Abdullah Al Qassab is an Emirati engineer, stand up comedian, a motivational speaker and a father of five. He has a passion for people, for development and for his country. We came across his work when we saw a touching post on instagram about his experience as an involved parent, dealing with late nights and grieving the loss of a father he doesn’t remember. In his post entitled “a fatherless father” he wrote “growing up without one, keeps me up at night. This night is one of them. I wish I (could) hear more from others who share this path.” This is the subtext of a video where he is reading to his children in bed. He goes on to say “I am 36 years old; when would this feeling of missing him end. I never actually met him. I was 2 years old, and he passed away. I have no memory of him. Missing what you never experienced! What do you call this?!”
We spoke to Abdullah about fatherhood and how growing up without a father has impacted his journey as a father.
Q: How do you cope with the demands of everyday life?
A: I breathe. I breathe a lot because otherwise I will get anxiety. I put off some tasks if they can be put off and sometimes, I put off a lot because I am mentally tired. I want to avoid being burned out. I have kids so I can’t afford being burned out. My remedy is having alone time with my wife and hugging my kids. My kids love playing more than hugging, which is hard, so I am back to working out. Being physically fit will help in being able to play and not be tired. Playing with my kids is actually a good warm up to working out as long as it is not more than 15 minutes!
I also make sure I have productive time, creative time or my NOTHING time and not feel guilty about it. I love doing that.
Q: You have a lot of people depending on you, how do you find the time to look after yourself? What do you do to look after yourself?
A: Reading that I have a lot of people depending on me almost made my heart skip a beat! I love my people, so I hug them. It really helps and it also helps on a different dimension. By befriending the anxious part in me. What makes me anxious can also help me. Accepting that it is part of me, it to longer stresses me. I make sure both my conscious and unconscious mind are in the loop when I connect with the people I love. They are not a car that needs its paper renewed. I hug and feel the love and that keeps them from being a source of stress for me.
Q: What brings you joy in fatherhood?
A: Oh… their drawings! I store them all. ALL. The talks, the hugs, the stories, the diapers, the late-night milk feeding bings we joy. As I reflect on this question, I feel happy by just remembering the faces and voices of my children.
Q: What have been your personal struggles in being a father?
A: I was a fatherless child. I don’t know if I am being the father I wanted my father to be. I don’t know if I am a father like my dad was. I don’t have a benchmark! There have been times when I have felt the pain and hurt of not having a father, especially when I had my third child who is also my first daughter. I was mourning my father a lot. I saw my sisters grow up without a father and it surely had an effect on them. One time my son was in the pool and he started tearing up out of the blue! He was thinking about his grandad. He never met him and I never met my father, either. I have adult ADHD so in the middle of all this, I was wondering why he didn’t miss his grandad from his mother’s side. His grandad from his mother’s side had also passed away when my wife was young! I was left to wonder if I had triggered that sorrow in him subliminally, or was I so clearly showing how I miss my father. It surely made me space out a lot during for a few subsequent days.
Q: What advice would you give a man in the UAE who is about to become a father?
A: I have no advice. I have a request. See a psychologist to know yourself more. Also, read about children’s psychological development. These may help as we have never been fathers before and need some guidance.
Q: What support do men need from their wives when the first baby is born?
A: Plan the sleeping and work schedule together to prevent either one of you from being sleep deprived.
If you would like to learn from and check out more of Abdullah’s work, check out his instagram @theqassab! He is a soulful artist and mental health advocate with a lot of creativity, love and wisdom to share with this world.
Abdullah Al Qassab
Abdullah Al Qassab is an Emirati engineer and public figure with a passion for people, for development and for his country.
Abdullah completed his Bachelor in Electric Engineering and Robotics at Khalifa University for Science, Technology and Research. He currently works for ADNOC as Research Development Engineer.
From an early age Abdullah was very interested in psychology and the general structures of society and the people around him, Abdullah initially became involved in smaller charitable projects which then grew with his own development. Now he is doing his Second Bachelors in Educational Psychology and Counselling.
Abdullah uses his talent and passion for words to inspire others and to make a change. He describes his fellow Emirati youth as “in large parts seeking identity” due to the lack of guidance and role models. In his public talks Abdullah aims to enlightens the Emirati youth by creating links between history and modern day life, by making connections between their aspirations and their achievements, as well as by teaching them a thing or two about being human.
Abdullah mentors youth, has acted in a film played in Cannes film festival and has performed in Stella Adler acting academy in Hollywood under the Short+Sweet international theatre festival. With his stand-up comedy gigs Abdullah creates impact beyond the laughs – by donating all proceeds to charitable causes.