Dr Naif al Mutawa
I had been granted access to the elite of the elite. I was now sharing their oxygen. Now it was up to me to convince them that I was not just air.
As the recipient of the 2009 Social Entrepreneur of the year award for the Middle East, the hosts of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Schwab Foundation, invited me to attend. This was my chance to network my small ideas with big people. And God knows, I put the “net” in network. Davos Man didn’t stand a chance.
Evolution had primed me for this venue. At five foot seven inches, my eyes are at the level of their name-tags. I don’t need to pretend to recognise anyone.
Natural selection has shaped me to see name tags before the bearer sees me. My mind-eye co-ordination for seeing and assessing name tags is unequalled. My eyes are level with his torso and my body is wide enough to be my roadblock against escape. If a man with an earpiece is following him, he is either important or self-important. Either way, he’s worth my walking by in stealth mode. No need to strain my hamstrings and my barely visible neck to read his tags. I was made for this.
My unsuspecting prey doesn’t stand a chance, bodyguard or not. I am the fastest business card in the East. The sight of colourful comic superheroes on my business card stops unsuspecting prey in their tracks. This is, after all, Davos, not Comicon. Puzzled, the prey looks down and our eyes meet. I then unleash my powerful hook, a comic book placed right in his hands, and I introduce myself as the Kuwaiti social entrepreneur who is trying to make a difference to the children of the world with old messages of peace and social justice packaged in the New Media understood by them.
Once cornered, the artist in me uses images and the psychologist in me uses guilt to wrestle Davos Man to my ideas. In one round of three minutes or less, I explain my idea and thank them explaining that their entry fees to the forum indirectly paid for my presence. I am grateful to the Schwabs for having me here. And I am grateful to the man in front of me.
I am here for him. I am here with him. I am here because of him. I am here because I have a new solution to an old problem. He may be Davos Man. But I am Davos Boy. And one day I hope to grow up to be Davos Man. But today he must listen. Being a short-wide social entrepreneur with colourful comic companions gets me the access I need.
When it is time to eat, I retreat to my corner and go through my treasures. I pull out my new stack of cards and check their biogs in the media guide.
While others eat, I assess. What satiates me is not on the tables; it’s in people’s pockets. I am a cardivore.
I introduce myself to unsuspecting Princes, Crown Princes, Former Crown Princes, and artists formerly known as Prince.
I may have yet to figure out how to play Pokémon or Bakugan, but I have become a master at the ultimate trading card game.
At night, the rules change. I note their names and send them an e-mail. We met. Thanks for your words. We should talk. I’m a social entrepreneur. I’m trying to fix the world. They get their buzz from their beverages and their buzzwords from me.
The intoxicating mix of endless possibilities of how business can change the world and the world can change business …
And that’s how Davos Boy met Davos man.
Dr Naif al Mutawa is a recipient of the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Award for his creation of THE 99, the first group of superheroes born of Islamic archetypes