By Tawfik Lamari
• Interview with Turkish ambassador to Qatar Dr M Mustafa Göksu
Diplomat, scholar, philanthropist, entrepreneur, sport enthusiast, avid runner, and committed family man. Dr M Mustafa Göksu, Turkish ambassador to Qatar, is a multi-faceted and talented personality who leaves an enduring impression wherever he goes. His honesty, integrity and sheer enthusiasm has further strengthened the Turkey-Qatar partnership in the interest of the sisterly nations.
The following Gulf Times interview with Dr Göksu takes the reader through his lifetime experiences, challenges and achievements. Sitting around an afternoon Turkish tea with Turkish delights, the envoy shared a candid conversation reminiscing about his journey and revealing his exceptional achievements. We started from his early teens, to his travel and education abroad, and then discussed how he overcame several challenges, that shaped him into what he is today. Essentially, three important lessons are noticeable; first, his spiritual quest, second his practical knowledge and third the faith and knowledge that makes him an exceptional, charismatic individual.
For a start, Dr Göksu has a great passion for learning. He loves to read and in testament to that, among his first and most humbling achievements is when he memorised the Holy Qur’an. That, too, at a young age. “My request to God was simple,” he said. “When I came to Istanbul from my birth town of Ad?yaman, which is 1,200km away from Istanbul, my single aspiration was to memorise the Qur’an. Many ridiculed me and often people would question my father: ‘why are you sending Mustafa to memorise the Qur’an, he can be a doctor or an engineer, he is a very successful student.’ But my father understood what they did not. He wanted me to have a practical and spiritual education, and benefit from both.”
Not only his hard-working mother and father, but also his older brother Mahmut were a major influence on him. It was his older brother who encouraged Dr Göksu to memorise the Qur’an when he was 11 years old. This was his greatest accomplishment. Then, lovingly, he spoke of how his older brother put him on the right track of learning. “He was the one who washed my clothes, and provided me with whatever I needed – he is in the position of my father and more,” Dr Göksu said: “All that I have attained, and achieved, was thanks to my mother, father, but especially my older brother’s guidance.” Now, his older brother is a retired parliamentarian and chairs an endowment that supports the education of over 1,500 students.
Dr Göksu recalled he learned the importance of setting attainable goals and working diligently towards them. He acquired a sense of achievement that made him feel he could attain any goal he put his mind to. That feeling of empowerment, at a young age, catapulted his confidence. “I graduated from elementary school within a year. Then, I graduated from middle school with distinction, and went on to graduate from the Islamic University in Madinah. It gave me courage to take chances and excel.”
Dr Göksu described the period of his studies in Madinah as the best days of his life. “I studied five years in Madinah, and after that I established a hotel management company and I was working between Makkah, Madinah and Jeddah. I felt blessed.”
Soon afterwards, Dr Göksu joined the Faculty of Economics in Turkey, and quickly became popular on campus. The professors admired his dedication and commitment. He focused on his studies, but also had a close-knit circle of like-minded companions. What was even more impressive was that he started his own small business. “I love to multi-task and keep myself busy. I believe theoretical knowledge and practical experience are a powerful combination to follow.’
Then, to further his quest for knowledge, he travelled to the US and Canada and got an MBA in Foreign Trade. Ten years later, he returned to his beloved home, Turkey. At that point, he decided to resume his studies and obtained a doctorate in theology. He was guided by his love of learning and seeking knowledge. He said: “After all the books I’ve read, in Turkish, English and Arabic, and after all the teachers that I’ve had, one of the most powerful learning experiences I had was when I was travelling in a taxi. The driver, who had little formal schooling, talked with me so sincerely, and passionately, about the importance of asking God for forgiveness”. “Can you imagine that,” said Dr Göksu, “I learned the importance of asking forgiveness from God from a taxi driver on the way from Taif to Makkah.” It changed him forever and taught him the importance of humility.
Subsequently, Dr Göksu made a transition to entrepreneurship. There was a buzz in Ankara about him, especially his fluency in languages, mastering both the Western and Eastern philosophies, and his business acumen. Due to that, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, noticed him. Consequently, he was appointed the Representative of the Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He held that position for nine years. During that time, he learned about business culture in the Mena region, especially in the Gulf. Adding to that, he said: “The people in the Gulf are very smart. They import almost everything from abroad, and this has taught them outstanding trade skills more than others.”
Then, all of a sudden, a global catastrophe arose and he had to leave Saudi Arabia. He pointed out that “due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I returned to Istanbul and Covid-19 has upended life like never before in human history,” Dr Göksu reflected. “Covid-19 has had both positive and negative impacts,” he said. “The advantages are that it has given me the opportunity to go back to the books that I neglected for a long time. Therefore, I slept a little, and read a lot, and I revised my memorisation of the Qur’an. Hence, the Covid-19 pandemic taught me to do the righteous deeds, one day, neither your money nor your position will benefit you, everything is in the hands of God Almighty. There are many colleagues who did not have any health issues and they left this world.”
Then, one day, while quietly reading, his phone rang. It was the office of the President. “A meeting was arranged and His Excellency President Erdogan formally appointed me ambassador to Qatar.” He was at a loss of words. This was an opportunity of a lifetime, to serve his country. Moreover, he felt honoured and humbled to be representing his beloved country in the sisterly Qatar. When he arrived in Doha, he immediately felt at home. He would not let the people of both countries down.
For that reason, he immediately began to work. Given the importance of the bilateral ties, he said “I want to give an added value to the already excellent and exceptional relations between Qatar and Turkey. Therefore, I immediately began thinking of new and innovative ways to further develop this bond. For instance, we agreed on 40 scholarships for Turkish students, 30 from Qatar University and 10 from Lusail University, and thus successful students will benefit from them annually.” He knows the importance of knowledge and wishes to support others in their life-long learning quest.
Now, he says he feels so proud to be in Qatar. It has begun to be his home away from home. Recently, his family have also arrived and they feel the same way. In fact, they have all adapted to the country very quickly. With a broad smile, Dr Göksu mentioned the importance of his wife to him. “We have been married for 20 years, and we have four lovely and studious children. Honestly, if I succeeded in my life, it is thanks to my wife. I trust her opinion. She worked with her father, who is a prominent businessman with 3,000 workers. She benefited from this environment and has helped me immeasurably. In all the success that I achieved in my life, she has a great role.”
In conclusion, ambassador Dr Göksu shared a memorable incident that happened to him recently. On his first flight to Qatar, on the occasion of the visit of President Erdogan to Qatar on July 2 last year, he was still learning about the protocol procedures. “I did not know anything about protocol, and this was my first trip with the President Erdogan, so I was a little nervous.” Suddenly, one member of staff came to me and said: “Mustafa Abi (older brother), you sent me to South Africa to study English. Now I work with His Excellency President Erdogan as one of his speech writers. Thank you.” Glory be to God. This bright young student, whose name is Ali Osman, became the person who trained me in protocol procedures.” He said: “I believe that if God wants something for you, he prepares its conditions.” This mindset has never left him. He reminds us that these lessons are important for the next generation. He is of the view that “if young people want to succeed in their lives, they must set a goal, and commit themselves to it, never give up, and seek God’s guidance and support. Then they will certainly succeed.” Powerful words indeed.
Dr Göksu (right) with a fellow student in Madinah.
Dr Göksu introduces former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan in a meeting.
Last updated: June 12 2021 01:07 AM
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