A close encounter with the third kind. On Tuesday morning, a Dubai businessman named Tareq Ghosheh sat behind an immaculate desk in his Media City office and began to reel off a seemingly endless list of careers he has pursued over the last two decades. "There are three kinds of people in the world: those who learn by watching, those who learn by listening and those who learn by doing," he said. "I'm the third kind." Ghosheh, who's 38 but appears to be much younger, was wearing blue jeans and a blue striped shirt. He has a round, animated face and long, spirally black hair that often seems to move of its own accord. His current job, he said, is as the managing director of a mobile marketing start-up, which he oversees along with a communications firm he founded last year (Green Fridge: The House of Organic Creative Ideas). Until recently, he helped run a film-production company he co-launched in Jordan, but sold his stake in the venture a few months ago to pursue his latest ambition: creating a series of superhero comic books based in the Middle East. In his spare time, Ghosheh works on standup comedy routines, in English and Arabic, which he occasionally performs around Dubai. He'd like to give serious acting a go, too.
"I have two businesses up and running, plus three in the making," he said. "I wake up at five in the morning, go home at ten, bed by midnight - that's my life. Not surprisingly, I'm not married." Born and brought up in Kuwait, Ghosheh has Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian blood in him. As a young man, he divided his academic career between the American University in Cairo and the Lebanese American University, in Beirut; he started out studying mechanical engineering, but gave it up for marketing and communications. He first moved to Dubai in 1994 to do sales for a local IT magazine, a position he held only fleetingly. He subsequently tried advertising, then publishing, then telecommunications, then PR - experiments that took him to Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Canada and back to Dubai. "I'm easily bored," Ghosheh explained. "Very often I find employment suffocating. If I can go from A-to-Z in one move, why wait 10 years? It can be annoying for my bosses. I haven't been their favourite in many cases."
This physical and professional restlessness extends to Ghosheh's intellectual life. During a half-hour conversation, he touched on the ideas of the Sufi philosopher Rumi, the technical challenges of mobile marketing, the niceties of comedic theory and the importance of having really good villains in comic books. When asked about his tendency to flit from one subject to another, Ghosheh laughed: "I'm dyslexic and left-handed." While he's aware that some might view him as a man who simply has difficulty making up his mind, Ghosheh believes that his wildly diverse interests - along with his inability to sit still - have been instrumental to his success. "I think business and creativity feed each other," he said, adding with a shrug, "I live in a nice house, I drive a nice car."
Although Ghosheh considers Dubai to be his home, he allows that he could soon be living in a nice house in another part of the world. He's very excited about his superhero project, and believes the concept could quickly go global. "The name of the game will be taking it to TV and electronic media," he said. "If we're lucky, we could take it to cinema in three-to-four years, max." Until he gets the project off the ground, Ghosheh won't reveal the name of his comic book, or the powers his seven heroes possess. "What I'm going to offer talks to a more sophisticated mind, rather than kids," he said. "I want to do this in a way that relates to daily life. Do miracles really happen? Yes, they do. Is there an ongoing battle between good and evil? Yes, there is. We're looking at a global market, but the battlefield will be the UAE and the Middle East."
As Ghosheh related these plans, his hair seemed especially lively. He's in the process of finding money- men to bankroll his enterprise, he said, which is why he doesn't want to reveal too many details - intellectual property theft and all that. "Ever since I was a kid, I read lots of Superman and Batman," he said. "What we're trying to do here is to take comic books to new areas and new horizons and new latitudes." And Ghosheh's not going to let a little thing like his inability to draw hold him back. "I do the concepts and have people draw them for me," he explained, flicking through a sketch pad filled with drawings of muscular, square-jawed action heroes. "I'm not a good drawer. I just dream, dream and execute."
* Chris Wright