Mohamed is a serial entrepreneur who launched his first digital agency in his second year of undergrad at New York University Abu Dhabi, started his millennial publication Gulf Elite a year later with over 40,000 monthly readers, and published 2 books by the end of his undergraduate studies. He is currently co-founder and CEO of VUL9 Security Solutions, the region’s fastest growing cybersecurity company currently helping UAE tech giants such as Careem and Aramex better secure their platforms and data, as well as assisting various marquee brands in the UAE better defend against cyber attacks and cyber breaches.
Mohamed has been recognised “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by Arabian Business, “10 top African change leaders” by African Leadership University, “One of 7 youth transforming the world” by Spain-based organisation Pangea and was the youngest entrepreneur to ever be featured on the cover of Forbes Middle East Magazine.
Mohamed is also well known among international student circles on Facebook thanks to his founding of “Opportunities for Students” group, a Facebook group with over 66,000 international student members where daily opportunities (internships, competitions, conferences, scholarships) are shared for the benefit of the student population. Mohamed’s work directly impacts over 120,000 youth across the globe.
Mohamed is a published author, with his first book PANGEA released in Spain, followed by his Amazon Best Seller The Art of the Grind: What They Don’t Teach You in College.
What did they say?
One of 10 African Change Leaders Who You Should KnowALU Marketing and Communications Team
One of 7 most influential youth transforming the world!
As one of the UAE’s most impressive achievers in the growing startup and small-medium business sector, Mohamed is one of the entrepreneurs that have made an impact on the business landscape of the Middle East.Arabian Business Startup Awards
Mohamed, a successful entrepreneur who is an international reference, is one of the youth who will be leading the world!La Razon
Mohamed Amine Belarbi is already making his mark on the world!United World College
Let’s start from the beginning, where did I spend my childhood?
I spent my childhood mostly in Morocco up till the age of 17. I was a true definition of introvert, asocial and nerdy. The peculiarities of the Moroccan social environment make it hard if not impossible to think of venturing outside sciences and engineering, so my ultimate goal from an early age was to secure those good grades and go on to attend a good university in Morocco or in France if I was lucky, before ending up in a regular job that would pay enough for me to live a standard life.
I had no interest in business, let alone entrepreneurship. It’s hard to believe that I run multiple startups and speak at various entrepreneurship conferences today. The shift and transformation was mind blowing to say the least!
What are some of the biggest adversities I’ve faced while building my own path?
I faced a lot of challenges throughout my life. I used to spend most of the time in Morocco stuck in my room working on school assignments or reading books. I didn’t go out much and was awkward in social gatherings. This obviously made me miss out on so many opportunities, I wouldn’t go to interesting events just because I wasn’t comfortable being around a lot of people. Moreover English was not my forte. Now all these hurdles were tough to overcome, and living in Norway in an english speaking community with constant interactions made it easier for me to handle myself in social gatherings and led me to improve my english dramatically.
Being an Arab and Muslim has had its challenges as well, from awkwardly avoiding a drink when your client offers it to you, to dealing with US based clients who don’t have much trust in a Muslims and Arabs, let alone doing business with them. But again, I do believe in the statement “Be so good they can’t help but notice”, and I work hard to be the best at what I do so that my nationality, religion, or mother tongue become secondary in the assessment of my performance.
What’s my driving purpose?
I want to leave a positive legacy for others to be inspired through. I know I have been blessed with so many opportunities in life when others couldn’t afford to even go to school or have a decent meal. I was given so much in such a short time, and it would be obscene to think that I have no responsibility towards my fellow man.
My goal is to be remembered as the person who inspired generations to believe in their dreams and get out there to make things happen. I want people to remember you are the one who can choose to do whatever you want because you are invincible and limitless. We are our own limitations, we are our own dream killers, and once we realize that, then we will be liberated from the chains of self-doubt and self-questioning. Only then will everyone be able to achieve whatever he or she wants to achieve.
My view on taking risks
I love risk, and that’s something that I feel defines me most. I took the risk of becoming an enemy of the state when I visited a refugee camp and a military group in the middle of the Algerian desert as part of my research (Four Moroccans visited before me, all of whom have either ended up in prison or were exiled). I took risk in saying yes to clients even before knowing what I had to do or how to do it. I took risks by coming to the United Arab Emirates instead of going to the US for college, and I took a risk by putting my time and effort into launching ventures I had no guarantee will succeed. I believe rewards are found in risky undertakings, and I believe that fortune favors the bold.
My take on perfection
I hate being perfect at the expense of getting things done on time. A lot of people lose opportunities left and right because they work so hard on getting something to look shiny until they realize they missed a deadline or they got someone angry. I believe in practicality, and I would always prioritize delivering something rather than holding onto it because it’s not good enough.