Money & Me: ‘I grow my wealth through several sources'

Travel entrepreneur Mohamed Sufyan contributes to his family business and invests in stocks and cryptocurrencies

Mohamed Sufyan is trying to maintain a balance between spending and saving. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Mohamed Sufyan converted his passion for travel into his main source of income in 2015 when he teamed up with his friend to create Eduoutings, a Dubai-based expedition travel company.

Mr Sufyan, 35, was born in India and moved to Dubai in 1991. He currently lives in Jebel Ali with his wife and parents.

The managing partner of Eduoutings says theirs is the only expedition travel company in the GCC.

“Our biggest challenge has been to explain what expedition travel is or how it is different from commercial travel,” Mr Sufyan says.

What does an expedition travel company do?

We provide expeditions to remote places, such as Antarctica, Greenland, Svalbard in Norway, sailing in the Arctic region, such as from Greenland to Alaska.

Most expeditions happen on ships that act like a base camp. Along with highly experienced captains on board, you will have an expedition team that comprises marine biologists, ornithologists and scientists.

We help our travellers understand nature and know more about fragile ecosystems. Every expedition is unique.

For example, in Greenland, we visit Inuit settlements. Travellers get to learn about their lifestyle, how they earn, how fishing is important to them, where they get supplies from and we give back to society by supporting their schools.

Have you always worked in travel?

No, until 2015, I used to work for my father's business. He was involved in several businesses across the GCC.

I used to help him since I was in seventh grade. I learnt a lot working with him and this gave me enough experience to do something on my own.

In 2015, I met Payal Khubani, one of my friends from university, who shared my passion for travel. We decided that we must do something in the travel industry.

I come from an entrepreneurial family. I always had a desire to educate people on the go. That is why I decided to provide expedition travel to people in the region, because it is a unique concept that not many are aware of.

Was there money in your childhood?

My father had a good business during my childhood. He created a very comfortable life for his family. I remember not having any complaints.

My father got me a credit card when I was in high school. When I grew up, I learnt that not many people have access to such opportunities.

I started earning money while I was in grade seven. My father paid me a stipend of about Dh2,000 for helping in the business. This was in 1999.

I learnt the importance of money and how it gives you the power to achieve your dreams.

Have you faced any financial setbacks?

When my friend Payal and I started our business, it was just a passion. But it did not take us long to realise that we had to convert the business into our main source of income.

Initially, we sustained the business because we used to earn money from numerous sources. But over time, we recognised the need to expand our markets. We used to lack funds in the beginning because it was such a niche industry.

We faced a lot of financial challenges until the pandemic. But after the pandemic, our business grew substantially. We have never had to take a loan to run our business so far.

How do you grow your wealth?

I grow my wealth through various sources. I am an opportunist. I earn from my expedition travel company, but I do not rely on just one source of income. I also contribute to my family business.

Additionally, I always look out for opportunities in the stock market, cryptocurrencies or some form of trading, for example, electronic gadgets.

I am also working on launching a textile brand, as well as doing research to start a cafe or restaurant with my friend.

Do you trade in stocks?

I started to dedicate more time and money to stock trading during the Covid-19 pandemic since expedition travel had come to a complete halt and our cash flow was affected.

In this industry, people typically book tours a few years in advance. So, all the business that we had accumulated from 2015 to 2019 had to be put on hold because of the global travel restrictions.

Although we offered the refund option to all our travellers, most of them decided to rebook in the future. No one asked for a refund and that gave us hope that business would improve after the pandemic.

I started trying to earn money through other sources. I learnt more about the stock market and cryptocurrencies, and it was a good learning curve.

I started investing small amounts in stocks and made some losses and good profits, too. Until you do not fall, you do not learn any skills.

Are cryptocurrencies a big part of your investment portfolio?

By the time I started investing in cryptocurrencies, all of them were either hyped up or had sunk. So, my timing was not great.

Now, I am investing in a few cryptocurrencies on a long-term basis.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I have been a spender. As I grew up, I used to spend a lot, but I understood the responsibilities of running a business and recently got married, too.

Now I understand the importance of saving. I am trying to maintain a good balance between spending and saving.

Have you been wise with money so far?

I have been very wise with money. I already know what I want in life maybe in the next two years, five years or 10 years, whether it is a small product or a big investment.

I will not spend a single penny unless I need to.

What is your best investment?

Starting my own company has been my best investment so far.

When my co-founder and I started this company, we had two goals. One was to work on our passion and second was to travel ourselves. In eight years, I have managed to travel to six continents.

My father got me a credit card when I was in high school. When I grew up, I learnt that not many people have access to such opportunities
Mohamed Sufyan, co-founder of Eduoutings

What is your most cherished purchase?

It was buying a Suzuki GSXR 600 sports bike when I was at university.

Any financial advice for your younger self?

I used to be a spender. So, I would tell the younger version of me to adopt a better balance between spending and saving.

What did you spend on when you were younger?

I used to spend a lot on electronic gadgets. I remember buying the first iPhone on the day it was launched. After that, I would buy all Apple products, be it cameras or music players, because I had money.

I was young and did not know saving was important, but I enjoyed every bit of it and have no regrets.

What luxuries are important to you?

I like to travel every two to three months out of the UAE. Another luxury is to have a comfortable living space and workspace.

I am also a big foodie and love to explore new places.

What are your financial goals?

One of my financial goals is to have several sources of income. I am already working towards it.

Updated: February 23, 2024, 6:02 PM