Edwin Duria is the Chairman of the Philippine Business Council Dubai.


PBC Dubai Chairman’s inspiring rags to riches story

“They call me the man with 48 hours a day,” Dubai-based business extraordinaire Edwin Duria says after sauntering into the Expat Media office in Downtown Dubai, the confident smile on his face matching his smart suit with lively orange necktie.

At 4am every day, he is already up. “I start by planning the full day. My brain is more active in the morning,” says Edwin, who is the chairman of the Philippine Business Council in Dubai, and managing director of business consultancy firm, PLAY Middle East. He is also a St. Mary’s Church Dubai lay minister, a business mentor and the director of Business Network International.

He was recently awarded as Director of the Year by Business Network International, a huge recognition in the global business group with more than 300,000 members where he is the only Filipino director outside the Philippines. He is also a business mentor for the Sharjah Women Business Council through Jupiter Business Mentor Program. As chairman of the Philippine Business Council in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, he is the guiding force for nearly 300 Filipino entrepreneurs and decision makers in the UAE.

“I always say the street-smart wins over the smart ones,” Edwin tells Growing up in a low-income family of five siblings in Pasay City in the Philippine capital of Manila gave him the thirst for a better life and inspired him to embrace hard work.

From garbage boy to game changer

“When I was a child, I used to collect garbage from my neighbours and get paid in coins,” Edwin recalls. When he got a little older, he drove a cycle rickshaw as a side hustle. From his humble beginnings, Edwin now drives a sports car, an orange 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray that makes heads turn in Dubai.

Before moving to the UAE over a decade ago, Edwin held a job as an international sales team head for a property developer, enjoying a six-figure monthly income. “I worked for 14 hours a day, 7 days a week and was consistently exceeding sales targets in the millions,” says the workaholic, explaining why he got top executive perks.

His wife, who was pregnant and working in the UAE, then made him the hardest request: Will he give it all up to move to the UAE?

No was never an option, Edwin recalls. “Was it my choice? Yes. Was I scared? Yes,” he admits.

He was quickly able to find work managing the facility management company of a sheikh’s family in Abu Dhabi, before moving to Dubai as business head for a conglomerate. “In my last job in a group of companies, I was promised a partnership role, but after five years of working with them, my boss ran away. I lost my gratuity, salary, commissions, and allowances. I lost almost Dh147,000,” he recalls.

He remembers facing the loss over a cup of coffee with a colleague. “He was talking, but I couldn’t concentrate on his words until he asked me the magic question: ‘Do you want to be an employee or do you want to have your own company?’” he says.

Edwin’s fight or flight kicked in, and the next day he got to work talking to his connections: law firms, public relations officers, typing centres, and business centres that supported his dream to set up his own company. Now, Edwin’s PLAY Middle East Business Consultancy FZE has helped more than 300 entrepreneurs set up their business in the UAE.

It was the support that he received from his business community that inspired Edwin to pay it forward as a mentor to budding entrepreneurs in the UAE and around the world.

“I’m always there to help individuals, business groups and communities. I feel it is my responsibility,” he says.

Top 3 business tips

  • Never stop learning. Learn to earn.
  • Don’t let lack of funds stop you. Be resourceful.
  • Find a community to support you.

This story also appears in the Expat Media Special Edition Magazine

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