A motivational speaker from New Zealand who addressed government officials and business leaders at a conference in Dubai left his homeland after a plan to give away his Ferrari went wrong, it has emerged. Kevin Abdulrahman, 28, who bills himself as a "mind nutrition expert" and an international keynote speaker "inspiring millions", addressed the GCC Government Organisations and Leaders Global Competitiveness Strategy Conference in Dubai in June.
He was listed alongside such speakers as the director of strategy and corporate excellence at Dubai Customs and the chief corporate affairs officer at Etisalat. Kamiar Delavari, operations manager at Datamatix Group, the Dubai-based organiser of the conference, said his firm was unaware of Mr Abdulrahman's past or of any allegations of financial troubles. "We usually pick our speakers, but, in his case, he approached us and wanted to present at the event with no fee involved," he said.
In June last year, Mr Abdulrahman was living in Auckland, claiming to be a millionaire who in five years went from flipping hamburgers at McDonald's to retiring after a short but profitable career in property development. He drove a bright-yellow Ferrari Modena, which he pledged to give away to one of the buyers of his book, Winning the Game of Life. But six months after he appeared on a national television show in New Zealand to publicise the Ferrari giveaway, the car was repossessed and sold at auction.
The New Zealand Herald reported that Mr Abdulrahman's mobile phone had been disconnected and that the property where Mr Abdulrahman lived had been auctioned. When contacted through his website, Mr Abdulrahman replied using a free e-mail address, saying he was simply a victim of the recession. "We were setting what would have become 'a first in the world' for an author to give away his Ferrari on the back of his book," he wrote.
"It was something different, something to put a smile on people's faces and something that would potentially get those who normally don't read to pick up a book and realise the power that they hold in their mind." Unfortunately, he continued, his firm faced hardship in the downturn and he lost the car. None of those who bought the book asked for their money back after the contest was cancelled, he wrote.