You’ve already heard of Dari AlHuwail. We recently covered his restaurant Hashtag, the tiny place with the great burgers in Kuwait City. As you’ll discover though, there’s a lot more to this man than merely burgers.
After studying at the University of Arizona, Dari was later motivated to set up Hashtag with his dear friend (and owner of Solo Pizza Napulitana) Amr AlRefai. By doing so he wanted to gain practical business experience but also to emphasize the important social impact that businesses have towards their community. He finds trying to please all tastes the hardest part about being a restaurant owner but with Hashtag’s motto of ‘Life is Simple… Enjoy it!’ he hopes to convince people that simple is good. He tells me, “There are many great parts to this but the highlights include the connections and different people you meet, the experimentation and creativity, as well as tag-teaming and “partnering in crime!”
A participant in LoYAC’s first ever summer program, Dari has always been an active volunteer. It was instilled in him from childhood and LoYAC helped cement this by requiring each student to volunteer their time. He finds happiness for himself by doing so and feels he helps and empowers others too.
It was while raising awareness of HIV/AIDS on a volunteering assignment in Zanzibar that Dari got his first diving license and it’s been a major part of his life ever since. “I am proud to be from the ranks of ‘Guardians of the Sea’ serving my country and protecting planet earth,” he says of his involvement with the Kuwait Dive Team – joining had been a dream since high school. He’s now involved in marine rescue operations; salvage boatlifting, underwater cleanups, coral reef monitoring and mooring buoy maintenance. He even represented the Kuwait Dive Team at the first TEDx event in Kuwait and hopes to host more events in the near future on issues such as health, environment and youth.
How does he manage this balancing act of a life? “I manage my schedule and follow an agenda when my day is packed but every now and then I do become spontaneous and just do something fun as a break! I do live the 7-Habits “Put first things first” and tackle my ‘Big Rocks’ first.
One of his ‘big rocks’ at the moment is the PlusOne initiative. Dari says, “It’s an innovative business model that allows my enterprise to engage with the community and give back as part of our daily operations and not a seasonal donation for a charitable cause. It’s core to the business!” The idea was inspired by ‘Draw a Smile’, a charitable campaign led by Ms. Bibi Al-Ayoub. But inspiration was also drawn from something a friend, Mariam AlFaresi, told him. In some European cafes customers would pay for their coffee and pay for another one to be on the wall. Those who can’t afford coffee can walk in and pick one from the wall. The PlusOne website sums up the process; while paying for his/her meal at a PlusOne participating restaurant, the customer may choose to donate KD 1, an amount that the restaurant owner will also provide. The end result would be a full meal that has been paid for by the customer and restaurant. The meal, prepared by the participating restaurant, would be offered to blue-collared workers in Kuwait so they too would enjoy the same quality, delicious food that the customer ordered.
For those thinking that this may just be a Ramadan initiative, Dari says, “Certainly not! PlusOne is here to stay, Inshallah. The beauty of it is that it’s a creative concept and flexible model that offers support and guidance to any business, but they run the show and are equally involved in it with their customers and the kind hearts that volunteer their time, effort, and skills to PlusOne.” The smile he sees on less fortunate workers on the street when they dig into one of his burgers makes it all worthwhile.
Dari sees a shift in attitudes with more people in Kuwait getting involved in volunteer work. “Many people around us are genuinely kind and want to do good in this world. Some require guidance or hints, others require some hand-holding, but all in all there are many GOOD people!”
What does the future hold for Dari AlHuwail? He’s off to the States to do his PhD and hopes to return to a teaching position at Kuwait University. He also wants to see his initiatives grow and even start up a technology firm!
I’ll leave you with a phrase Dari encourages you to look up and live by:
Dum spiro spero.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Doing something adventurous and CRAZY! I can settle however for an island getaway filled with water sports and activities with family and friends.
What is your greatest fear?
Not being able to be active in the society or failing to help others.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
This one is a bit difficult, but I think it’s my impatience at times with imperfections.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Some people’s disrespect to time and other people’s time.
Which living person do you most admire?
There are many honestly that are close to me. From my immediate family: Ma, Dad, and my uncle. Around me are leaders of Kuwait Dive Team, Direct Aid, and LoYAC.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Probably this would be my persistence and love for volunteerism.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
When were you happiest?
I try to be happy all the time, but this would definitely be after a great and tiresome achievement that cost blood and sweat, sometimes literally!!
Which talent would you most like to have?
Surfing and Sky-Diving … For now!
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
Alhimdillah I’m proud of all my achievements, but I’m excited for what is yet to come, inshallah.
Where would you most like to live?
I must say I really like it in our beloved country Kuwait.
If you are a business that wants to get involved or an individual who would like to lend a helping hand to PlusOne visit plusonekuwait.com.