Day in the life: Striking work-life balance amid an eclectic working day

Being a marketing man for Montegrappa, preparing to open a spinning studio, and taking calls from Salma Hayek: it’s all in a day’s work for Dubai resident Haytham Nasr.

Haytham Nasr is credited as the executive producer of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, an animated film. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Haytham Nasr works as the marketing director for Montegrappa Middle East, a joint-venture with the Italian pen-maker, as well as looking after other luxury brands for Paris Gallery Regional and the Arabian Marketing Corporation. But outside his day job, the Lebanese-British expatriate, 33, is credited as the executive producer of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, an animated film based on the Lebanese poet's writing, and which includes a character voiced by Salma Hayek. The role involved him raising money, building on experience he gained crowdfunding US$1 million to open a bar in Lebanon. And Mr Nasr is currently embarking on another – very different – project: opening a spinning exercise studio with his wife Dana. Here, Mr Nasr – who lives in Mirdif, Dubai, with his wife and two children, describes his eclectic working day.


The kids jump into the bed around 6am – that is the first wake-up call. I push them out of bed, and then they will come back again at about 7am, at which point I am normally awake.


I am training for the RAK Half Marathon in February, so every morning I try to get on the treadmill and run about 5 kilometres. I did the half-marathon last year for the first time, in about two hours and 13 minutes. But this year I want to get under the two-hour mark.


I tend to skip breakfast, which is probably not very good. I just have a coffee – I love my coffee. Our office is in the Dubai Airport Freezone, so I generally leave the house at around 8.40am. The nice thing about living near the office is it is a 10-minute drive.


The first thing I will go over is the emails to see if anything has gone on, especially with the time difference with Italy. Then, if it is an internal meeting, I will have all the brand managers come in and have a review of the sales for the past week.


I am not really much of a fan of going out for lunch, unless I have meetings. I love Subway – Subway is just the best thing ever. I am literally on first-name terms with the delivery guys, who know my name, what I eat and on which day of the week.


Going over the emails can take another couple of hours. It is incredible how much time you spend on emails, actually. We have a couple of other brands I am introducing to the market. We’re dealing with Sekonda, the UK’s No 1 watch brand. I am coming up with launch plans, or plans for next year for when we are going with each one of our brands.


I leave the office to go out and do visits. It could be in one of the big malls – Dubai Mall or Festival City – those are generally places that stock our items. The worst thing you can do is spend too much time in the office, just looking at numbers and making rash decisions without really understanding what is going on in the market. The best people to speak to are the sales guys. They know exactly what items are moving, or why they are not moving. In a way our business is quite simple, in the sense that it revolves around having the right stock in the right places.


My meal of the day is when I get home at about 5.30pm or 6pm. My wife is a fantastic cook. It is a lot of Lebanese stuff – we have very healthy food.


I will open up the laptop. My wife just got certified as a spinning instructor, and we are in the advanced stages of opening a spinning studio. The entrepreneur side of me just doesn't seem to want to go away.

The movie really does not take much of my day-to-day time. That was really more about getting the funders involved, and then getting feedback on what is going on. Salma Hayek and I had calls about once a month during crunch time – between the premieres – to get an understanding of the launch plan. People are going to be watching this movie in 10, 15 or 20 years from now. It is a powerful story – the words of Gibran are very well translated onto the big screen.


I will watch a TV series. We finished Game of Thrones – that was fantastic. I like Downton Abbey and, obviously, Breaking Bad. It is a nice way to fall asleep; you put it on and you just fall asleep watching one of those.

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