My UAE: the PR specialist and author Heba Al Mansoori
‘Old enough to have been in business for 18 years,” laughs Heba Al Mansoori, when asked in what year she was born. “You shouldn’t ask a lady that, anyway.”
Quite. But while her age might still be a mystery to strangers, this woman’s work, and the dedication she displays to her craft, will be familiar to many of her fellow Emiratis. In January 2004, having decided there was a dearth of public-relations-agency talent in the UAE, she founded Biz Com – her own agency, based in Dubai.
A self-professed “serial entrepreneur, technology evangelist and advocate of transparency”, Al Mansoori’s enthusiasm for proactive public relations seemingly knows no bounds. In the 11 years since her agency opened, it has represented many household company names, as well as several Government entities. But it’s her work as an author that we’re interested in right now, as her book, The Most Beautiful Island in the World, has been reprinted after selling out 20,000 copies.
“It was first published in 2010 and is an Arabic-language guide to Sri Lanka. Travel was always a hobby with me and my family, and my father worked in the foreign ministry, so we were always visiting different countries. But Sri Lanka fascinated me more than any other place,” she says.
The book explains how GCC nationals can get the best out of any holiday in the “Emerald Isle”.
“Which hotels serve halal food, where you can expect utmost privacy, how to see the sights with a large family and all that entails – it’s all there,” she adds. “I have been visiting Sri Lanka since I was a child, so I had a lot to go on.”
The travel-writing bug has bitten Al Mansoori hard – she’s working on a guide to Italy – again in Arabic and geared towards GCC tourists. “I know what we want,” she says. At least 20,000 people agree with her.
What car do you drive?
A Hummer H3. It’s been extremely reliable and makes a perfect vehicle for taking the family for drives into the desert – I really enjoy off-road driving.
My favourite part of the UAE
I was born and raised in Abu Dhabi and I live and work in Dubai, so both are very special to me. But the other emirates also offer so much, it’s impossible to choose a favourite. The main library in Sharjah deserves a special mention – it’s the best there is – and the nature of the Northern Emirates is breathtaking.
My most recent holiday
Paris, in January. I go there to de-stress, and it’s another place full of good memories for me.
I can’t say I follow in the footsteps of any particular person, but my mother has been a hugely positive influence in my life.
Do you use public transport?
I do. I think it’s very important, and I use the Metro in Dubai all the time. I also use public transport when visiting different countries, and it has allowed me to meet some fascinating people over the years.
My favourite invention
Anything by Apple – I am a huge fan of Steve Jobs, because his products allowed me to use technology in a way others [in previous years] could not. It’s all very simple and it works beautifully.
What advice would you give to other Emiratis inspired by your work?
To always make their country proud in everything they do, to take things seriously and to keep hold of their fine principles.
My favourite music
I’m not really into the crazy rock stuff – I do like classical music, though.
My favourite actors
Anthony Hopkins and Meryl Streep – I try to watch any film they star in.
Published: December 4, 2014 04:00 AM