(1) How would you like to Introduce yourself?
I was born in Liverpool, United Kingdom and raised in Manchester. I was quite shy as a young child growing up. I studied Performing Arts and later trained as an English teacher. I wanted to help others through education. I also trained as a fitness instructor on the side to better my own understanding of health, fitness and wellbeing. It also allowed me to help others.
I moved to the Middle East in 2013, where I now currently work at an international school as a Director of Learning and Teaching. I am also an educational consultant, where I have worked with many schools, teachers and educational leaders globally. I do like keeping myself involved with multiple aspects of what I enjoy and not putting myself into a box based on people expectations or fixed minds.
(2) Tell us something about your family.
My mum is a retired Nurse Midwife and my dad continues to work in business and property investment in England. They are both Pakistani who have spent most of their lives in the UK. I also have 4 sisters. The eldest Farah works in primary education and has a teenage son. Natasha is a year younger than me and she works as a lecturer at a university in the UK. I have a sister called Nazia who has 2 beautiful young boys and 2 girls. They are adorable!
One of my elder sisters Sarah has severe learning difficulties. I grew up with my family taking care of her. This also sparked an interest for me to get involved in education. Other people have also become my family along the way who aren’t blood related. They know who they are.
(3) Tell us about your best/memorable childhood memory
I remember when I was around 4 years old, I was visiting relatives in Jakarta, Indonesia with my mum and sisters. I jumped out from a lower ground window from my uncle’s villa. I wanted to fly like Superman. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite happen as I knocked my head badly against a stone plant pot. My head and face was covered in blood! I still have a small scar on the side of my head. I still think I am Superman sometimes.
(4) Tell me about your biggest fear in life.
I don’t have specific fears in life honestly speaking. I used to be afraid of heights, but I overcame that by getting onto a roller coaster and other rides at a theme park in England several times. I learnt to address and deal with fears as they come along. I used to be scared at the thought of death growing up as a teenager. I used to suffer from epilepsy and sometimes have seizures where I would just pass out. I was on medication and it was really not helping me. My seizures stopped after I began exercising and cutting out certain foods from my diet. I had realized what triggered my epilepsy. Stress, junk food, fizzy drinks, negative people. I have not had a seizure for some years now. If it does happen, I am able to control it with my mind and focusing on myself.
(5) One of the craziest things you have experienced in your life.
I would say there have been two occasions that I personally consider ‘crazy’. It involved me not paying close attention to my own health and wellbeing. The first one was a wake-up call in 2016 when I was visiting Los Angeles, USA. I had become very ill and was taken to hospital for serious food poisoning. I remember a paramedic saying, ‘if we don’t leave now for the ambulance, we are not sure you will make it’. I genuinely thought it was going to be the end for me because I just knew it and felt myself slipping away. My heart rate was all over the place. I had an outer body experience, where I was looking down at myself. I could hear conversations taking place in another room far away from mine at the hospital. I will not forget that close death experience. It changed the way I view life and people around me. Life is so precious and short.
The second was in Doha in 2019, where I had allowed myself to fall off track again with my own health through stress and exhaustion. I had developed colon infection, which was awfully painful and bloody. I got better of course, but it was another lesson to find consistency with managing my time and work life with good sleep, exercise, nutrition and doing all the things that inspire my creativity and happiness.
(6) Tell us about your hobby/interest.
Some people also know me as ‘Travelfitguy’. It’s funny, when I am not dressed in my tie and suit, people rarely recognize me outside of work (for the good and bad). I have used my social media platform to share positive thoughts, my travels, photography, modelling shots and connecting with others around the world who have similar interests. In short, education, travel, exercise, photography and good food!
(7) Tell me about your 3 bucket list dreams.
- Continue to have a positive impact on the people I meet in some shape or form.
- Have my own school or charity organization that supports children and those in need.
- Travel and explore more places.
(8) How do you describe the term wellness & health in your own words?
Over the years, I tried different exercise plans, workouts and diets by famous people. I learnt that our bodies and minds are unique. We are all different and you have to explore and find what works for your body and mind. One size does not fit all.
In my own words and through my experiences, wellness and health is a positive and peaceful approach towards yourself and others around you. Be good to others and be good to yourself too. It’s ok to love yourself! For me, it’s about how I choose to feel on the inside, which can have an impact on how you feel and look on the outside. There is no magic pill! Food portion control, working out, self-discipline and consistency are the few things for great wellness and health. These are some of the simple things that also contribute to your overall personal success and happiness.
(9) Tell me about your journey as a Fitness Instructor and social media influencer?
I had got into working out when I was in England from the age of 15. I was not always a fan of exercise or eating healthy. In fact, I used to hate physical education when I was in my school years.
I used to work part-time as a receptionist for one of the Fitness First gyms in Manchester during my college and university years. I felt very lucky and grateful, as the gym manager at the time had asked me if I was interested in taking qualifications to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer. This is where it began for me. Eventually, I was instructing fitness classes and training others whilst also juggling work as an English school teacher.
I often work out every day, even if it is just for 30 minutes. I like to do fitness classes, kick boxing, weight training, swimming, yoga, meditation and dance. I used to do street dance, which I still like to do when time allows. All of this keeps my mind and body in check and sets me up with balancing the demands of working in education as a senior school leader and educator.
Some time back when Instagram was still fairly new to me in 2013, I had began posting and overtime I began getting a lot of followers from my posts and stories. I have connected with many interesting people from all over the world and received supportive and appreciative messages. Sometimes I get mean messages too, which I just ignore. Some of my followers also became my good friends. I was able to connect with photographers, travellers and companies for networking and collaboration.
(10) Can you tell us about Sky Educate and what is its purpose?
I founded Sky Educate in 2014. It was an idea sparked between myself and some friends who are also IB teachers. I had initially began working voluntarily supporting other educators, international schools and school boards as a consultant through Sky Educate. The organisation is now represented by skilful and experienced educators who come from various countries and nationalities. They are also involved in various educational roles. I have worked with many international schools and other non-educational organisations delivering leadership, teacher training and starting schools up. A lot of the work has been both paid and voluntary. You can check out the website at www.skyeducate.com
I was able to also connect with a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families in Tanzania. In September, I was humbled to be invited to join as a voluntary member of the Board of Directors. I recommend everyone to get involved with this meaningful organisation to support children and their families in need.
(11) Your words about Qatar and how this place has helped you in fulfilling your dreams?
Qatar is my current home. It is a unique place that is very progressive and inspirational in many ways. I feel humbled, as I believe Qatar has connected me with many great people and many learning opportunities both personally and professionally.
I am looking forward to this year’s Qatar National Day events. We all know it has been quite a challenging year with Covid. Even I had Covid myself and survived! I encourage everyone to enjoy the National Day events taking place this year.
As expats, I genuinely think we are all connected as a community despite our differences, backgrounds and nationalities. We all contribute to being a part of the community. I have always felt appreciative for where I am. Like many others, I am also excited about Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022.
(12) What message do you want to give to our viewers?
Enjoy the moments each day and each hour. We don’t know if we will exist tomorrow, so be appreciative of what you already have. Love, care and share positive thoughts and actions with others around you. Even if the action is small, you will be surprised of the impact it has.
Being positive through multiple ways can be contagious (in a good way of course). It defeats a lot of that negativity that some people carry on them, because they are never happy or content with themselves or others around them. Remember to smile and connect with others. Be grateful!
Keep an open mind and don’t allow others to put you in a box with their expectations. Some people have criticised me in the past and some still do. I became a school senior leader and Vice Principal at a young age some years back when I was 26. I was determined, passionate and driven. I was criticised and judged for not being ‘old enough’, for not ‘looking the part’ or being ‘too young’. I have even heard, ‘do you even work? How do you have time for everything?’. I am grateful for working with people and organisations that don’t judge by age, but what skills and attributes you bring along rather than what you have only done.
Some people have their own expectations or stereotypes for how a school teacher should be or look. I refuse to be made a stereotype. We are all unique, have different paths and we make our own time. Many of us have a life along with our own experiences, skills and talents.
(13) Your thoughts on Essence of Qatar (our website)
Essence of Qatar is a great media outlet, which is growing and gaining a lot of popularity. It is a different type of platform that not only shares the news, but also connects with the community of Qatar and highlights some of the other great people of Qatar too.
Shukran to the team for reaching out and connecting with me.
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