When football is more than just a game

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Karim Mousa’s entrepreneurial spirit has led to a diverse career

From building eSport companies to spotting opportunities for change at Siemens, Karim proves the power of strong ideas

From Abu Dhabi to Liverpool Football Club

Karim Mousa grew up in Abu Dhabi. Despite the distance, he supported – and continues to support – the UK-based football club, Liverpool FC. “I originally supported Bayern Munich growing up as a kid, and at that time there was a player called Dietmar Hamann, who moved from Bayern Munich to Liverpool in 1999,” he says. “He helped Liverpool win a cup treble around that time, so Liverpool became a natural interest and I followed them ever since.”

As he reached his late teens, he was faced with the significant decision of where to go to university. He had an ingenious idea. Having never visited the UK and yet to see his team play on home turf, he applied for a mechanical engineering degree at Liverpool University with a couple of equally football-mad friends. “We thought, ‘You know, why not give it a try?’” 

Karim, along with both of his friends, was accepted. “Our parents weren’t too happy that we were going there for a football club, but I do recall looking at The Times Good University Guide and saw the University of Liverpool was ranked fourth in the UK for mechanical engineering,” he says. “So it was pretty good – everyone was pretty happy.”

Building Abu Dhabi’s first eSports company

After Liverpool, Karim returned home to Abu Dhabi. With his passion for football and sports, and after noticing and assessing a gap in the region for Electronic Sports, he was inspired to create an eSports company that would make online gaming more accessible to players in the Middle East.

An avid gamer himself, he set up eSports company Cyber Sports League (CSL). “I think when I came back from Liverpool it was clear there was a gap in the market,” he says. “There were so many gamers. We had all the big brands looking for sponsorship opportunities. It was the perfect region to start developing an eSports ecosystem from the ground up.” 

With no real eSports company previously established in the Middle East, Karim knew he was on to something. “I made the idea a little more concrete in my mind and slept on it for a little while,” he says. “But then, I started chatting with one of my friends who was a gamer. I told him about the idea, and hey, we decided, ‘Let’s do it!’”

The risk paid off. They managed to secure several well-known sponsors within the first year, and the company has grown since its launch three years ago. Karim works on every aspect of the business from graphic design to business development to server configuration. He continues to work on CSL part-time, during weekends and evenings.

I have a lot of room and flexibility for creative thinking, which I’m bringing forward in some of my own project ideas
Karim Mousa

The power of ideas

Karim’s entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t stop with CSL. It also shines through in his role as Regional Business Development Manager at Siemens Energy. Using his engineering background, he spotted an opportunity for Siemens to alter a technique to improve the efficiency of producing electricity and heat. “I have a lot of room and flexibility for creative thinking, which I’m bringing forward in some of my own project ideas,” he says. “I’m a little surprised at the flexibility I have in that regard.”

Next, he needed to persuade fellow Siemens colleagues to accept the concept – a skill he’s strengthened by selling ideas and competing with other companies as part of his eSports business. He says, “We had to do a lot of convincing internally and thankfully this idea received a lot of management attention so they said, ‘Yeah, go out and push to market.’” Support was not short-lived, and alongside his “usual” work responsibilities, Karim has spent the past year progressing the project, which involves meeting new customers and presenting the idea at exhibitions and events. “I think it’s quite refreshing to be able to drive your own thing and work on it with your colleagues. It’s always nice starting something from the ground up,” he says. 

Karim proves what can be achieved when you combine drive and determination with a good idea. He looks for opportunities, then acts. His enterprising, go-getting spirit has not only sparked change within the energy sector, but it’s also opened up the world of online gaming to thousands of people in the Middle East. He is just one person, but he’s already helping to shape the future on so many levels.

Karim’s tips for success...

“Work hard. Work smart. Take every opportunity seriously and prepare for it like it’s going to be your only opportunity. And I guess, work on your human side as well; respect people and don’t take people for granted, learn to work with – and appreciate – people. I think if you combine these two things, then the only obstacles would be natural obstacles you could do nothing about.”

Karim Mousa is a Regional Business Development Manager at Siemens Energy. He’s worked with Siemens for five years, and is based between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.