Spring break on college campuses typically means travel with friends or simply trying to catch up on much-needed rest. But for NYU Abu Dhabi sophomore Mohammed Amine Belarbi, spring break 2014 was spent delivering a lecture – to a global online audience.
TEDxMinesNancy, held at the French university École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Nancy, focused on young innovators who have made a difference in society through the use of business initiatives and entrepreneurship skills. Belarbi was invited to speak in front of a 1,500 crowd about his work and the challenges in his life, hoping to inspire and motivate the audience from his experience.
Belarbi launched his first regional non-governmental organization (NGO) at age 18, and it now has six chapters and operates across the Arab world. The NGO focuses on young adults, and works with them to promote their talents "to channel their energy into something more productive,” said Belarbi.
The following year, Belarbi started his foundation in Morocco, assisting young innovators to manage and maintain their websites while teaching them marketing and advertising strategies. His foundation also served as an introductory platform for many young entrepreneurship initiatives and businesses there.
While in Abu Dhabi, Belarbi has launched a marketing and design company, working with many well-known innovators including the economist Manahel Thabet, named one of the top-100 most influential women in the Arab world by CEO Middle East magazine. Belarbi's company is also involved with the World Expo 2020 exhibition that will be held in Dubai.
Belarbi also created the Gulf Elite magazine as a creative way to thank his supporters, publishing stories on successful entrepreneurships, businesses, and lifestyles. With a surprising 20,000 views for a one-time magazine, Belarbi soon shifted Gulf Elite to become a monthly magazine, targeting the Generation Y audience in the Gulf region.
Onto its sixth issue now and attracting around 30,000 readers each month, Belarbi said the success of the magazine is the way it has presented content. "We cater to a market niche of young people interested in informal, witty, and motivational content."
Belarbi credited his work to a life changing moment in his high school at United World College Red Cross Nordic. "It had the same setting as NYUAD; I lived with people from 90 nationalities, and these students were doing all these amazing stuff at a young age," said Belarbi. His teenage peers were entrepreneurs, participating in international conferences and publishing their work, thus inspiring Belarbi to follow suit.
Despite having these impressive projects under his belt, Belarbi still professed to be just "an ordinary Moroccan student."
Belarbi's TEDxMinesNancy talk is available here.