Companies: Legend Group:
Bang & Olufsen
Property Portfolios International
Aficionados PR & Comms
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Mustafa Abbas: I’m a filmmaker and businessman. I write and I direct films. My latest project, The Long Game, is currently making rounds within the international film circuit. So far, the film has won 14 awards by the grace of God. I also run Legend Group, which was founded by my dad in 1990. We started off as general traders and distributors for Bang Olufsen. Today, we are one of the oldest distributors of the brand and have exclusive rights in the UAE. Our flagship store is located in the Fashion Avenue of Dubai Mall.
I also expanded the company and founded Chivalry: Gentlemen’s Salon, a barbershop for men in Downtown Dubai, as well as Aficionados PR & Comms, an agency to support local and homegrown businesses. We also own Property Portfolios International, a real estate brokerage and management. I also own a leather brand with my cousin called 35 Burgundy, which has an exclusive clientele.
How did you get started as a filmmaker?
I think most kids try to make movies at a young age. For me, it was always a passion that ran deeper. Sure, it was fun too, but I always cared more than my friends about the flow of the story and the characters.
What do you consider your biggest achievement in the film industry so far?
I believe I have yet to achieve this one.
Tell us about your journey into entrepreneurship
The hardest question for me to answer is when people ask me what my hobbies are, because I genuinely do not know or cannot understand why you would not be passionate about what you’re doing. There’s nothing you cannot do, so I’m very passionate, and I believe that the mistake a lot of people make is containing their passions. I set them free, and with a bit of tweaking, like to believe where we are going is worthwhile as a business.
How do you define success?
Success is whatever it means to you. To me, it’s about making a difference, having an impact, but above all, continuing to become the best version of myself as much as possible—as a man, or an artist, or a businessman.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Following my passions and making a difference. I have never done anything for the sake of competition. Everything I have done is because I believe there was a specific amount of room in this world for it.
Tell us about a time you experienced failure and how you dealt with it.
There are no failures on the way to success, only lessons. Of course, there are obstacles, and plenty of them, but in hindsight, they, too, become lessons. Failure is to consciously stop pursuing the thing that you desire. To give up on the very thing your heart beats for—this is the only failure.
What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to become an entrepreneur?
Do not share your big ideas with negative people. Do not have deep or meaningful conversations with small-minded people. Do not pour your heart out to anyone who will bring you down. Many of these people mean well, but their version of being ‘realistic’ is most likely different than yours.
If you believe in yourself, congratulations. It means you’re on your way. If you share that belief prematurely with someone negative or with a limited mindset, their energy and their disbelief will infect you subconsciously, and this can kill your dreams and your plans. So my advice is to move forward, and keep moving forward. The right people will keep up with you, and you will meet more of them on your way.
Ironically, the same people you avoided telling your plans to will tell you how they always knew you’d make it. Set your values in order. Keep those in check. Don’t worry about the ‘how’ part so much. You will learn along the way. Remember why you started. You will get caught up in things that will make you question yourself—make you even regret—but remember why you started. Remember to take breaks. Breathe and continue. Real progress is not overnight. There are no overnight successes, nor is success the destination.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?
If you focus on growing the business, more than you focus on developing as a person, you will lose sight of things, and you cannot possibly create something worthwhile—even if it makes millions. Invest in yourself. Read and listen to advice you believe to be valid and valuable to you, either from people dead or alive.
If you were to write a film about yourself, what would you name it?
Who/what inspires you with awe?
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
How do you look after your mental health?
I meditate and I have chai (tea).
What’s that one quote you live by?
“A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”
Learn more about Mustafa Abbas at the website www.mustafaabbas.com and follow him on Instagram: @mustafa_abbas