Thiba Sharaf is a reiki master teacher who moved to Dubai from Syria 12 years ago. Ms Sharaf, who has spent the majority of her career working in sales, marketing, recruitment and teaching, says becoming an energy healer was something she was destined to do.
Describe your financial journey so far.
My father was a journalist and my mother a maths teacher and when I was growing up, we lived in Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia, where my mother worked as a supervisor in a school for the children of royalty. As the daughter of a faculty member, I attended the school and found myself surrounded by princesses and the daughters of ministers. I'd get invited to their palaces for parties and they'd send chauffeurs to pick me up. But although they were incredibly wealthy, I noticed they envied me because I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted and walk around the streets unnoticed. It taught me that money is not everything in life and too much money can make you miserable and limit you. It also showed me that I am not easily impressed by power and people who have a lot of money.
What is your philosophy towards money?
Do the things that make you happy and money will simply follow.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I'm in between the two. I spend on the things I love, but I also make sure I'm covered to pay my bills. I love spending money on books and everything to do with healing and psychology. I'm the daughter of a publisher, so reading has always been a big part of my life. But while my dad was a great editor, he was a lousy businessman and not very good with money. My mother had the financial mind. She owned the house and managed the finances and I learnt that you do need stability in life. You cannot worry about money all the time, but you also need to make sure you have enough.
Have you experienced any financial difficulties along the way?
Yes, of course, but then I would meet someone or encounter a certain situation and everything would change. For instance, there would be an opportunity I wanted and then someone would come along and offer it to me. I remember when I was teaching Arabic at an institute and I wanted to work on my own because I wasn't being paid very much. Then my students came to me and asked me to teach them directly and one of them introduced me to a non-profit organisation that allowed me to use their premises to work from. It was as if I had my own institute without even having to pay for it. Whenever I have a financial problem, I think God sends me supportive people and circumstances to change that.
What has been your biggest financial challenge?
To change my mindset. I grew up thinking that getting money should be difficult or hard work, but once I changed my mindset, money came to me easily. One of the things that helped me was reading The Secret. It introduced me to the fact that we can change our destiny. Then once my spiritual journey began six years ago, I learnt to enjoy the moment, not to worry so much about the future and not to dwell on the past.
Why did you decide to set up a reiki business?
It's not that I decided, it's just where life took me. I have always wanted to be a healer and have always attracted people who want to talk to me about their problems. This is my purpose and it just took me time to reach here. I love my work and actually forget sometimes that I also have to be paid. After doing a session of reiki with a client, I feel so fulfilled that when people hand me money, I think, "Oh yes, I get paid for this".
What do you invest in?
I invest in life, particularly in whatever increases my knowledge, such as books or training. I also like to travel and I love spas and pampering myself. I make sure I'm covered for at least a few months, but I also make sure that I live. No one knows what's going to happen tomorrow, so I might as well enjoy life. I also invest in gifts for my nieces and nephews. It's also important to share your wealth - part of happiness is to share.
Is money important to you?
Of course. Having enough money is part of having an abundant life. It's important to have shelter and be able to go out. You can't be happy if you're poor and worried about your bills. But it's also important that I earn my money in an ethical way. If you have a lot of money and it's not earned ethically, it might just cause you misery, whereas if you only have a little money, but it came in a nice way, it will be far more profitable. There are a lot of people who come for a reiki session and I don't feel I can do reiki with them because I don't click with them. It's not a job I can do just for money. It's very personal and intimate.