My UAE: Kawthar Bin Sulayem’s good public relations

For Kawthar Bin Sulayem, her journey into the world of public relations, communications and media started with a talking yellow car.

Sometimes, something as simple as a cartoon can change somebody’s ­destiny.

For Kawthar Bin Sulayem, her journey into the world of public relations, communications and media started with a talking yellow car.

“When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with this cartoon on Sharjah TV: Bombo. I loved the fact that simple messages about being helpful and a good person in the community could be conveyed through the character of a cute little yellow car. It made me realise that there are so many different ways to tell stories and convey messages,” says the 29-year-old Emirati, who spent her early childhood in Abu Dhabi and teenage years in Dubai.

As a child, Sulayem would walk around with a tape recorder, interviewing her siblings and recording her own voice. She was later involved with her school’s radio station and had a chance to work with professional TV personalities.

“Channel 33 [now Dubai One] was visiting different schools to find hosts to present English programmes about culture for children,” she recalls. “I learnt so much from my time with Channel 33.”

She studied mass communications at New York University, then worked in different fields, including government, before launching her own PR and media company, KBS Communications, in 2010.

“I realised that there was something very crucial missing in the market – there were no locals within the PR agencies. So I started off with PR consultancy, to test the market.”

Part of the company is the KBS Foundation, which focuses on areas such as empowering women, health, and road safety. She also launched Asraroha, an online magazine aiming to empower women through sport.

“What I love most is that this field is so dynamic,” she says. “One can never stop learning.”

My favourite perfume
Armani Code.

My childhood role model
With no doubts, my grandpa Hamoud. He was not just the most loving and caring person I ever knew, but also the wisest. He taught me so much about life as well as business, and shaped me into the person I am today. The things I’ve learnt from him are things cannot be taught at school, so I am very lucky. 

On the weekends, I used to wake up early in the morning to go with him to the fish market. I used to observe the way he would check the fish and negotiate prices, which taught me early lessons about the importance of quality and money management.

My favourite movie
Midnight in Paris.

My favourite music
My favourite Arabic music includes timeless classics by the singers Abdul Karim Abdul Kader, Rabab and Nawal Al Kuwaitia. When it comes to English-language music, I prefer slow songs – nothing that’s overly crazy and loud. I like listening to Whitney Houston, Beyoncé and Alicia Keys.

My favourite television shows
Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef and Shark Tank.

My favourite actress
Audrey Hepburn.

How would you describe yourself?
I am a strong, ambitious, goal-orientated, independent young woman. I like to achieve things and, at the same time, I enjoy giving back to the community and helping others. I believe that life is too short, so we need to do as much good as we can and touch the lives of others.

My favourite dish
Too many to list. If I have to pick one, it would be grilled seabream.

My favourite car
Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari F40.

My favourite cartoons
I am an old soul – Bombo, Sally and Captain Majid.

Michael Cox