real life story of adnan manjal hissah ec abu dhabi

Tell me a bit about yourself. What do you want the world to know about YOU?

I was born and raised in cosmopolitan Jeddah, and consider Florida my second home. Growing up there definitely had an impact on me. I am a combination of many things that make up whom I am and how I’ve changed. From lessons and experiences I’ve been through, people who have had an impact on me (negative and positive), and the cultures I’ve consumed and habits that I’ve acquired.

Attending university in Switzerland for a good part of seven years, a country I’ve never been to prior, with 2 internships there, taught me a lot about the importance of self reliance, taking responsibilities for ones actions and come to terms with consequences. These lessons I find to have been quite foreign to me at the time and most of my Saudi peers growing up. It opened my eyes to how sheltered our life growing up in Jeddah was, between private schools and summer travels. But it also taught me how to interact and appreciate drastic cultural differences, not just as a Saudi studying in Switzerland, but all the students from around the world I was interacting with daily. Attending university in a foreign country away from one’s parents and safety net, I find to be a great way to grow up.

Now I live in Panamá, speak four languages, and travel often for work and pleasure, and in my mid-thirties, I often find myself reflecting on my past experiences, especially those in my childhood and university years, and how they have impacted me.

As a DJ, my musical journey started at a very young age. I remember discovering Madonna at age 4, after “borrowing” that cassette tape from my uncle without him knowing. A few years later, I even remember going to a record store in Jeddah and buying my first CD with my allowance. Discovering and collecting music came naturally to me after that. And sharing that music became my passion. Even though I became a DJ much later in life compared to most DJs, but every step of the way there, I’ve always made sure to share music I love with friends; recording mixtapes, then CDs, and MP3 files, now on SoundCloud. Making people dance, transmitting how a track or song makes me feel to someone else, I believe, is a very profound feeling.

Describe a typical day in your life.

I think the best way to start your day is to wake up early. I’m a morning person in every sense, and usually start my day at 6:30, and take my time to prepare my coffee by grinding the beans just before brewing (I am a big coffee lover). I take great pleasure in drinking my coffee and reading the news. Then I head to my CrossFit box, and sweat as much as I can. Breakfast comes much later in the day. Due to the nature of my work and where I live, I have the fortune of working from home. As a DJ, my afternoons are always dedicated to music; finding and discovering new tracks, organizing my digital music library, preparing for a mixtape to record or the weekend ahead where I would be DJing at a club. I try to be active all day, and clock in at least ten-thousand steps. I make it a point to have dinner early, watch a movie or a series, before I go to bed at around 23:00. Even though I don’t often succeed, I try my best to get 7 hours of sleep.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced during your journey to where you are today?

One can interpret that question in many ways; my career in e-commerce, or my career as a DJ, etc, but I will choose to make about my personal journey, which I think in many ways contributes to everything else.

Growing up, I’ve learned and successfully always managed to create a very extrovert and confident façade. But in reality I am quite the opposite. I’ve alway thought that appearing more confident was a way to protect myself from disappointments in people, it was a survival skill. Getting older (I am 36 now), I’ve made it a mission of mine, everyday if possible, to focus today on learning from my past and present on how to better myself for my future. I’ve taught myself not to regret but to learn from the past. Never to think it’s too late to start a change or commit to a project. I believe self-improvement is a daily activity, and in fact should only stop when we cease to exist.

Who would you describe as a role model and why?

I’ve always felt the term role model is a loaded one, and never really identified one singular person as such throughout my life. I’ve realized that for every aspect of my life, I have a different role model, as DJ, career mentors, fitness coaches, musicians, philosophers and activists, those that feed my intellectual hunger, and those that defend humane values.

But if I had to choose one role model today, it would be anyone and everyone who is documents human experiences, past and present, for the rest of the world to view and learn from. Documentary makers, biographers, story tellers, journalists, even archeologists, and social scientists. I believe now more than ever they are whom we need the most today.

Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know.

I believe the best way to eradicate something is to openly talk about it. Society in Saudi  Arabia mistakingly taught us to exaggerate the value of privacy more than everything, and if we are struggling with anything, shame should keep us from talking about it openly with our friends and family. And I will take this opportunity to share that I’ve dealt with moderate depression constantly throughout myself. Many ups and downs. And the older I get, the more I educated myself about the subject, and talked about it with those closest to me, which has helped me better to deal with it. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally, and always dedicating time to spend with those I love and doing things I love, has been the biggest help I’ve ever had.

My best friends in particular, form whom I used to hide and never discuss this aspect of my life, opening up to them and feeling their empathy, was always a major factor is overcoming this challenge.

What is one piece of advice about how to cope with challenges/struggles you face in life that you would like to give to the world?

Here are some bits that I’ve gathered throughout the years from various sources that help me every day:

Always treat others the way you want to be treated. Focus on today for a better tomorrow. Reflect and learn from both negative and positive experiences. Always believe in yourself, be the best version of yourself, and be humble about it.

What is ONE word that you feel defines you? (It could be your profession, a personality trait, or a quality you possess).

Though it might be overused, but it’s been my constant drive; Passion.