Interview with Abdelrahman AlSaifi, Global Thinkers Forum Mentee
Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life’s story!
A: Jordan is often described as the ‘Silicon Valley’ of the Middle East due to the huge number (not due huge of startups it incubates. It’s also a pivotal point in the current turmoil facing the region despite its lack of resources, but it stands strong because of its people and its leadership. Jordan has a very high youth population, which makes it ideal if they’re given the opportunity to lead and display how they can push the country forward.
My life took a turning point when I decided that I wanted to do something to make this world a better place, but to get to that point, first you have to start with yourself, then your community, then your country and then you’ll be able to move forward with confidence. And that’s how I started. I was a young boy who had dreams as vast as the skies, but where do I start? I started volunteering, and that was the most vivid experience I’ve ever had in my life; it changed every perspective of mine and it gave me the depth and maturity I needed to start planning on taking on the world. I was very fortunate to work with international organizations such as IEEE, which is the experience I’m most proud of, I worked beside student leaders from my university, my region and from all over the world to develop the skills and the knowledge quality of engineering students and youth around the world.
Concurrently, being the tech geek that I am, I was volunteering as a logistics coordinator in a major monthly technology event called Amman Tech Tuesdays, which created an ecosystem for tech startups in Jordan and succeeded in connecting a great deal of founders with investors, in addition to raising awareness to every technology topic that needed to be discussed, or the controversial issues related to technology like internet censorship. These experiences allowed me to get accepted in an exchange program funded by the US Department of State, called MEPI Student Leaders Program, and that was when my life took a huge turning point: it put all the energy and scattered accomplishments here and there in line, and then it all made sense. During the six weeks I spent in the US, I got to live with 19 of the most genuine and selfless people in the region, who are trying to make an impact on their communities and the world around them. I thus got to learn a lot about myself and how far I can go, I learned that there’s no such thing such as “just a dream”, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And now here I am, not the same person I was yesterday, not the same person I was a year ago, not the same person I will be tomorrow. All those dots only make sense when you look at them backwards.
Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?
A: The world today is an unfair place, full of wars, inequality and injustice. And despite all the technological, scientific and societal advancement, it’s just inhumane to ignore all the bad things that are happening around us. But hope remains, the hope for a peaceful world where people respect their differences and opinions, where we focus more on evolution and advancement rather than killing one another.
Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?
A: I’ve always seen the challenges that my society is facing as the following: Education, Energy & Environment. We’re going through a hard time when it comes to Education and Energy in Jordan. Moreover, when it comes to the Environment, Jordan is facing a big challenge, considering that it is the 2nd poorest country in water resources, according to the latest studies.
Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?
A: I had fear of public speaking, I didn’t know how to motivate and lead people around me, I lacked goals and purpose and I was often demotivated from doing the things that I always wanted to do. I had to work on every single one of these points, because I didn’t like the person I was back then and I knew I couldn’t get to the places I aspire to reach without overcoming them. Now I can easily take on an auditorium full of people, I can bring out the best of people around me and push them to do what they do best, I started planning my life and I know what I want from it.
Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?
A: I feel that the need of being mentored in this stage of my career is essential in order to increase my capacity in leading a career in engineering and combining it with my enthusiasm of the business world. I feel the need to be mentored because I often feel I need help to understand my potential and stick to my ambitions no matter how far they seem to be or hard to achieve. I feel the need to be mentored to be held to my goals and plan achieving them accordingly in a shorter time than I would need to do it myself. I feel the need to be mentored because I find it difficult to put my thoughts and ideas in motion and start implementing them, I feel the need to be mentored because I believe I can go a long way from here in the guidance and inspiration of an experienced, wise, strong-willed professional who succeeded in making their career a life lesson for youth to look up to.
Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?
A: Don’t forget your surroundings, don’t forget the people who stand alongside you while you’re so busy trying to change the world around you, make time to live as you make time to work, don’t take them for granted even if they sacrifice too much for you.
Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people’s lives!
A: The examples are countless, but one of the people I’m proud that I’m a friend of, who is continuously inspiring me and everyone around him, is Mustafa Al Momani, Chair of Young Professionals Community in IEEE Jordan Section. Mustafa is a young man who is doing an amazing job in empowering the youth’s lives and I believe he is the kind of leader and human the world needs.
Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!
A: “I’d rather be a superb meteor, every atom in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet”
Global Thinkes Forum Mentee
Abdelrahman AlSaifi is a young engineer from Jordan who volunteers for the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). The strategy they created in Hashemite University Student Branch has rocketed the student branch to winning the awards of Best Student Branch in Jordan, Exemplary Student Branch in Europe, Middle East and North Africa, and Most Active Student Branch in Middle East, in addition to becoming one of the largest and most diverse student branches in the region.