What started as a hobby soon became her life. After graduating from the American University in Dubai in 2013 with a degree in marketing, hoping to land the perfect job, Hanan Al Sammak faced two years of unemployment. She filled her time by volunteering at the Rashid Hospital in Dubai. Touched by the kindness that one sick patient offered another, she was inspired to give more, and in her own way, bring a positive change to youths’ lives.
Hanan then wrote self-help articles and uploaded them to her blog, which was followed by a YouTube channel that she launched in 2014, where she was able to reach more people and present her ideas in video.
Today, the 25-year-old Emirati has more than 89,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel and is a certified trainer in human development, a speaker and a lecturer. She is also the author of Hayatech, which translates to “your life” in Arabic, a self-help book infused with her personal life stories, wherein Hanan shares technical steps towards a more positive outlook on life.
Along with her mother, Hanan also co-founded and is the vice president of Heart Masters for Training and Consultancies Foundation. The foundation’s aim is to emphasize the importance of positive thinking through the various training programs and workshops that they offer.
We sat with the vibrant Hanan, where we discussed the perceptions of self-development and life coaching in the Gulf region.
What is your definition of a life coach? The term is still ambiguous in the region, and a lot of people cannot differentiate between a life coach and a psychologist.
I agree that lots of people can’t tell the difference between a coach and a psychologist, which can be challenging when it comes to clients. A life coach focuses on the present moment and how they can help the individual to move forward with their life. A life coach focuses on the strengths of that individual. A psychologist takes the patient back to his past and focuses on fixing weaknesses.
Since you started your journey, how have you seen the perception of self-development and going to a life coach in the Gulf region change over the years?
People in the GCC are more open to change now. I guess it’s because of social media and how life coaches are able to share their services and make it appealing to the audience. Getting help is much easier nowadays, and positive thinking is actually becoming a trend, especially now that the UAE has a Minister of Happiness now. Another reason may be that life is becoming too challenging and demanding, which definitely has an impact on people’s wellbeing and stress levels, which in turn makes them more open to seeking help.
With regards to self-development, what areas are your viewers, readers and clients more interested in than others?
The needs and questions vary, as my viewers and readers are from different age groups, so there are students who seek help with their studying methods, and there are people suffering from breakups. Mostly, however, it is people who are suffering from depression and seeking more ways to become happier.
What is the demographic of your viewers, readers and the people who enrol in your foundation’s programs?
The age groups of my viewers are mainly from 25-34 old age group, followed by the 18-24, then the 35-44 age group. Top nationalities are from the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Iraq and Morocco.
Good habits are best developed at a young age. Do you conduct or plan to conduct workshops or sessions for school students to help them think more positively?
Of course. I already started giving lectures and workshops to school, students and it has been great!
When do you think should a person start looking at self-development?
As soon as possible; the moment someone becomes aware of the need to develop themselves.
Do you think about launching podcasts for those on the go especially that you have turned your book into an audio book?
It’s in my future plans, and will comprise of daily reminders and tips on how to live a more fulfilling life.
How do you seek inspiration and know what topics/areas would interest your readers and viewers?
I am inspired by the large amounts of questions from my readers, and I address those through my videos and book.
Tell us about your upcoming book.
It will be a self-help book as well but in a storytelling format.