Khalifa Al Haroon, who completed a foundation course in English language in 2003 and later studied at Anglia Ruskin University, has been named in the Entrepreneurial Award category.
He is founder of ILoveQatar.net – a content-driven platform celebrating the diversity of Qatar’s community – and created RaqamiTV, the world’s biggest Arabic educational tech channel. He has been named one of the most influential people in the Middle East under 40.
As well as his father, who he says inspired him to be a “good person”, Khalifa also praised his Essex education for driving his ambition, and his UK experience as being the catalyst for his community focused entrepreneurial spirit.
Speaking about what inspired him he said: “My father is a successful person and whenever I'd meet people, they'd always get excited to know I was his son. They'd share stories and smile so wide. I wanted people to remember me that way too. So I worked hard on being a good person and making sure everything I did left a positive impact on anything I touched.”
He added: “My dad once asked me what the purpose of going into a business meeting was. I thought it was a trick question, and said ‘to close the deal’. He said, 'no, you're only goal is to walk out with a friend. Forget about the business’"
Khalifa’s Essex education proved formative too. “It was in university that I started my first business which put me on my entrepreneurial path. I remember brainstorming my idea in the campus square when the University was giving people a chance to launch their own business. I worked on loads of presentations and business models that friends and teachers helped me craft.”
It’s that community spirit that he remembers most fondly about his time at Essex: “I met a lot of people from all over the world. There was a focus on student communities and cross cultural exchange which adds a depth to anyone's educational journey. I loved being able to learn not only from professors but the students themselves.”
Khalifa believes strongly in the importance of kindness and working together: “It’s nice to be nice. I always remind myself that you don’t need a reason to do something good.
“I wish people thought more about how they could partner up and help each other out than trying to do everything themselves. We'd all achieve so much more and be much more successful if we just worked together,” he added.
Khalifa is one of three former Essex students to reach the finals of the British Council Awards. Jian Jiang, PhD Computational Finance, 2011, is also a finalist in the Entrepreneurial Award category and Lilia Petrosyan, LLM International Human Rights Law, 2013, is the only woman finalist in the Professional Achievement Award category.