
In the summer of 2007, The Metal and Recycling Company (MRC) commissioned EBCG to re-brand their organization. Upon completion of this contract, we were asked to introduce the brand to the local market through a media campaign.
Rather than take the traditional route, we proposed an innovative PR event, whereby we would invite members of the design community, from varying disciplines, to visit MRC’s scrap yards in Amghara, understand their business, collect relevant scrap (within pre-defined specifications) and recreate furniture and home-ware out of it. We entitled this event “REUSE”.
As a first attempt for us to conceptualize and organize an event for the general public, REUSE proved to be a genuine success, from the end products on display to the attendance and overall positive feedback.
More importantly, going through the REUSE experience and interacting with the attendees and the media sparked the idea for “the en.v initiative” and all it’s associated platforms for promoting social responsibility.
The en.v Initiative’s prime objective is to seek out individuals as well as multinational companies in the region, document their efforts, and create interactivity between them towards developing a more thought-conscious society. Using formats that are appealing to the masses, The en.v Initiative strives to develop mediums that entities can utilize as platforms for communicating their social efforts (thus presenting themselves to stakeholders in an entirely new light).
Why did you start a magazine serving Arab society and the environment, and what do you aim to achieve from it?
Our role is a simple one: To further our achievements as a society, as citizens, and as the people of Kuwait. en.v will work, through its various resources, to adopt a multi-lateral action plan that will group and gather together individuals, organizations and corporations with similar goals of philanthropy, sustainability and development to tackle present-day issues like environmental awareness.
At the end of the day, The en.v Initiative strives to instill a social consciousness in Kuwaiti citizens, and the business community alike, that will communicate into the adaptation of responsible, sustainable lifestyles and economical private sector opportunities for the betterment of society as a whole.
What are future plans for EBCG (and en.v)?
As a company and citizens of Kuwait (and the Arab world as a whole) we will constantly be pushing for change. As a collective with a growing sphere of influence, we have a better chance in persuading the highest levels of government to implement decisive and sustainable measures for the betterment of Kuwaiti society in the years to come.
Written by: Mona Al-Ryouni