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Interview with Think Up Founder Saleh Al Braik: The Only Way to Think is Up!

Saleh Al Braik

Inspiration is the first thing that comes to mind when one looks at the initiative of ‘Think Up’, which has been making strides lately in the region.  Think Up, the brainchild of Emirati national Saleh Al Braik, was initially an idea that took the longest time to effectively develop into a creative idea that would benefit the GCC communities.

Al Braik is right now, without question, one of the most inspirational individuals I have come across. An avid social media user with 22,000 + followers on his twitter account @FearlessinDubai, it comes as no surprise the impact his new project has created in the region.

A month prior to the soft launch which was on 8th August 2011, supporters waited anxiously for the big reveal of the project that was much talked about and less than a month later, on 4th September 2011, Think Up was officially launched.

In the 23 years of his life, Al Braik had witnessed the various changes that have occurred throughout his community in regards to expanding their visions for a better future. Inspired and motivated to give back to the city that had given him so much, he decided to come up with a way to give back to the community.

Months later ‘Think Up’ was born, an initiative that is set to be ‘The Voice of the Future’ and whose objective is to recognize and promote GCC talent, aimed at inspiring GCC individuals to come forward and share their talents with the rest of the world, but more importantly focused on inspiring individuals to take their future in their own hands.

In our interview, Al Braik reveals his latest project, passion, challenges and future plans.

How did the name ‘Think Up’ come about?

Think Up LogoInitially the tentative name of the project was ‘Project Fearless.’ Keeping in mind the importance of choosing the right brand name, we wanted to pick something that would one day lead the way and be part of the youth of the GCC. It took me approximately a month of discussing it with friends before a very close friend suggested the name ‘Think Up’; it was not only short and catchy, but it had captured exactly what the project was all about. Think Up aims to collect inspiring GCC Nationals that have ‘thought’ about a passionate idea and had proceeded to making it a reality, which could ‘Up’ lift and inspire those around them.

There is always an interesting story behind an idea. What inspired you to create Think Up?

For as long as I can remember, I had always wanted in some way, shape or form to give back and give thanks to a community that had provided me with countless opportunities. Being born and raised in Dubai, and when going overseas to study, I would hold my head up high when telling others about where I was from. I strongly wanted to be a part of the growth and development of not only my city, but also the GCC cities as well. It wasn’t until after I joined Twitter, which made me realize there were numerous talented individuals, who have inspired me to become a better person. Unfortunately, regardless of their talent, they were not recognized globally or in their own communities. This is when I decided to take it upon myself to start a platform that would bring all these individuals into one site and give them the recognition that they truly deserve.

Talk me through, in detail, the concept of Think Up.

As previously mentioned Think Up aims to highlight the talented generation of the GCC.  The initiative has been effectively divided into 8 specific pillars that creates a dynamic environment for our generation and enables them to express themselves freely concerning topics they are passionate about. Right now, we are an intermediary that will help individuals raise awareness for their skills, projects, expeditions and many more.

The 8 pillars of Think Up are:

Think Big: This is focused on the individuals that our generation can look up to. They dreamed ‘big’ and have achieved it.

Think Help: This is focused on those individuals who have started their own initiatives that give back and support our GCC community.

We Think: This is aimed at the writers of our generation. It’s about time that ‘our’ voice is heard on matters that concern ‘our’ future.

Think Smart: This is targeted towards giving a helping hand to our creative students of the GCC. We are here to raise awareness for your projects!

Think Skills: This focuses on highlighting talented individuals and showcasing their work in photography, sports, art, food and more.

Think Brave: Fear is a state of mind and we have individuals in the GCC that have stepped forward to overcome their fears in daring expeditions.

Think Events: If there is an event tied to a good cause, then we are here not only to promote you but to also take part!

I Think: This is where you find out more information concerning who runs our initiative. Here we keep you posted with our own personal project and fan-made art/animations.

How do you think Think Up will help people develop their talents at a level in which they would see improvements?

Essentially, once we host these individuals with impeccable talents, we are creating a database of people that can share their expertise and knowledge with each other. Artists could then learn new techniques that they could incorporate into their own projects. Moreover, someone who is starting up a project could possibly require other skills which they themselves would not possess, this is where they contact the people that have been hosted on the site and this in turn would help them to complete their project. In general, it is all about presenting your work and growing together as a community.

So far, Think Up is seen as a platform that strongly supports the GCC, do you ever see it gaining international success?

Think UpIn all honesty, yes I do. The platform is not only here for the GCC community, but also for the entire world to look into. I want people from various countries across the globe, who are curious about the happenings of the GCC, to come across the site and be overwhelmed. By doing this, the stereotypical way of thinking is automatically broken and this provides a new window that they can relate to. Furthermore, Think Up is a model that can be adopted in any country or region. All that we are doing is focusing on talented individuals that are born and raised in the same country as us, so why not do the same in your hometown!

At the start of a project it’s possible to be presented with challenges to overcome, was it difficult in starting up?

One of the initial problems was the fact we wanted this to be a community website, meaning that all of our information is crowd-sourced. We look into the community to help feed us news that they hear, events that they are hosting and projects/skills that they would like to share with the rest of the GCC community. Our main fear was not knowing whether we would be getting the support to the level that would enable us to run a full-fledged website. However, our fears disappeared as we were overwhelmed by the support that we got from our fellow GCC brothers and sisters, as well as GCC citizens. On the other hand, my personal fear was finding a way to create a balance between my work and ‘Think Up’ life. I work from 7 am – 4 pm, 5 days a week as well as volunteering for my father’s investment company. However, I soon realized that once you are passionate about something there is nothing that can stop you. You soon find out that you ‘will’ end up making time for it, even when it seems impossible. So far so good!

What’s next for Think Up?

What’s next? Well I can tell you one thing. Our main goal is to one day become an entity of our own. We would like to grow as a community website, to gain the power to throw our own events and initiatives, where we bring forth talented GCC volunteers and members together in each GCC state and inspire an entire generation. We can only go up from here!

–    Nawal Riyami

For more information on the Think Up initiative visit www.thinkup.ae

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