Sayed Ali Zakir Naqvi, better known in the volunteering circle as 'Speed Ali' moved from Dubai to Doha in 2007. After working in a QP subsidiary for nine years in human resources, he left the company and started his own business. Today, this Pakistani entrepreneur owns two companies and is a partner in two others, with branch offices in London, UK and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
But, we’re not going to talk about his successful entrepreneurship today, we are talking to Speed Ali about Qatar Volunteers and his volunteering work, which is what he is most known for in the community in Qatar. Did you know, that even while running successful businesses as an entrepreneur, the philanthropist in him is always trying to create job opportunities for others, especially in his own businesses; that's how dedicated he is to helping those in need.
ILQ had an exclusive Q&A session with this dynamic founder of Qatar Volunteers and here is what we learned about Speed Ali, the community member who believes in giving back to the community and uniting its people to support different causes in Qatar and beyond.
When I moved to Doha Qatar in September 2007, I became associated with an online social group in Qatar. In April 2008, Friday morning I was reading one of the Qatar newspapers and came across a news about a fire that had broken out in one of the labour camps in Doha. I decided to visit the place and see if I can be of any help to anyone in camp. When I got there, I found that there were 700 workers who lost everything because the fire had gutted all their porta cabins. I came back home and wrote the story on the social group. Within an hour, hundreds of people commented that they wanted to help.
I was new in Qatar and did not know many people, so some of the online social group members send me messages asking if I needed help in organising the collection and distribution of things the workers would need.
This is how I came up with the idea of starting a volunteering group in Qatar to provide a platform to all the communities living here to help and support those who are poor and needy or less privileged in our society.
20 April 2008 – Qatar Volunteers was established.
When I started Qatar Volunteers in 2008, there was hardly any such known or active online community group providing a platform to bring communities together to help others. I can proudly sit here and tell you that we are the only volunteering group in Qatar which is the most active. QV’s campaigns are conducted on an annual basis, unless there’s a particular issue that needs awareness or support. If there is, Speed and a couple of other volunteers brainstorm a plan and then execute it.
Qatar Volunteers has grown from a small group of 20 - 30 active volunteers to 25,000+ volunteers as seen on our Facebook page and group. We are one the most recognised and diverse volunteering communities in Qatar. Over the past 11 years we have also supported many corporate organisations and NGOs in their local and international events and campaigns. We have also been featured in major newspapers and social media in Qatar and international media such as Reuters.
There is a saying that a child sees his/her parents and when he grows up he/she does the same. When I was a child, my father used to take me to such events where he used to help people or whenever he wanted to give money to any poor or needy person, he used to give money to me and my siblings and asked us to give it to the needy person. All this instilled in me, the desire to help others, from an early age.
There are many ways one can volunteer like in sports, community events, musical events and in charity events. For me, I love to help those who are less privileged such a blue collar workers, needy and poor persons or families; helping such people inspires me. Also, I love to help and protect the environment by doing beach cleanups, planting trees or by reducing energy consumption, etc. I have also supported some of the animal welfare organisations in Qatar like QAWS.
I love volunteering because it’s more than spending one’s time actively participating in selfless acts or activities that benefit other people, it’s also about having a greater impact on society as a whole and on the environment.
Volunteering has changed my life style: I live a simple life now. I don’t spend money on unnecessary things because whenever I want to buy something, I think whether it is really necessary or not; I think of those who are poor and needy in my family, in my relatives, in my neighbours and in the community as a whole.
Over the past 11 years, I feel people are getting more involved in giving back to the community, due to our active and continuous involvement in engaging the communities. We see many of our volunteers who are inspired by our campaigns branch out and form their own community groups so that they can continue the mission.
I think it’s important to have a good work and home life balance by planning things well in advance. Usually, I also get my family involved in the volunteering activities, so we do it together and have fun at the same time.
I like photography, socialising and I am a dedicated animal lover. I also like to keep up-to-date with the latest news happening in Qatar. My passion is coming up with unique business ideas for Qatar and to create new opportunities for people.
There is a lot I have planned over the next few years in terms of my business, family and Qatar Volunteers. The FIFA World Cup 2022 is something I’m looking forward to being a part of to ensure things go smoothly with the help of our community of volunteers.
Yes, Qatar has become a well-known country over the past few years and I wish that the local and expat community continues to support with their dedication in giving back to the community - especially students and the younger generation - by actively participating in volunteering activities to enable them to become competent, employable, and better at meeting their learning objectives.
An act of kindness can change perceptions. If you’re looking to volunteer with Qatar Volunteers, register HERE.
For more information about Speed Ali and Qatar Volunteers, check out the following details:
Tel: +974 6660 4594
E-mail: [email protected]
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