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Why I Took My Dubai-Based Team To Work Out Of Zanzibar For Two Weeks The decision to take my team to Zanzibar wasn't just a change of location; it was a change of mindset- a reminder that as entrepreneurs, we have the power to create our own narrative, one that's bold, inspiring, and eternally curious.

By Natasha Al Fadhli Edited by Aby Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Coffee Communications
The Coffee Communications team

In the realm of entrepreneurship, where innovation and collaboration reign supreme, there comes a time when we must challenge the norms to breathe new life into our endeavors. With this intention, I embarked on an exhilarating journey with my Dubai-based team from Coffee Communications- a journey that took us from the bustling streets of Dubai to the serene shores of Zanzibar for two transformative weeks.

You might be wondering: why Zanzibar? Why disrupt the routine of a thriving communications agency to an island in East Africa? And the answer lies in a pursuit of innovation that refuses to be contained within the walls of convention. As the founder and CEO of Coffee Communications, I firmly believe that a willingness to break free from the ordinary is the very essence of progress.

Zanzibar, with its turquoise waters and vibrant culture, became our canvas for reimagining a working atmosphere. A typical office setting, no matter how creatively designed, can inadvertently restrict the flow of fresh ideas. By immersing ourselves in a different environment, we tapped into a wellspring of creativity that filled our perspectives, and refreshed our strategies. The sound of the ocean replaced the hum of fluorescent lights and beeping cars, and the salty breeze seemed to carry with it a sense of limitless possibility.

Source: Coffee Communications

Beyond the allure of innovation, our stay in Zanzibar was also a testament to the power of unity. Within the confines of an office, interactions can sometimes be transactional, limited to work-related conversations, scheduled meetings, and emails. Zanzibar dismantled these barriers, encouraging us to explore together, laugh together, and learn about one another, beyond our professional titles and small talk. It's within the bonds of shared experiences that a true collaboration thrives, and I witnessed these bonds strengthening with every sunset we admired on the beach, or every local market we navigated as a team, as friends on a trip.

But it wasn't all about work. Entrepreneurship is a demanding journey, and burnout is a real concern. In Zanzibar, we discovered the art of balancing work with leisure and productivity with relaxation. We delved into the island's offerings– its cultural richness, historical depth, and stunning landscapes. By giving ourselves permission to unwind, we inadvertently enhanced our ability to excel when we were back home at our Coffee Communications desks.

Related: Unpacking The Dreamhouse: Where Barbie's World Meets Entrepreneurial Gold

Just like team building is important after the festive holidays, it is important to understand the mindset we get into during the summer season in Dubai. While we can barely step outside, we are left glued to our laptops and phones, scrolling through apps where we see people we know and beyond, travelling home, or to a tropical island, or even a party destination. A two-week getaway before the busy season was perfect! It is also during the summer that we start planning for creative activations and campaigns- and how can you get those brain synapses to fire? By travelling. Thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, we've all seemed to ace the skill of remote working- which made my decision a no-brainer!

Professor and author Adam Galinsky says that "foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms." This essentially means that new sounds, sights, and smells all spark the creativity synapses in the brain. Many creatives, like writers Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain, used their international travelling experiences to sculpt their work. Hemingway's novels are heavily inspired by his time spent in France and Spain, and Twain's sail through the Mediterranean is documented in his travelogue, Innocents Abroad. Their exposure to new and different cultures enabled them to write some of their best work.

In Zanzibar, we also promoted a healthy lifestyle from a personal trainer at 7:30 AM, to a private chef around the clock making fresh juices, smoothies, and healthy meals. Helpers were available around the clock, because, well, we are still kids of Dubai. This gave the team the opportunity to bond, get creative, and experience a whole new lifestyle.

Source: Coffee Communications

As we returned to Dubai, the echoes of Zanzibar remained. The lessons learned, the memories created, and the newfound perspectives were not left behind on the island; they became an integral part of our professional DNA. Zanzibar's spirit of exploration and resilience is now interwoven into our approach to projects, our interactions with clients, and our internal dynamics.

In a world where innovation is often spoken of in abstraction, this Zanzibar expedition became a tangible testament to its power. It showcased that innovation isn't limited to software or gadgets; it's about fostering an environment that encourages bold thinking, cultural exchange, and the courage to redefine the way we work.

As I reflect on our journey, I'm reminded that entrepreneurship isn't solely about revenue and growth; it's about the journey itself. It's about the stories we gather, the connections we forge, and the growth we undergo along the way. The decision to take my team to Zanzibar wasn't just a change of location; it was a change of mindset- a reminder that as entrepreneurs, we have the power to create our own narrative, one that's bold, inspiring, and eternally curious.

Related: Collaboration: The Fuel Driving The UAE's Diverse, Sustainable, Ever-Ambitious Future

Natasha Al Fadhli

Founder and CEO, Coffee Communications

Natasha Al Fadhli is the founder and CEO of Coffee Communications, a Dubai-based strategic brand consultancy agency. 


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