Saleh Al Braik

Helping Emiratis be heard on an international advertising scene is what Saleh Al Braik, the founder of ThinkUp GCC, does best. The entrepeneur reveals his push to elevate culture and the arts in Dubai, as well as his secret spot to relax in the emirate

The main reason why I decided to start up Think Up was that I felt the Emirati community, being such a small percentage of the overall population, were underrepresented. I wanted to create a platform for Emiratis with talents and ideas to be heard, where they have an active role in shaping what organisations advertise and be a part of their campaigns. It started off as a reporting website where we reported stories of up-and-coming Emiratis in the country, and then slowly transformed into an agency where we consult clients on how they can connect with an Emirati audience.

Recent projects that Think Up has worked on that really display art and culture in Dubai to its fullest include our collaboration with the company du hosting a photography workshop that featured the famous Kuwaiti photographer Aziz Al Duwisan, as well as our profile of the young Bahraini comic book artist, Bader Al Shirawi. We are a huge supporter of young talent, and also recently collaborated with Saks Fifth Avenue to display the photographs of three talented Emiratis in their men’s store, following the #MyDubai movement started by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

My hobbies are reading and running – the latter of which can be slightly tricky to do during the summer months. Reading would be something that would calm me down, or better yet, an escape from this world to another. I enjoy socialising and firmly believe that networking should be considered a hobby if you're living in Dubai.

I want to show the world that we are more than just buildings and horse races, but a city of artists, musicians, actors and directors

A typical free day in Dubai would be trying out new things with my family. I strongly feel that everyone needs some time off to fuel up for their working life, and I don't see any better way than being surrounded by your loved ones. We would do some of the touristy activities that we drive by every day but never get the chance to do, like visiting Ferrari world, going on a desert safari, or taking a tour of the Burj Khalifa.

I have a few secret, and maybe not-so-secret spots that I like to visit in Dubai. The old souk and Bastakiya side of Dubai is great to revisit at any time if you're looking to go back in time to simpler times. There's a cafe called The Creek there which is the perfect bridge between old and new Dubai. Another place is the Desert Palm resort. A lot of people don't notice it when they drive by but it's perfect for sitting back and relaxing, with a nice view of their horse ranch. A final location that I feel is also underrated is the Park Hyatt, which has a beautiful view of the creek.

Most people that I meet when I travel know Dubai for the obvious reasons, whether it’s the rising property market, the Burj Al Arab or Burj Khalifa, or even the success of its aviation industry. This is one of my reasons to create Think Up, to provide a story of the lives of the people of Dubai. To show the world that we are more than just buildings and horse races, but a city of artists, musicians, actors and directors. Dubai is a city of vibrant culture and heritage, and one that can accommodate the youths who are filled with ideas and motivated to leave a positive impact on the world.