The more time I spend with Matar Al Mansoori, the more I feel he embodies the heart and soul of the UAE. A kind and patient man, he emanates a calming presence. He told me that his father was his mentor and role model when I asked him recently who he would consider his best mentor.

He was sharing some of his memorable childhood stories, and I was enthralled by his passion for his topic. Born in Al Ain on the 28th September 1975, and raised Al Khazna, Liwa Oasis, Matar’s fondest memories of his father was spending time with him in the desert after school was out. He feels that the lessons learnt from his father during this time was invaluable and shaped him as a man.

When I asked him to elaborate, he told me that in the stillness of the desert, a man’s heart and soul is reflected. There is nothing to hide behind, just a transparency with God, and an attitude of gratitude for all you have been blessed with.

In 1987, whilst in secondary school, his love of Geography and History was evident. His Geography teacher said to him “One day Matar, you will be the Ambassador of the UAE!” Now the First Secretary at the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Matar tells the story of his journey to success.

He received a scholarship from the UAE in 1993 to further his studies internationally. He left for Portland, Oregon in the US, full of high hopes and expectations for his future and for that of his family. He then went on to Lewis & Clark College to complete his studies in International Affairs and graduated in August 1998.

He felt privileged to be able to explore the culture and heritage of the US, as well as have the opportunity to explore the culture and heritage of Ecuador during his summer overseas program there in 1998. Whilst on overseas program in Ecuador, he learnt Spanish and completed level 1 & 2.

After returning to Abu Dhabi after graduating abroad, Matar’s first position with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was as a Diplomatic Attaché to Morocco from 2000 – 2004. He was quickly promoted from Third Secretary to Second Secretary and believes it was because he had loyalty, focus, commitment and dedication to the UAE, that enabled him to overcome many trials and difficulties.

When I asked him what advice he would give others about overcoming adversity or hardship in the workplace, he answered me with this story, “A swimmer cannot build strength or stamina in a calm sea. He develops his muscles when he needs to swim through stormy waters.” This superb display of leadership thinking is one that I hope many other Emiratis share with him.

Two books that had a profound impact on him were, “7 Habits of Highy Effective People” by Steven Covey, and “Awaken the Giant Within You” by Anthony Robbins. After spending all the time I have with him, I can see how these books have influenced him so positively. I think he is a true role model of professional excellence.

He fell in love with Arabian horses during his time as a Diplomatic Attache in Morocco, registering with the Royal Moroccan Club. He spent 1 year at this club, becoming a skilled rider and an appreciator of Arabian horses. It was his ambition to become an owner of Arabian horses when he came back to Abu Dhabi. This is another dream that has been realized for Matar. He bought a beautiful white Arabian mare called Wahda, who had now had a stallion foal that he named Dahas. Dahas is a beautiful grey, white colour.

His dream is to transport them safely from Morocco to Abu Dhabi after Ramadan this year, inshallah. The costs are high and he is hoping to find a reasonably priced service to do this.
When deciding to own Arabian horses, Matar says there are 3 things to consider… a)Whether you want to race professionally or b) Whether you want to show jump or c) Owning them for their beauty. It’s the latter that Matar based his decision on. He felt that this would also reflect the beauty of his own culture and heritage. When you consider an Arabian horse’s beauty, you look at the curvature and shape of its nose, at the upturned tail and at the beautiful way it moves. Its grace and beauty a hard thing to describe adequately with words.

It was during this time in the desert as a young boy, sleeping under the stars, learning from his father, that his heritage truly resonated within him and his thirst for knowledge about his culture and heritage was born. His dreams were born to have his own Bedouin farm someday. It was only a thought in his mind in April 1994 to make a farm in the desert which can reflect the authentic culture and heritage of the UAE. This dream was realized when he launched his Bedouin Camp business Al Badeyah Eyes in August 2009. It’s a place he would most love to share with his fellow Emiratis as it demonstrates the rich culture and heritage of the UAE, as well as sharing this beautiful way of life with expats and visitors.

I have had the honour of spending a day there with Matar and some of his guests. It was truly the most special day! The Bedouin experience is one that I would rate very highly. His camp is an authentic one that is home to Sadah and Kasar his two falcons, Warda and Fulla his two Saluki pups, Abu and Dhaboo his two camels and many goats and rabbits. The photos for this beautiful oasis is called Bedouin at Heart and available for open viewing on my facebook profile.

I look forward to sharing the next installment of Matar Al Mansoori’s professional journey as he leaves on the 4th July 2010 after his recent promotion, for his next role as First Secretary at the UAE Embassy in Pakistan.