He failed in 13 subjects … now leads a UN center

Hatem bin Musa Al-Balawi
Hatem bin Musa Al-Balawi

Hatem bin Musa Al-Balawi


Hatem bin Musa Al-Balawi’s success story provides the perfect example of determination and perseverance, and is one that can instill hope and motivation in youths who are demotivated by obstacles, and lack confidence in themselves.

Al-Balawi’s perseverance allowed him to transform from a student, who failed in 13 subjects during his first year of high school, and a young man who was only able to find a job as a security guard, to the director of public relations and executive secretary of UNESCO Regional Center for Quality and Excellence in Education.

In his hometown of Al-Qareet, Al-Balawi’s father found him a job as a security guard at Al-Qareet General Hospital after he failed his classes, earning salary of SR915. He worked during the day, but continued studying during the evening until he earned his high-school degree, and then went on to enroll in a computer course for six months.

“It was a difficult time for me and my father, who exerted a lot of effort on me. I didn’t drive, so he would take me to work and wait for me until I finished,” says Al-Balawi.

He then went on to work in customs for a salary of SR1,300, and then at a hotel in a customer data entry position for SR1,500. His next job was handing out Qur’ans to pilgrims for a salary of SR1,700. Eventually, Al-Balawi married and became a guard with the Al-Aysawiya Border Guard, earning a salary of SR7,500.

“My aspirations didn’t stop there, but rather I continued to develop my skills until I obtained a Canadian visa to complete my bachelor’s degree in business administration there,” he says. “This decision was a surprise to my family, especially as I was married and had children, but I took the risk and sold my possessions to cover the costs.”

“Everyone stood against me but my wife, who knew how determined and motivated I was.”

“My father’s parting words were a huge motivation about my responsibilities,” says Al-Balawi, noting that when he left with his wife and children, he had only $473. After spending on necessary items, he was left with nothing but $60 in his pocket by the second day.

Al-Balawi joined the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Scholarship Program, learned English, and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree within three years. He also earned a diploma in business administration from Dorset College.

Both Al-Balawi and his wife received scholarship students arriving in Canada, and committed themselves to helping them. He participated in a number of volunteer programs and conferences as a representative of his country.


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