By Hubert Vaz
Oman’s young ‘millionaire’fulfils his dreams, one by one
It’s just been a year since Ali Said al Neyadi, a talented youth from Sohar, won Sadeem, the Arab world’s biggest digital competition, and he is well on the way to making all his dreams come true.
The 25 year old Omani, who had been studying Computer Systems in Ireland, bagged a prize money of 1mn Saudi riyals (around RO105,000) by impressing an elite panel of judges at the May 2018 competition with engaging content for social media about students studying abroad.
Holding great promise from the start of the contest, Ali eventually emerged the winner of Sadeem Season I, which had over 18,000 contestants from across the globe.
On winning the contest, Ali had then told TheWeek from Ireland that he had planned to utilise the prize money to buy his dream car, build a house, get married and take his pet project ahead in all earnestness.
A year later, Ali has bought himself a Dodge Challenger, built a new abode for himself in a section of his father’s home in Sohar, has got married, and is now seriously crafting a video project which is poised to provide him a challenging, yet fulfilling, career.
“Most youngsters achieve these goals by taking huge loans and keep repaying it for the rest of their lives, but I did it all on my own without taking any bank loans,” Ali said, pointing out that it gave him much joy to be assured that he wasn’t in any big trouble financially.
“Of the total prize money, I received around RO30,000 for myself while around RO65,000 has been set aside to fund the project that I have undertaken. My project is called ‘Planet Oman’ and I have begun producing weekly video episodes of adventures in different parts of the sultanate – in valleys, mountains, caves, dive sites and other stunning locations – mainly to showcase our beautiful country to the world. It is also my own way of giving back to my country,” Ali told TheWeek.
Ali’s long-term plan is to set up his own production company some day; he is currently taking small steps towards realising this goal. “I don’t want to rush it and do it wrong,” he said, but he knows that business is all about taking risks – calculated ones.
Seeing Ali win Sadeem Season I, many youngsters in Oman had approached him for tips on participating and trying their luck in Season 2. He shared with them practical tips from his own approach to the contest which paid rich dividends after impressing the judges and delighting the audience present
Two youths whom Ali guided and who are popular in Oman’s social media scene, even got selected for the initial round in Beirut. However, they were unable to make it to the rounds ahead in the competition while a contestant from Egypt won Season 2.
Ali has been steadfastly working on his project on hand to make it the first of its kind created by an Omani for promoting the sultanate and being instrumental in elevating Oman’s image globally.
Advice for youngsters
I’d like to tell young Omanis to be confident in everything they do. Do not let others decide what you must do because they do not know your capabilities and how far you can go. The only person who knows you the best is yourself. Remember, every building with a main entrance also has an emergency exit. So, if you are unable to fulfil your goals, you should have an alternative ready that will support you financially. The keyword is confidence – you will face many barriers, but with confidence alone can you break these barriers and keep going!
Opposition to acceptance
When I told my family that I would be participating in a social media competition, my dad was against the decision. However, three days later, he sent me a voice note – five minutes long – cautioning me about people in the competition whom I did not know, as well as giving my participation the green light. My entire family was with me all through the competition and was thrilled when I won it. A lot of people do not regard social media well because many users do not do things that are appropriate. However I showed my family that I do things which are worthwhile, and this earned me much respect from everyone.
My wife was someone I had known for a long time. She, too, was with me throughout this journey. We got married after I returned from Ireland and we hope to be parents in the months ahead.