Asma Al Farwi & Satellite Advertising and Production L.L.C
Breaking Walls

Breaking Walls

Married at 18, right after graduating high school, taking with me my sweet moments of teenage madness, innocent childhood, & a family of wealth & renowned reputation all across my city in Northern Syria. Leaving behind my lavishing childhood years & the years of love & affection that my parents showered me with. Leaving behind me my days of rebel; my rebel against culture & small society. A conservative small society that mostly stands out with its frequent use of the word “shameful”. Shameful that I chose to draw, play an instrument & play basketball, furthermore to be on the city’s basketball team that requires traveling to neighboring cities to compete.
Soon all this wonder-life even be crowned with a marriage to a businessman that completed my fantasy of the Europe vacations & generous gifts. More to this marriage was there, a life in the United Arab Emirates & a promise that I made to my family; getting my bachelors degree. Little did I know about the cycle of life & what goes up must come down. Little did I know that this marriage was the crossroads of my life.

Years of love pass by, my baby girl is born, then a couple of years afterwards my baby boy joins this world. “Good times fly-by”, & the successful business that my husband was running was starting to collapse & in 1988 it did. His countless & various attempts to save his business & escape bankruptcy have all failed, thus causing him a trauma that sent him on an endless journey of instability. Changing careers & working on commission in real estate did not manage to provide the income that we have been used to & cover our expenses. His “one-hit-wonder” in a petrol deal also did not succeed in bringing him back into the business world.
My husband’s failure ignited the feminine will in a woman that wanted, no needed, needed to build a different future for her children. A future away from the fear of the unknown & a little closer to the life style that is more suitable for them. Dreams, dreams of a better tomorrow that encountered so many obstacles & walls. In the end, it is our choice to cry by the walls, jump over the walls, or break those walls. I chose to break those walls.

Had no degree & no experience, but I knew that the doors of education are always open. It then sparked in my head, the promise I made to my parents prior to my marriage, getting a bachelors degree.
Limited were the options back in those days. In 1990, I joined the only private university in the UAE, Skyline College to again be seated in a class & carrying school books with me, majoring in Hotel Management & Tourism. Not to neglect my role as a mother in nurturing & spending time with my children, studying would have to wait until the night when the children are already asleep. My sleep can wait. All that was not worrying for me compared to my sleepless nights thinking of where I can get my tuition fees from. Being a believer, I always believed that God puts people along your path to support & help you along the journey. And that was exactly what I had, a friend that always reached out for me & lend me the money when the fees were due. My will & desire to graduate never stopped, & wanting to have work experience pushed me to taking an unpaid internship in a travel & tours center. 

During my summer vacation in Syria with my family, I was searching for a job to earn myself some money in order to survive. This time my brothers intervened & all I could here is “shameful”, shameful that I am looking for a job when I come from a wealthy family & living a wealthy life. My family in Syria never knew the magnitude of my problems in the UAE. To keep my husband's pride I kept them living the illusion that our financial situation is still sky high & life was as good as it gets. Fingers were pointed & words were said, everyone accusing me of being rebellious & disgracing our family name.  "Don’t feed me a fish, teach me how to fish", help was what I didn’t want, it is my life & I needed to take control of it.
The need to find a job was my only obsession at that time. My search ended in 1993 when I landed a role in marketing in Syrian Air, based in the UAE. What was an acceptable salary if it wasn't for the heavy family commitments that I had on my shoulder was barely enough to fulfill our main needs. Though it was time to pay back my friend the money I owed. In 1994, it was the fulfillment of my promise; I wore the gown & walked.
It could be an addiction, but once you start breaking walls, you simply can't stop. Wanting more for my kids, I strived harder & obtained more certificates to help me grow.
Stress & anxiety were what shaped me during most of my life. Being the sole benefactor of 2 children, being the mother & the father at the same time, I spent most of my time thinking of having my own business, but the question was always "how". The thought of owning my own business became a dream, & this dream became an obsession, an obsession to make a better life for my children & for myself.

            1998 had its own agenda, kept its surprises hidden & was the start of a new era for me. In that year The Syrian Tourism Board & Syrian Air were participating in The Arabian Travel Market exhibition. I got involved & proved that I am capable of very hard & creative work. Seniors from our stand noticed my capabilities, especially in the marketing field. An officer from The Syrian Ministry of Tourism approached me to become the exclusive agent to a tourism magazine in the UAE. The idea sounded pleasant, & a real test of my capabilities in a dynamic economy & a country that was evolving rapidly. It was then that my 5 years contract with Syrian Air was close to expiring, which meant that I had to make a move real soon. There has to be a major decision that I will make now.
In a matter of days I was carrying the contract of exclusivity in the UAE to a tourism magazine. The test is on; I have to market & sell ads in this magazine to a market full of action & excitement. With only the money from my end of service, my resources were limited, but so was my life lately, that will not stop me. Searching the local classifieds for an advertisement company license to buy, I finally found one. My excitement & eagerness to start working didn't allow me time to change the existing name “Satellite Advertising”. With a product to sell & a license in hand, I rented a small office.

In the midst of my struggle to get my firm running, my reinstatement letter back to Syrian Air was issued. I prayed & asked God for the strength to keep me going & the ability to succeed. The sparkle of joy that I saw in my children’s' eyes & the thought of a better future for them was always my catalyst to my will & strength. More walls had to be broken.
A successful businesswoman had to organize her time efficiently, every second must be invested to make both jobs successful & to fulfill my family needs. Juggling between two jobs daily from 8am up until 9 or even 10pm. 2 years passed & my contract with Syrian Air was reaching its end & I had to take the decision of committing solely to my firm.
Staying updated in the business world especially in a country that was on the fast-track of growing, I had to reinvest in my firm. Borrowing $20,000 from one of my relatives to develop & maintain my business.
Avoiding fraud was a task by itself, being inexperienced in this field & in management made me an easy target. Soon the money I borrowed was gone, I was at rock bottom & the world turned black. Crying won’t help, though I cried long & hysterically. Closing down my company meant the end of my dream, the end of my children’s' future & the end of breaking walls. I had to move & I had to move fast, put everything behind me & I moved on. "A calm sea doesn’t make a skilled sailor", I had this proverb on my desk all the time, it inspired & moved me. I contracted with a media production company to become the executors of the projects that my firm gets. It was not long before the owner of this company offered me being a partner in that company, now that his other partner has chosen to split. The offer was hard to turn-down, the company is well reputed in the market & they were experienced in the field of media production. No money, but the idea sparkled & I wanted to invest in that company, this time I had to get a bank loan. Another helping hand shows up, a colleague from Syrian Air sponsors me in the bank & signs off the sponsorship letter.

Day after day I became more experienced & knowledgeable in the advertising industry. I learned about all the aspects in the industry & slowly our name became known in the market & we were able to compete with the multi-national companies & sign big deals.
It was then that my daughter who is also my best friend was entering university. She as all girls her age wanted the best university but she chose a more feasible one to lessen the pressure off my shoulders. Then it was that my debts were all cleared & the pressure started to lessen. Business flourished & my work diversified along with my investments. The UAE economy was at its peak & I invested some money in a small real estate firm that soon also flourished. I invested more in the real estate market & learned about the stock market to soon start investing there.

The global recession has hit, & it was the time for the big test, will my business survive? Corporates reduced their marketing budgets, the property market collapsed, stock markets showed only red signs. Two years after the recession started, my company has managed to maintain its position & its clientele list. My dream lives on.

My daughter is married & works with me as a Marketing Manager, my son graduated from the American University of Dubai & is on his own path of building his own career. Satellite Advertising is now celebrating 13 years & my passion towards it only increases with time. After obtaining my Masters in Marketing I am looking forward to starting my PHD studies. My father has distributed his fortune on all of his children & now I am on very solid grounds.
I have achieved my dream, but dreams evolve just like we do. Now there are new walls to break, but this time, with no stress, just the desire to achieve.