My UAE: Essa Al Ansari’s healthy approach

A profile of the Emirati hospitality manager Essa Al Ansari.

Essa Al Ansari wasn’t afraid to embark on a challenging career path. The 25-year-old Emirati says the reason he chose the hospitality industry was because of the long working hours involved, rather than in spite of them.

“The workload is huge, but that’s why I wanted to do it,” says Al Ansari, who manages Tulip Hotel Apartments in Dubai. “I know it’s a challenging industry. That’s what I like.”

His father, Ahmed Redha, who founded Redha Al-Ansari Exchange in Dubai 37 years ago, encouraged his son’s ambitions to join the hospitality sector.

“My dad’s dream was always to open a hotel,” says Al Ansari. “He knew my personality would fit best within that industry, compared to my brothers, so he was very encouraging for me to study at one of the world’s top universities for hotel management.”

Al Ansari took a degree in hospitality management at Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland, then took two six-month internships in events and marketing with Jumeirah in Dubai.

By the time Al Ansari started his first job, as a marketing executive for Le Méridien Mina Seyahi in 2013, he was in the habit of eating junk food. His weight crept up to the point where it was affecting all aspects of his life. “At some points, I used to get sick. I couldn’t find any clothes to fit me anymore. I didn’t feel comfortable to go out anymore.”

Al Ansari’s twin brother Hamad spurred him into making a change. “My brother is very fit. He told me I have to lose weight.”

Al Ansari embarked on a strict diet and exercise regime that involved going to the gym “at least six days a week”. During the next two years, he lost 70 kilograms.

Al Ansari does allow himself a “cheat day” every Friday, however. “I stick to healthy foods – say Subway rather than McDonald’s – or I go to a good-quality restaurant.”

Al Ansari is now encouraging others to embrace an active lifestyle too. “I have actually started giving other people some advice on exercise. I really want to help others lose weight too.”

What’s your favourite book?

The book My Vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid [Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai].

What would most want to take with you to a remote desert island?

Can it be a person? My mum, because she has done so much for me in my life – she is a friend to me, and is very close to me.

What’s your favourite hidden gem in the UAE?

The souq at Madinat Jumeirah. I find the beautiful water and the abra boats there very calming.

Where’s your favourite holiday spot?

Geneva in Switzerland. It is an amazing city with nice people, beautiful views and nature.

What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you when you were young?

To train and be healthy all through my life.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

A lion, because lions are brave, strong and wild, which I am in certain ways. But I am more easy-going than a lion.

Who inspires you the most in your life?

My parents. I credit them with giving me a strong work ethic and encouraging me to study hospitality.

What’s your guilty food pleasure?

A bar of chocolate.

What sort of car do you drive?

A dark grey Mercedes GT S.

What do you do to relieve stress?

I go out with my friends.

What’s your favourite word?

Habibi. I use that word a lot.

What music are you listening to at the moment in your car?

Virgin Radio, because it has a good variety of music.

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