Cisco’s Rabih Dabboussi on the perks of cycling in Dubai

Rabih Dabboussi is the general manager of Cisco UAE, an American computer networking company. The Lebanese-American, 44, joined the company in the US in 1996 as an engineer before moving to the UAE in 2008 to lead the engineering division for Cisco’s emerging markets and later assuming his current role. Out of hours, Mr Dabboussi, who lives in Dubai, is an avid cyclist – a hobby he often engages in for his morning commute to work – even during the summer months.

How often do you go cycling and where?

I go cycling two to three times per week, especially in the Jumeirah Islands neighbourhood where I live, which has a track of about 7 kilometres, and at the Al Qudra Cycle Path.

Do you usually cycle to work? What is your route and how long does it take?

Yes, I cycle to work all year round, even in the summer. It of course depends on the level of heat and humidity. So if the weather is too oppressive, say 53 degrees and high humidity, then I may not cycle; I’ll alternately try to do something active like swimming or running. My commute takes about 25 minutes, beginning at my home in Jumeirah Islands. I’ll then ride through The Springs, take the overpass across Sheikh Zayed Road into Media City, and then park at the Cisco office in Knowledge Village.

What do you think are the benefits of cycling to work?

Cycling provides a wide range of benefits: it helps keep people healthy and relieves stress; it lowers carbon footprint and is a fun way to exercise. In the work environment, with the rapid pace of work and the pressure that employees are under, exercising daily is essential. Employees who exercise and go cycling can feel energised for work in the morning and help take their mind off work in the evening.

How has cycling helped your personal life and career?

Cycling is one form of cross-training exercise that I do, complementing running and swimming. I can go cycling for hours on end in Dubai’s Al Qudra Cycle Path, which provides a safe and scenic environment in the desert natural environment. I’ve met a lot of people while cycling, and cycling has helped to widen my circle of networking relationships. I’ve been cycling with my team since being at Cisco in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, and we have had business discussions over bike rides, especially after work in the evenings.

How has the UAE’s cycling infrastructure improved over the years?

It has improved significantly over the past two to three years, especially in Dubai, thanks to the efforts of the UAE’s visionary leaders to raise awareness about the benefits of cycling, and to create a culture of cycling safety. There are more kilometres of cycling tracks, paths and circuits than ever before. I’m very impressed by the UAE’s cycling infrastructure, and look forward to more advancements in the future. The UAE can definitely become one of the world’s leading cycling countries.

What safety precautions do you take when riding your bike?

Having proper safety gear is the most important precaution cyclists can take – especially wearing a helmet and glasses. Cyclists need to be vigilant when riding in traffic and while riding at night, including checking the front, sides and behind of the bike. Turns and intersections are high risk, when cyclists are riding alongside cars, motorbikes and buses.

How does Cisco support cycling and a healthy lifestyle for its employees?

Cisco’s company culture has a long-standing commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles and exercise, and the company has sponsored cycling events around the world. In the UAE, our offices are fitness-friendly, with showers available for employees who exercise and bike parking for cyclists.

What advice would you give to people just starting to cycle in the UAE?

They should invest in a good bike and proper safety equipment. They should also learn best practices by training with experts, and should start cycling in a group or with partners until they are fully competent.

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