Playtime among kids may seem trivial to some, but for a Qatari entrepreneur who has already completed several endurance races and ultramarathons, allowing children to engage in sports and other types of physical activity may be the best way to prepare them for the challenges of life.
Khalifa al-Misnad is a self-confessed serial entrepreneur, adventurer, and aspiring philanthropist with a long list of hobbies that currently includes photography, kitesurfing, and running. He also worked as an in-house legal counsel at Qatar Petroleum after studying Mechanical Engineering and then earning a Masters in Law.
But despite his busy schedule, al-Misnad also makes time to challenge himself through events like ‘Samla’, a locally-grown ultramarathon that translates to ‘perseverance’, which, according to him, changed his attitude towards running.
Khalifa al-Misnad competing in Samla
Not only is al-Misnad running, but he running for a cause to support different causes and organisations, particularly ‘Save the Dream’, the global initiative that aims to promote and protect the values and integrity of sport in young people.
“As sports has played such a significant role in my life, I felt that bringing awareness to an organisation like Save the Dream was important as they are a non-profit organisation that helps promote sports with the youth. They also do some amazing work with children that may not have the opportunity to play sports due to war, financial reasons, handicaps, and the like.
“I believe that children through sports can build the right foundation early in life to build upon in order for them to be better able to reach their potential. With that being said, I’d encourage anyone who would like to volunteer and help in any way by learning more about the organisation by visiting them on www.save-the-dream.org,” al-Misnad told Gulf Times
Asked about the lessons learned from joining Samla and how they could be applied to day-to-day life, al-Misnad said: “Excuse the pun, but I’ve learned to take things in stride and truly appreciate the simplicities of life. I’ve noticed year-by-year that the more I detach myself from problems or things, the more grounded I become. For example, the first year I took on Samla I had immensely over-packed, which is problematic when you need to carry all that weight for nearly 200km.
“The same applies to life when we tend to attach ourselves not only to tangible things, but also to intangible thoughts, which impede our progress. I’ve shed this weight from year-to-year both in the race and in my life, and I’ve grown to appreciate my true necessities and the beauty that life provides once these necessities are met.”
He added: “I believe these lessons can definitely be imparted onto children and it is the reason I believe sports can act as an important platform for children to break down their mental walls and discover their potential and true happiness.”
To support other children and other organisations, al-Misnad said he visited Nepal two years ago where he witnessed and was “touched by the spirit of the Nepalese people and what they had to endure” after the devastation wrought by the 2015 earthquake.
“I established contact with some grassroots initiatives to help educate children in Nepal who were not financially capable, and the goal of one of my previous runs in Samla was to raise funding for their tuition. With the help of some amazing people in my life, we were able to raise one year’s worth of tuition for 20 students,” he said.