Photography and all that jazz in Dubai for Archimedia CEO

Our Co-founder tells us what it takes to grow the business and lets us in on a few the things he does to unwind.

The Egyptian national Omar Hikal, 46, is the chief executive of Archimedia, a company that offers smart home solutions, lighting control and dedicated home cinema systems. After graduating business school at Boston University, Mr Hikal did his executive studies at Insead and Harvard Business School. In 2004, he started Archimedia in Dubai. Now 11 years later, the company has expanded into six different markets.

What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?

I like listening to music. I listen to violin. I would sit around for a couple of hours every three to four days and just listen to music. I am also a photographer. I spend a lot of my free time taking pictures wherever I am. I also travel to take pictures. Most recently I was in Cuba. I also like shooting in Egypt, Vietnam and Cambodia. I do travel portraiture. I also so some landscape. Most of the time I take photographs of people. I love watching movies too. It doesn’t happen very often, but whenever I have a couple of hours to spare, I would go to see a movie

What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?

Definitely photography. It’s my hobby and my therapy. I am about to launch an exhibition in London. I have exhibited in Egypt before and I am planning to exhibit in the UAE too.

What can’t you live without?

I can’t live without my kids. I have two sons, one is nine years old and the other is 14. I would not like to live without music or art in general, especially these days because there’s a lot of terrible news around us. Art is what makes us look into the future and be hopeful.

What do you consider the secret to your success?

Passion. I did a lot of things before starting my business. It was mostly corporate: business development, sales, marketing. Archimedia was my first entrepreneur venture. It came to the point that I realised that I wanted to do something that I care about. Things fell into place and I ran with it.

What advice would you offer other budding entrepreneurs (people starting out in your business)?

It must be hard work. It’s not easy. Pick the right partners. Pick the right people. It’s about the three “Ps”: people, partners and passion. At the beginning you have to put in a lot of hours. You don’t have start and finish times. You don’t have weekends. You just kind of go with it, but hopefully it pays off.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

You just need to know when to disconnect. For me, I struggle now with technology. You are always online. You are always accessing your email. I struggle with that. I struggle with shutting it off or putting it down for a while. I have to make a considered effort to have the time to give to my family and also do my personal pursuits versus constantly working. On vacations, I would try to find places where there is no network. I was in Cuba for 10 days and there was no network. I loved it. It was fantastic. How do you relax after the working day? After a long day, I can’t wait to get home and put on some jazz to relax. If you weren’t running your business what else would you be doing? I would be a full-time photographer, taking pictures in Africa or in India. But I am very happy doing what I am doing.