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How I got my job as… founder of a Dubai-based longevity wellness studio

This week, Emirates Man speaks to Hamdan Al-Khafaji, Founder of Contrast, a wellness studio with Ice Plunges and Saunas which is located in both City Walk and Palm Jumeirah.

Welcome to the Emirates Man weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businessmen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.

Founded on the principle that wellness comes from within, Contrast was born to take time to switch off from today’s hectic world.

The philosophy fuses transformative ancient healing practices into the modern world, combining hot and cold therapy for moments of mindfulness and relaxation.

To delve into his journey, Al-Khafaji shared how it all began as an entrepreneur.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Statistics. I’ve always been analytical and enjoy organizing data to make informed decisions. Although I often take risks in business, they are always calculated to reduce the chance of failure rather than to increase the likelihood of success, because that’s when my effort comes into play.

What was your first job?

I was selected for the paid management program at the Ritz Carlton while studying hotel management.

What inspired you to launch Contrast?

I have personally benefited from saunas and ice baths and have been using them since I was 10 with my parents. I’ve experienced their healing powers on every level, and they will always be essential tools in my wellness routine. From a young age, wellness has always spoken to me, and I have always wanted to enter the space. Dubai was not ready for the idea I had at the time, so I waited for the perfect moment.


What are the key elements of your role?

To be a successful business owner, you have to stay focused on the big things and assign the smaller tasks to each team member. Even though sales and operations fall under me, I care most about growth, which means the brand, its positioning, and its marketing. I spend most of my time studying and searching for the best collaborations, the best locations, and the best people while making sure the business is turning a profit.

Talk us through your daily routine.

Every morning, I prioritise my health by waking up an hour earlier than everyone else at home. I dedicate this time to myself to focus on my mind, body, and soul. I kick off by having my special coffee and start by praying, then I exercise, practice deep breathing, and spend some time outdoors in the fresh air and sunlight. After that, I then enjoy playing with my son when he wakes up, which always brings me joy and fills my heart. You have to have a purpose.

What are some of the services at Contrast?

Our core business includes the sauna (infrared and traditional Finnish) and cold plunges. We’ve enhanced the experience by including TVs so you can watch your favorite shows on Netflix or put on a meditation or breathwork exercise to follow while you sweat. We also have red light panels in the infrared saunas, which have been proven to naturally reduce pain and inflammation, regenerate skin cells, improve testosterone levels for men, and be beneficial for depression. We have magnesium baths that improve energy levels, calm nerves and anxiety, and set you up for a better night’s sleep, as well as reducing inflammation, aiding muscle recovery, and reducing soreness. By demand, we also offer IV vitamin therapy and normatec compression boots, and restorative massages are coming soon. We’re basically a one-stop shop for wellness.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?

Find a low-cost and low-maintenance business and then scale it.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

You have all the answers; spend the time to pay yourself a visit and look within.

And what is the worst?

Work hard, play hard.

Contrast wellness

What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

Doing too many things at once, balancing being an entrepreneur, a father, a husband, a son, a brother, and a friend.

What lies ahead for the brand?

Different integrations of the concept, both larger formats and more compact ones, as well as more technology and diagnostics, but always keeping the business model simple without complicating it.

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Images: Supplied 

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