When the increasingly popular field of life coaching took root in the UAE, it remained largely inaccessible to one of the UAE’s largest groups: people who speak only Arabic.
Moza Al Hameli, a 43-year-old Emirati life coach, aims to change all that.
She has just launched her Abu Dhabi-based training academy Azher, which offers sessions and workshops for those who seek to live a more meaningful life – with adjustments in tone, translation and, of course, language.
“There wasn’t much in Arabic in this field of mindfulness and meditation,” she says. “And often when it was given in English, it was too high-level and the information didn’t resonate with the attendees.”
A desert flower that thrives on the smallest amount of water provided the name for her academy.
“I would see them and think just how marvelous it was for beautiful flowers to bloom in the middle of nowhere and came up with the idea for my center. Azher means ‘to bloom’ which we want to make possible anytime, anywhere, under even the harshest of circumstances.”
Al Hameli’s approach has been adjusted from a traditional teacher-to-student model to more of a conversation among friends.
“It works better with the Arab groups,” she says. “I make sure they feel it is attainable and it is simple and just takes a bit of time and dedication.”
Al Hameli has also adjusted various terms that are common in the personal growth lexicon, so they are more relatable and accessible to Arabic speakers via translation.
For example “mindfulness” has become “al yaqza al zehnia”, which refers to the awakening of consciousness. That makes more sense to Arabic speakers, she says.
“You understand that you are awakening a different part of you, once buried under all the daily stresses and thoughts.”
Meditation becomes “al tamul”, which revolves around the concept of sitting back, observing, contemplating and self-reflecting.
“Each language and culture has its own tools to reach inner peace and balance,” says Al Hameli.
One of the most common issues she sees is Emiratis who believe they need to travel abroad to feel better.
“Part of the unhappiness is caused by social media,” says Al Hameli. “We sit and compare and see what we don’t have, instead of focusing on all the things and blessings we have.”
Al Hameli, who has two master’s degrees, spent two decades working in government in IT, strategy and executive offices.
In 2016 she was chosen to participate in the CEO of Happiness and Positivity Program launched by the UAE National Program for Happiness and Wellbeing.It was a development that changed everything.
“I have been searching and seeking more and more all throughout my life,” she says. “And it was finally in this field, in self development, in happiness and positivity that I found my calling.”
Next, Al Hameli delved deep into the field of self development. She earned a diploma in Positive Psychology and Wellbeing from the Langley Group Institute in Australia and became a certified life coach through the Foundation of Holistic Life Coaching in the US.
For the next two years, she delivered more than 30 workshops and lectures on happiness and positivity. And in 2018 she quit her job in the government to focus on developing her new line of work full-time.
Al Hameli points out that she doesn’t give her clients advice. Instead much of her work is acting as a trusted guide.
“I want them to find their own answer and to self-reflect as only you can change you,” she explains. “I ask questions that help them find the answers they are looking for from within themselves.”
The reason for unhappiness or dissatisfaction with a person or situation is often buried deep within, says Al Hameli.
“If one doesn’t feel beautiful deep down within oneself, it is hard to find beauty in others. We have all gone through those phases and the effort to find happiness and remain balanced is a work in progress every day.”
When not sitting with others, Al Hameli works on her own wellbeing – a task she wants her clients to understand is never complete.
“I went through the same stages as most of those who I meet,” she says. “Feeling unsatisfied, trying to find more meaning in life. So therefore I understand and can guide them to find the happiness and fulfilment I found.”
A big part of her personal work is continually coming back to the present moment, which she believes is the key to enjoying life.
“There is just so much,” she says. “There is actually no reason to ever be bored when you are present and aware.”
One of her favorite spots is the beach, where she likes to meditate.
“I just sit and breathe,” she says. “I observe my thoughts and pray. I am still just a student. I am learning more about myself every day and more about the true meaning of life.”
Rym Tina Ghazal is a cross-cultural and Arab history expert. She is also a peace ambassador, thought/youth leader, documentarian, lecturer and author for young readers. As an award-winning journalist with more than 15 years’ experience, she was one of the first Arab women to cover war zones in the Middle East, in 2003.