Marwan Koukash

Join Sean O’Neill as he meets Marwan Koukash for a journey through the extraordinary life of a man whose experiences span continents, cultures, and challenges that most only read about in history books.

From the heart of Palestine to the bustling streets of London, from the battlefields of the Middle East to the elite circles of British horse racing, Marwan’s story is one of resilience, innovation, and an unyielding spirit to overcome.

Transcript - Sean O'Neill Meets Palestinian Businessman Dr Marwan Koukash

Dr. Marwan Koukash: People have different abuses sometimes and I get it. But he was a **** charming bastard. He accused us of supplying nuclear weapons to Iraq. I got shot in ours. And that moment of knocking at the door to hand my friend’s dead body to his mom. If they suspected that he was spying for somebody to kill you. Back in Palestine.

Sean O’Neill: Back to Palestine?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Yeah, Palestine is where I grew up and I lived in a village not far away from Bethlehem. So, the village was made up of Muslims, Christians and Jewish people and we had brilliant, absolutely brilliant existence together. Life was very simple life, because we didn’t have running water in the houses or electricity and we all at off the land. So, was a beautiful life we had and there was no difference between Christians and Muslims and Jewish. Was great in within our village because all of us lived together and we got to celebrate, for example, the Muslims celebrated in addition to our holy festivals. We also celebrated Christmas Easter and Jewish festivals and it was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Life very simple as well. No cars in the village.

And you walk to school and I used to walk like three miles a day to go to school bare feet and one day in June everything changed and that’s the start of what’s called the 5-day war June 1967. And that’s when we were evicted from our village and I remember the start of that very well. We didn’t have TVs obviously or radios. So, the first time you find out about the war was when you see the action. And when you see plans, fight war planes flying overhead. You **** yourself because **** hell. I mean I’ve never seen a plane in my life before and to see planes flying overhead and bombing the village. Of course, you just, you know something very very scary and we left the village. Well, we were encouraged to leave.

Sean O’Neill: Your parents, siblings.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: My dad was away at the time. Went to Kuwait to try to make it. So, it’s just me, my mom, and 7 of my siblings and we gathered what we could gather in terms of food, bread, and cheese and so on. And we literally walked for 3 miles to get to other side of the river, river of Jordan into Jordan and that’s where he start getting processed as a refugee. And I remember after the 3-day walk, you see horrible things. 

You see dead bodies on the way and so on to get to safety and somebody from the UN Nation, the refugees she was asking me, what do I want? In terms of biscuits or and I said, I want to go to school and I want to try find me a school to go to. And we lived in the refugee camp for about 3 years and at the time he get encouraged to become a member of the PLO, for Palestinian Liberation Organization and he get trained. So, when I was 10 years of age or 9 years of age, I look at my son now he goes to play football, he goes to play rugby. I went to **** left to shoot clashing cove or RBP or hand grenades etcetera.

You become all of a sudden, a boy soldier instead of a footballer or wanted to play a football. Which served its purpose because in 1970 there was a civil war between the Palestinians and the Jordanians. And you need to fight otherwise you get killed otherwise, you need to shoot otherwise you get shot. And I that was a truly horrible experience because is fighting was done door to door, street to street, house to house, and…

Sean O’Neill: Was there any other option for the boys? Was everyone in? All the young.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Most of us were in it, right? The young lads were, we were tasked with certain things, still dangerous, he’s still shooting, he still get shot at. And the most horrific experience I had at the time was I was out with two boys, same age as me and I turn around. One was shot and gone totally killed, died, and the other one is injured and could hardly. And I couldn’t leave my friend who died there, and to have to maneuver in that body is very difficult because it obviously dead. So, and I had to pull him for like 50 to 100 yards to his house, right? And that moment of knocking at the door to hand my friend’s dead body to his mom and dad was an experience that will live with me forever, and…

Sean O’Neill: And was your mom witnessing these events?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: We lived in a refugee camps. So, refugee camps like house, well of course she knew that I was going out when you go out with a gun and having to do it, right? She’s have expected you come back injured and I didn’t go back when they injured. I got shot in the ****. My **** on the back of my leg. But so, it’s expected that you get injured. And but I was one of the lucky ones that I did not die.
Sean O’Neill: So, when you were going through that process, did you ever think there was a way out? Or what that even look like?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: You sucked into it, right? And you could never see an end when you are in the middle of a war, right? You could, there’s no one going to win. It’s not a war that anybody could win and I think what happened is the other side managed to eliminate most of the senior fighters in the refugee camper was then, and became relatively safe. But the young boys including myself, we managed to ambush some of their soldiers and that’s when they started searching for us and that’s when my mom thought right. Enough is enough. We need to walk out of the camp to somewhere and we managed to come out of the camp, go to a city close to Amman, Jordan and that’s when we thought right.

Sean O’Neill: How long of a walk was that? How long did it take you to get there?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Well, it’s not a very long walk but it’s trying to walk avoiding bullets and bombs around you and you see things like that in Gaza now, right? They might ask you to evacuate from one area of Gaza to another. It might only be like one mile, but the one mile is almost like fifty miles because you’re literally navigating a lot of the bomb shelling around you. So, it becomes a much longer walk than what it really is. And eventually we managed to leave Jordan and went to live in Kuwait where my dad was making it at the time. And but the experience of what I witnessed in the Civil War lived with me for a very long time, because all of a sudden you are in Kuwait, you are safe. And it’s beautiful place to be in away from the refugee camp, but I could never sleep at night, although I had in the same room I slept and I had five, 6 of my siblings.
The lights had to stay on all night. I could never sleep in the dark. Because of the horrific things that I’ve witnessed. And the most horrific thing that like I said earlier I’ve done is having to take your friend’s dead body, which was not in a good condition having been shot at to his mom and dad. And that image kept haunting me and that’s why I couldn’t sleep in there.

Sean O’Neill: You are one of the most driven ambitious people that I’ve ever met? Do you think that’s because of what you experienced? 

Dr. Marwan Koukash: What I experienced in black September, right? Which is 19 September 1970. I think in many ways shaped my life. Never to give up, fight for everything that you can have. And whenever I look at why am I successful in this era or that area. And I’m sure we’ll, you’ve heard some of the stories for it’s, for me the word impossible doesn’t exist. Impossible is a definition the weak use it not to do the hard work. And what I’ve come through in 1967 and 1970 is what drives me on.

Sean O’Neill: Somehow you knew intuitively that fighting wasn’t the only answer. You had to educate yourself.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Well, it true. And that’s when I remember when we crossed the river 1967, one of the UN agents asked me what do I want? And I said, I just want to go to school. I want to educate myself. I want to get better and that’s when we went to Kuwait.

Sean O’Neill: Had you got books or anything at that stage or had you, anyone was your mom educating you or how were you getting the education?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: When we got to Kuwait, we went to normal school and I had this, well semi-decent education but I used the war in 1967 as an opportunity to jump 1 year. So, it’s like in line when I was in Palestine in 1967 in June just finished the second year. When I went to a refugee camp in Jordan 3 months later, instead of going to the third year. I went to the fourth year. Because I was clever actually. I was good at school. And so eventually when I went to Kuwait and finished high school, I finished high school like one year younger than most people did. And that’s when I came over to England and I was determined to come and get the best education and I came over to England as, well 16th.

Sean O’Neill: Did you have to be invited to come to England or was it?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Well, do you know what? That’s the other thing I was talking to one of my brothers the other day, like I relied fully on myself writing to colleges from Kuwait writing letters and getting application forms, filling them, sending them back to England and going to the British Embassy trying to get the visa. And I’ve done that all on my own without the help of my father was totally reliant on myself and then I booked a flight in June. When was it? June 76. And I thought right, I’m going to England to study.

Sean O’Neill: How old are you then? 17?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Not 17 yet. I’ve not reached the age of seventeen. Right? So, it’s and I couldn’t speak English. Well hardly any English. And we on the plane from Kuwait, I sat next to this young lad as well who’s coming for also education and he’s never been to England. So, when you land at Heathrow, **** hell I mean in Kuwait, Kuwait airport you’ll be lucky to see three four flights a day. And when you land at Heathrow and you look around the number of planes, you realizing this is different.

Sean O’Neill: Different world.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: This is different world. Okay. So, we get through Heathrow and we get the cab and we go into a hotel supposedly to be a hotel, which was just a bit of breakfast. And we said to the guy, where can we go for a night out, like in a broken English. And he said, go to be Piccadilly Circus. So, thought right can I get dressed here and at that time I don’t know probably of course you want to know. Everybody want to be dressed up like one of the beetles. So, tight pants and flares at the bottom etcetera and multi-colored shirts. Oh, I’m going to circus. Piccadilly Circus. So, get the cap. And I’m thinking we get to Piccadilly Circus. I’m thinking, where the **** animals are. I’m thinking, this is a different circus. Then all of a sudden, you come across half naked women walking the streets. I’ve just **** come from Kuwait where women are covered. I’ve hardly seen, if you got the movies and you’re watching a love scene, you see the actor going to kiss the actress. And they cut the middle in a bit where they’re kissing each other.

So, I’ve never seen and he walking by Soho, stripped tees etcetera and I’m thinking and all of a sudden, my pants started getting tighter and I’m walking around **** hell. Go down you pretty bastard. And I thought, I’d have to do something here, right? **** God because I can’t come with a hard on like that. So, I thought, **** go to the toilet. Really? Do something here. I can’t. And the toilet was **** full of people. And sort out right. Just walking out genuinely walking around with the bastard go down, go down.

Sean O’Neill: And no money in your pocket?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: So, we got to a night club and this girl said, you know let’s start dancing with this girl and she must like what she felt with us, right? So, right she wanted to be my girlfriend right, then I looked at my friend he had a girl as well. So, I thought right, we’ll go to the, I’m **** virgin still have not had it, right? So, that’s going to be mine. And we stopped the cab, and my friend, I said to my friend where’s the hotel? Have you got the address? He said, no, you have the address. We **** are lost here. Yeah. And I thought.

Sean O’Neill: So, the four of you in a taxi?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: The four of us taxi. Right? I still got a hard on. But I thought that we don’t know where we are. My passport and all money, our money in a hotel somewhere in London. I think it was a shock to the system and that’s when started calming down. So that are the girls who must have lost interest in us and left us. So, in the middle of Soho now don’t know where we are, can’t speak the language, and I think between both of us, we only had like four, five pounds. And we saw a hotel, the word hotel, right? We go in, said, we need room and I think we bed two bands 50, right? Stayed the night. The following morning, we went to the Kuwaiti Embassy and we told them what happened and…

Sean O’Neill: No, everything. You told them part of this.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: No, no, no, no, no, no, what? No, no, what happened? We arrived in in this hotel, left our luggage, told him we want to go to Piccadilly Circus, bed 12 bands I think in a taxi and then they start asking us, did you cross the river. So, they sort of trying to find out which area we could be. And for three **** days taxi for the embassy taxi driving us around this area to try to see which would, don’t forget in Kuwait all buildings are individual. In London when you all buildings the same, every street is the same and it was till the third day. I said, that’s our place. And the reason why I’ve recognized it because the manager was a Sikh and he was cleaning outside the bed and breakfast where we had. And that’s when we went in and…

Sean O’Neill: Found your belongings.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Right, and that’s when I started blending okay.

Sean O’Neill: So, you’ve had a you’ve had a tough life. You’ve had an interest in life. But what fascinated me how you then got into the university and then you started really getting the grips with things. Tell us that part because your university days is absolutely fascinating.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Well, I thought to be honest when I first look, I’m going to vape whether you like it or not. Is that alright? Where’s my **** vape, man.

Sean O’Neill: We don’t like it. We love it.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: You do.

Sean O’Neill: Of course.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: So, I loved I thoroughly enjoyed being in London and the night life etcetera. At this summer of 1976, which the wild the nice weather, the wild bark is at night. In September, I registered in a college in Leicestershire, Loughborough. My voice was so bloody dull. Coming out of London to Loughborough and I couldn’t. So, one weekend I came to visit my friends here in Liverpool. And having spent the weekend here I thought Liverpool is the place for me. So, I enrolled in a college and I went to the university and I got my degree. And at the time my father when I finished my degree thought, right, time for you to come back to Kuwait and work. I said, no, no, no I want to do a higher degree and I got my PhD and what’s still a record time between my finishing the degree and finishing the PhD work. So, I got a PhD at a very early age.

The university were very keen to keep me for my research and for, I was actually a good lecturer as well good professor. So, I stayed on for a number of years and my research work was to do with what we call digital image processing. So, like every time now you drive and you speed on a camera captures your number plate and recognizes the number plate without having somebody to read it. That’s my initial, that’s stems from my research. So, my research was to do with the digital limits processing. And it had was very clever piece of works. I must have been clever at the time. I must have been good at things and somebody else took a like into my research from the Middle East. I mean quite clearly; I was still working the university when I got a call that the University of Technology in Iraq.

Sean O’Neill: I love this story.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Was interested in my research work and entrusted in me setting up a facility for them. So, I said, yeah. So, I set up this company right because I was still working for the university the university wanted me to do it, but they wanted the share of the company. So, I said, fine. So, set up this company called BMK electronic consultants. So, I got invited to Iraq and I had an Irish friend who was helping me an Irish lecturer from Ireland. So, both of us you could imagine a Palestinian and an Irish going to Iraq. And Iraq at that time was the darling of the west, because they were fighting their arch enemy Iran. So, whatever the Iraqis wanted, the Iraqis could have, okay? So, when they approached me, yeah, do it. So, we learned in Iraq thinking, I’m going to the University of Technology.

So, the following morning they come and escort in a car, take me to what’s about to be the University of Technology. And all of a sudden **** hell. I’m not in a university campus. I’m in a military facility, right? And very clearly what they wanted is for me to help design software and hardware so they could guide their missiles, right? So, my technology was to be used to guide missiles. So, I come back here to England, yeah, I could do it and I could build a facility and I had the knowledge, the technology, but obviously I needed equipment from both the UK and the US. First chunk of money was due to arrive on the 15th of August 1990 and that’s when I was due to receive to go and get my 3 BMWs, the ones I’ve ordered and yeah, I was rich mate. I was and late July i.e. like and I’ll tell you the significance of the second of August in a minute, right? So, the first chunk of money was due to come in on the 15th of August. 

Don’t forget that money the revocable confirmed letter of credit was guaranteed by Kuwait, because the Iraqi, the banks here won’t recognise the Iraqi bank. So, they needed a bank to guarantee it.

And in a week before the 2nd of August, I was in Iraq. And one day I get a call that I’m invited at night, not invited sorry just need to be ready at 8 o’clock, 7 o’clock whatever the time was. And somebody knocked at my door, hotel door, yeah, you’re ready. I said, yeah. And normally wherever I go in Iraq because my work is so secretive, I would be escorted by somebody. 

I had my what they called bodyguard, but really not a bodyguard as such but somebody to keep an eye in case I’m spying for somebody, right? And I always had my own driver and I wasn’t allowed to move anywhere without this driver and this guy escorting me. But that particular night, I had a different guy, a huge guy come and lock the door, yeah, ready to go come on and he took me from the room into a blacked-out Mercedes. A car that doesn’t even have a number plate. And we’re driving in the middle of Baghdad.

Whenever there’s a red light you go around the red light. Traffic lights and all of a sudden, I started thinking **** hell, have they? Do they think I’m a double agent? Are they going to kill me? that’s all what goes through your head. Have I upset them? Because the guy is not talking to me. I’m literally **** myself. And all of a sudden when we leave Baghdad into the desert, I’m thinking that’s it. This is my last sight of Baghdad. I’m not going to say it again. Genuinely I thought I was going to be killed. Okay? The Iraq is at the time, they don’t mess around. Okay? If they suspected that you were spying for somebody to kill you. And that week they actually did shoot two British people who were accused of spying for Iran.

Then all of a sudden driving in the desert from a distance I see a building with lights. So, I think maybe they’re not going to shoot me, maybe they’re going to put me in prison but as you getting closer to that building, the security checks, 2, 3 checks. And in the last check, I get asked to leave the car I was in and get into another car to take me in the building and that’s when you realize this is not a **** prison. This is a palace. Right? And I thought…

Sean O’Neill: Relief?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Relief. So, I go in into the palace. And again, the 2nd of August is to start, when a war started between Kuwait and, between Iraq and Kuwait.

Sean O’Neill: So, you still haven’t asked any questions

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I’m just going with the floor and I go into this big hall in a palace and that’s you get told that the president mister Saddam Hussein is coming to join us for dinner. So, I got invited for dinner with Saddam Hussein and with us at that time there was the Iraqi ambassador to Britain who was called in for consultation. She was having dinner with. The American ambassador in Baghdad the British ambassador along with the **** high delegation. So, I’m thinking **** hell. Why am I with them? And that’s when you get also told don’t bother your hand out to shake the president’s hand unless he does that to you, right? 

So, I’m in the middle of this lineup. And Mister Hussein comes in. Walks past most. He had somebody behind him to tell him who each one is. Right? When he came to me, He must have told him who I was. I was the only one he shook hands with. Thank you. **** hell and he’s, you know regardless what we think of him or what the people have different abuses sometimes and I get it. But he was a **** charming bastard. In the few minutes; I spoke to him. He’s very charming bastard. Like speaking to him like I’m speaking to you now. Forgetting who you are or who he is.

He’s a charming bastard and like had couple of minutes chat with him, saying and talking about Palestine and how proud he is of me that I’m a Palestine and helping his, an Arab country and so on. So, I came back to England late July, the 30th of July and on the 2nd of August he invaded Kuwait and Kuwait were the ones who were paying for my project, right? And because it was a full invasion, obviously the UN Council Security Council met and all of a sudden there’s an embargo of Iraq, right? And all contracts and null and void.

Sean O’Neill: So, your BMWs are still in the garage.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: The BMW is gone. So, the **** hell. A month later, right, I carried on, tried something else and I was in Malaysia, okay? And I remember being in the bathroom having a shave and the TV is on and I hear the word BMK. And I’m thinking ****, that can’t be my company must be something else. Right? So, good dressed went downstairs and every **** looking at me. Everybody in the lobby looking at me. so, I grabbed the newspaper and here I am a photo of me in the newspaper. The news straight times, the Malaysian big paper. The bloody Americans right, named me among the ten other companies, accused us of supplying nuclear weapons to Iran. All of a sudden, I am the public enemy number one in the UK. I’m somebody who’s been selling nuclear weapons to Iraq, right? So, and there’s an embargo on me there’s an embargo, because the university had a share in the company, there’s an embargo on them as well. That meant the university couldn’t buy any like any equipment from America and whatever the Americans said that the time, the British people would…

Sean O’Neill: Believe.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Would follow, right? So, that night I’m bringing the vice chancellor of the university. Saying to him, Peter, really sorry mate for what? Of course, the university. He said, don’t be silly, why should you be, you made me very famous? Asked him, what do you mean? He said to me, I’m on news at 5:45. News at 6:00, news at 7:00, 9:00, 10:00. He said, I’m very famous. And what he did, when the news broke out? He got into the file and he got the two approvals, right? And if you do a search, you’d see a photo of the vice chancellor on number 2 Rodney Street, on Rodney Street on the steps of Rodney Street for the cameras with two pieces of paper saying, one from the DTI one from the State Department granting us permission to supply electronic equipment to Iraq that we have not supplied yet, had nothing to do with nuclear weapons. And that’s when I think the British government knew they **** **** with us. Right?

Sean O’Neill: So, you’re in Malaysia alone at this stage?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I’m in Malaysia. Told to stay where I was.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah. For safety.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Don’t come back. Stay where you are. After a week my Irish friend, the cameras were following him wherever he went and he had absolutely, had nervous breakdown and he needed medical treatment. Because an Irish and a Palestinian Iraqi wow, made beautiful stories in papers here with the nuclear weapons. Then after a week when the mistake was realized, I was told to come back. So, I flew on a plane and when we landed at Heathrow, they said, Marwan Koukash, identify yourself to the cabin, one of the cabin members, which I did. And I was told to stay but when we land and somebody will come and escort me out. And that’s when the immigration officer came in and police took me off the plane, stamped my passport, collected my luggage, got me out of the side door of Heathrow away from the media that was waiting for me outside and put me in a safe house in, I think Watford at the time for a week or two until things died down.

Sean O’Neill: So, are you still at the moment thinking where’s all my money? Where’s my future going now?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Oh **** hell.

Sean O’Neill: What’s happening tomorrow?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: What people going to be looking at me and are they going to believe the truth or they going to still then be with the person was supplying. Because by then Iraq was at war with British, with the Britain as well. Because the Britain and the American joined forces to fight the Iraqis and you really needed to be careful with what the public thought of you as well. But very quickly managed, I mean the mistake was realized straight away and came back to the university. And I said to Peter. Peater her was still over the moon. This is the vice chancellor. He’s very famous. I’ve had him very famous and all I could think of, come on, we need conversation here.
Sean O’Neill: Yeah, he hadn’t got three BMWs wearing.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: But at least I need someone. And so, we put a case together to take the British government and I could speak real about it now because the conditions in which I had to take why it has lapsed now. And they knew the government obviously they knew there’s going to go to court for compensation etcetera. Then I got a visitor, right, that tried to persuade me. It’s not a good idea to take a government to court and it will affect the university funding and but instead will give you a very attractive salary for three years to act as a consultant. And then he said, oh, by the way, you recently applied for a British passport. I said, yeah. He said, it will take five years to start processing it. I said, yeah. He said, oh, I’ve got friends who could get it for you for three weeks’ time. Which they did and so I was very thankful. So that became that’s it.

Sean O’Neill: So, you moved on?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I moved on and I moved on and by like when you taste what success is going to be like play around with the millions, etcetera. I was still working in the university and I thought driving to the university one day And I thought you know what? I’m much better than being in a university environment for the rest of my life. And I thought **** this. And I went in.

Sean O’Neill: Since the beginning of the Marwan?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Then you Marwan the businessman yeah. And I sort of went in to see my boss the vice chance and I said, I’m going. I need to go. And this is literally like quarter to nine.

Sean O’Neill: So, this is the early 90s still?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: The early 90s and 91 or 92 by then. And I said, I just needed to go. I honestly and quarter to nine I resigned. His office was on the second floor, my staff were on the third floor and I thought I’m not even going to go upstairs to say goodbye to my staff, because I didn’t want to have the moment you start saying goodbye to people might start introducing doubt in your mind. And sometimes the best decision to make is the one that you don’t think about. If you want to take risk, don’t think about it because the more you think about it, the more doubt…

Sean O’Neill: Yeah.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: You’ve got in your mind. So, just go with it, right? And I thought right. I’m going to do it. I’ve done it. I’m going to walk away from it.

Sean O’Neill: You’ve now quit the university with money in your back pocket. What’s next?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Well, once you’ve tasted the life of a business man and the rewards of being a business person et cetera. That’s what you want to be and I don’t want to stay in the academic environment or work for somebody else. I wanted to work for myself and he always, whatever we do in life we always think ahead what we can do. We never just, I never, I’m not the kind of person who would live in his comfort zone. I’m always thinking of what else I could do. So, did I have a plan when I leave the university? Yes, I did. Right? Was the plan solid? No, it was risky. But it was the rewards from that plan outweighs the risks. Right?

So, I quit the university. And I remember coming out on number two Ridden Street. There used to be a telephone box. Phone box and I rang my girlfriend Maddie who became my wife. And I said, I said to her, Mandy, by then it’s like 9 o’clock in the morning she’s still asleep. I said, I’m coming back home. Said why? I said, just quit. She said, you **** what? I said, I’ve just quit the university and I’m coming home. So, got home, calmed her down, sorted her, and we came back into Liverpool and at the time I lived in lived in some towns. We came back into Liverpool and I bought a fax machine. I went to Dixon’s electronic retail store and bought a fax machine and I bought a word processor and I sat up an office in my house in one of the spare bedrooms.

By then, I made arrangement with my brother for him to quit his job in Dubai as well, okay? And to set up a company that we called Euromatic, which is European Management and Technology. So, what we wanted to do to transport or transfer European knowledge management and technology into the Middle East and the best way to do that through training. So, we set up we call a training company and the training company would employ the services of a consultant, somebody who’s big in the field. Take for example, leadership for example, and would organize like 5-day training seminars and would invite people from various companies in the Middle East to participate.

At the time, there was a lot of training companies in Dubai, okay? And Dubai was a favorite place because a lot of people from the Middle East wanted to go to Dubai. They could drink, they could womanize, they could do whatever and so we decided to make Dubai our center. Mohammed, my brother had the links with various oil companies there. I had the links here with the academia world. So, we found this really good training consultant who will deliver a 5-day training seminar for us. I thought, right, all the training companies there they run their training seminars using their training centers. So, it’s like going to a university environment. I thought, no. Let’s be different. Let’s run our training seminar in a 5-star hotel. So, we went to the very best hotel in Dubai. And we advertised the seminar run this hotel.

The schedule is you have breakfast in the morning, you have dinner that and you have a social day out, we take, so we made it. The whole package was great, better than anybody else. Sometimes the price you charge plays mind games of the people, they equate it with quality. So, rather than charge $600 per delegate. We were charging $4,000 per delegate. For the very first seminar, we got nearly 40 delegates coming in, paying $400, sorry, $4000 each, making huge amounts of money. So, our blue of how to do things was the right one and we stole a march on all the other competitors.
Sean O’Neill: And often did you do these?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Oh, well when we started, we thought be great to do one a month. Last this year, we’re doing about 50 a week. But what else we did and again it’s always come out of your comfort zone, okay? Being in Dubai, it’s a comfort zone for everybody etcetera, and we thought why don’t we run them in London if people are willing to travel from Saudi Arabia to go to Dubai surely, they’ll be willing to come to London as well. So, we were the first to start organizing training seminars in London for people from the Middle East then all of a sudden let’s try America. People started coming to California. Amsterdam, they loved it. And we became an organization that was running a training seminar all over the world, from Australia to California. That’s what made us way ahead of the competition.

Now, the challenge is to find because everybody whenever you succeed in things, people want to copy your success. Okay? So now, we will start running training seminars in cruise ships. Yeah, we do run seminars in Miami now but instead of staying Miami all the time, flying to Miami, we’ll put you on a cruise ship, we’ll take you to the Bahamas, Barbados and so on. So, always you need to be ahead with the competition and you dare to be shot at.

Sean O’Neill: So, is there a, it seems like everything you do ends up being the best or recognized nationally, globally.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Yeah, you need to

Sean O’Neill:  Is there is there a secret ingredient of how that comes about?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: If you’re aiming for it, just aiming for it and recognising the fact that and again it’s always getting out of your comfort zone. It’s so easy, so comfortable living in your comfort zone. But I wake up every morning challenging myself. What else can we do in everything I do.

Sean O’Neill: In the decade that I’ve known you, every time I’ve sat with you, there’s always been a new challenge.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: And I love it.

Sean O’Neill: Some intentional.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Mate, that’s me. That’s me. Whether everything I participated in horse racing, in property, in rugby, in TV, it’s always been push.

Sean O’Neill: So, was the event still going?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: The events were still going obviously, right? And one night I was out with my wife on Victoria Street close by where the hotel is now. And I had a lot of friends with night clubs, the living rooms, Metro etcetera. So, we used to hop from one bar to another, from one club to another until one day she said, how come all your friends has got bars and restaurants or nightclubs on Victoria Street and you don’t have one. So, I thought we’ll get one. So, I started asking around for a space and Victoria Street at the time was very hot. There’s no availability at all and just off Victoria Street, there’s a road or a street called Saint Thomas Street and I was told there’s availability there. So, I went to look at the basement of that building.

Sean O’Neill: The Municipal Annex?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: The municipal annex and I fell in love with the whole building, and I thought…

Sean O’Neill: Yeah, for anyone that doesn’t know this is a building that goes round three roads.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Yeah, Saint Thomas.

Sean O’Neill: It’s a building when you go when people come to the city, they take out the camera and they photograph the building and go, wow, look at that building. So, it’s not just any normal building.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Absolutely. It looks beautiful from outside but absolutely gorgeous from inside and that’s when I started thinking of it as a hotel and why a hotel as well because my events, business relies on hotels. So, I thought rather than run events in other people’s hotels I could start running them in mine. And I got addicted to the idea and we bought the first building then we started thinking, well, hang on a minute we could buy the next one.

Sean O’Neill: Oh yeah, so they weren’t all it wasn’t one building, they were all separate.
Sean O’Neill: No, separate building. So, we bought the first one then the second and the third and we brought in an architect to look at the three of them. And he said to me, what do you want to do with them? And I said, convert them to hotel. And he said, it will never **** work. Because what you had you had three buildings from outside that looked totally different. Different level then we thought the only way to make it work is to knock the middle building down and build something in you to bring the other two together. Was an interesting project that took 7 years to complete 7, 8 years and now I’m the proud owner of a fantastic hotel in the city center, which I call it’s my Trophy of Life. I remember because it took so long to open. We had a lot of contractors going bankrupt or through it’s it was a very difficult project.

Sean O’Neill: Remember the journey.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: And it was a very hard journey and I remember during that journey that when the only person who was on site is me. Everybody walked out and I stayed there my own guard in the building.

Sean O’Neill: But that’s like we started story of survival, because for the people who went through the recession of 2008, you started in the boom.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: Most people who were in developments or in any kind of construction industry or collapsed. So, you didn’t just manage to open a hotel. There’s a story behind how you even survived the period to end up

Dr. Marwan Koukash: And people ask me how did I manage it or what mentality did have and I think going back to September, Black September, the Civil War of Jordan learned the survival lessons. I learned from there held me great deal and helped me to stay focused and see the end result before you got there. And that’s what got me through. I remember on the day we were due to open and I had all my staff and my wife then lining up on set on the street to cut the ribbon they were expecting me to cut the ribbon. But instead, I sat in the car by the side of the road I looked at them and I was crying. Crying, relief, joy, happiness, but we finally got there and it’s been a fantastic journey.

Sean O’Neill: Is there any, a lot of my lessons and how I’ve eh created friendship is through the stories of how 2008 recession really had a huge impact and I still love the scars from and I try not to downplay that. Is there any sort of lessons or words of wisdom? I know your history of who you are as a person got you through that. But, is there anything there because I think that’s something that should never be forgotten and should be passed on especially for someone who’s got a hotel.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: is never to give up. Right answer yourself with people. You could, there are things you could never do on your own. You need to surround yourself with good people. And finally love the good person I had that held me great deal at the time is my bank manager. Honestly, I mean he was…

Sean O’Neill: Very few people could say that.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Very few people could say that. But if you ask me again but lesson, I could tell people, if you believe in what you’re doing, don’t give up on it. Life is never easy. They’ll always be hard as in any road bumps. Just overcome the difficulties might not be easy, take your time, never give up. Talking about my bank manager, he was a fantastic guy and I think even during the recession and through the difficulties, he kept sort of inviting me to go to places where socially introduced me to a lot of good people. And one thing he kept inviting me to is horse racing which is something that I’ve never had any interest in. And I remember going one day to, eventually I agreed to go after many invites and we went to Haydock Racecourse. And in there, I think the bank hired the box and, in the box, there were a lot of good people. People that later on became friends of mine and helped me further on with my journey and this is before the hotel opened by the way. And I had a very enjoyable day and I thought, do you know what? I’m going to recreate this again but I’m going to try to buy a horse and enter it. I mean, we had a fantastic day that day, right? And I thought, you know what? The day could’ve even be better had one of us on the horse.

Sean O’Neill: Just one horse.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: One horse at the time, right? Just to put it in for the day to race on the day and just to add extra excitement.

Sean O’Neill: I think people are going to know where this story is going. Just one horse for anyone that’s listening.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: So, it was started with one horse. Recreated the same event, so invited the people who were there three weeks earlier and the horse that I bought was very good horse and actually started the race as the favorite. He was the best horse in the race and everybody expected the win. The bloody thing finished last, right? And I thought what do I do here? Do I give up and walk away from this? No, I didn’t. A few months later I bought another horse that I was told could run in the biggest race in the North West which is the Chester Cup and just to have a runner in the Chester Cup will be great. The horse was probably one of the worst horses in the race and the odds on it was 66-to-1. And I remember going in the parade ring just pre-race and of course at the time nobody knew me, I didn’t know anybody at Chester. So, when the race started, I was on the fence like 6, 7 deep behind everybody so I could hardly see any action. The only thing that I could, but I could hear the name of my horse Bulwark, Bulwark, Bulwark. Not because he was first or second because he was right at the back of the race and please God let him beat one or two.

Then there was a lot of commotion towards the end of the race, and I asked this guy next to me, who won? And he goes like this with his betting slip **** Bulwark which is my horse.

Sean O’Neill: You’re at the back of the.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I was at the back I couldn’t see anything. Not only I had a runner in the biggest race in Chester, but bloody won the race. And I just went ballistic and I went straight to the parade ring and I was jumping up and down. the race was covered on Channel4, the F language was coming out of me like not tomorrow. But that race made me fall in love with racing in Chester.

Sean O’Neill: Ahat must have been the biggest adrenaline rush?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Oh, mate it was unbelievable and the Chester Cup itself right nobody in the history of and it’s been running for nearly 400 years no one had won it more than once. Except me. I won it now four times, right? Which is an absolutely incredible experience. But going back to racing as well from that day when the first horse I had finished last. Three years later, I became the first owner, individual owner in British racing history to win 100 races in one year. Which is a very proud achievement. And nobody’s ever repeated it since. For me, that’s not because I throw money at it or I had hundreds and hundreds of horses. I was determined to succeed. And I was determined to have 100 runners. Sorry, 100 winners that year. And I was hands on knowing every single horse of mine. Which type of ground they like to run in. Some horses like it to be soft, some horses like it to be hard, some horses like to be going clockwise, some horses like to go anti clockwise, some horses suit a suitable trainer more than others. So, all the planning I did myself that year and that’s how come I’ve had 100 winners.

Sean O’Neill: So, the next question anyone would have is you’ve at all of these successful businesses.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Yeah.

Sean O’Neill: You’ve moved into a new era in your business life. Never mind being the expert in that and focus on that. How have you kept everything else going? And how have you, because you only have a certain amount of hours in the day?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Which is enough.

Sean O’Neill: You can only break so many records at once. But how have you then managed to keep everything else going?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: It’s very difficult to explain but there’s enough hours in the day to do it and if you focus on what’s important rather than get involved with everything. And it wasn’t that difficult to do and yeah, I mean my business carried on being very successful in Dubai and we went from one strength to another. And with racing, I became genuinely the one of the most successful owners in British racing history. Since that day when I finished last, I’ve won more than 590 races. But it’s not just the races I’ve won. It’s the friends you make within the racing industry and really was very privileged to have known the queen, to gone racing with the queen and I had many happy memories with her and many laughs. And whenever I was invited into her box at Ascot, it would be an informal occasion in which.

Sean O’Neill: Did you mind your language then?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Only once I forgot where I always celebrate what my tradition. So, like strikers when they score a goal they celebrate in a certain way, right? When I win a race, I just can’t help it I just gone, I **** won it. I did that once in front of her. So, I think I’m one of the few people who’s ever got away with it. And I think the media, some of the media found out what happened that day. But look she was fine about it and she knew that’s who I was and everybody get excited and celebrate in a certain way. That a few years I’ll have to tell you this story. 5, 6 years ago, I think either ITV or the BBC, obviously they knew of my friendship with the queen. And that’s when they started planning for when the queen passes away. They wanted to have enough material, take it out and play it. People who had their links with the queen, stories to tell about the queen.

So, they came to our house 5 years ago 5, 6 years ago and they psych you up that the queen just died and you have to talk about her life, your friendship with her. So, I sat there with Mandy and holding hands, been in love with that, we’ve been sad talking about the queen died et cetera and totally forgot about it, right? Then when the queen actually died, they played that tape, right? But what happened since I got divorced? So, I was no longer with my wife. So, everybody who seen….

Sean O’Neill: Your old hands.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Holding hands etcetera. Oh, they were ringing me. Oh, great to see you back with Mandy. But other cause I was getting you cheating bastard. You’re not divorced, you are with your wife. So, it’s no racing brought me a lot of fun memories and I have a lot of stories to tell. I’ve met a lot of nice people. And because of the, I mean, with racing, most of the big owners and I’d like to consider myself as one of them would either be kings, princesses, rich people who had no correction with the real people, right? Regardless of the number of winners I’ve had, regardless of the success, I was just the guy next door and I connected very well with the average person. So, Chester, you see me walking around with people talking to people. People want approaching before photographs. I’ll be more than happy to do so, signing things etcetera.

And I had a very very good profile. And that’s I think when one day I was travelling to Dubai and I sat next to a guy who must have thought it’s his lucky day, because he was the CEO of the Rugby League. And I think they’ve been desperate for a while to attract me into the sport in order to own a club or get involved in the club in order to raise the profile of the sport. By the end of the flight somehow, he managed to get me interested in the sport. So, I said to him, okay, when I get back from Dubai, we’ll meet up again and we’ll look at what this club he was offering me has to offer. The club is called Salford City Reds as it was named. And yeah, came back from Dubai. Talk to the owners and with the help of the guy who was sitting next door to me, next seat to me. And I remember going to sign on the dotted line and I said to this guy his name is Nigel. I said, Nigel, I can’t believe what I’m doing. He said, what do you mean. He said, I’m going to buy a rugby club and I know nothing about the sport. He said to me, well what do you want to know? As the first start, how many players make up a team? I don’t even know that.

And he said to me, look, in rugby league, not rugby, in rugby league, a team consist of 13 players. You’ve got 4 small men who are the jurors who do all the running and 9 other butt big men who beat the shit out of each other and that’s what make up a team. So, 9 big men, 4 small and that’s the team.

Sean O’Neill: So, then you signed on the dotted line?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I went there and signed in the dotted line pretending to know a lot about the sport. Then a week later was our first game.

Sean O’Neill: Do you know just before we go into this, because and I just want to confirm. One of the main thing you’ve touched on here and for me the most important thing is the lessons people get out of this. They don’t want to see you as some wealthy guy that knows everyone that can just buy businesses. I’ve known you for over 10 years and the amount of time that you’ve given me, when I call you to meet up you don’t just meet up for 5 minutes you actually spend so much time with the stories getting to know me.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: You’re an interesting guy.

Sean O’Neill: Getting to help me, but I know you do this with so many people. You’ve then you dedicate your time on that flight. I guarantee you give that that man so many hours and wisdom and advice that not that he needed you or wanted you, needed you to buy a club is because he wanted you to because of the time you spent with them and it’s not that you’ve amassed wealth or wisdom. You’ve actually still kept grounded. You’re able to walk round Chester as you said before with the normal people as well as the not so normal for want of a better word. And I just want to, the most important thing I want here is for everyone to stand how success doesn’t mean that you move on and you forget about where you started. And that’s one thing that even yesterday I was able to offer you a small helping hand in something because of the amount of time and guidance and help that you’ve given me.

And that’s why I want to make sure before we go to the rugby story that this is in the story of someone who just made loads of money. This is a story that someone incredible story and I’m honored to be your friend and honored to be able to work with you and spend so much time with you. But the story is that no matter what is created whether it’s wealth or recognition that if you do lose the foundations of where you’ve come from, there is a huge chance you’ll lose everything along the way.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: You become a fake personality. You become a fake person right and forgetting who you are, where you came from and you’re absolutely right. I mean, when I sat next to that guy, obviously at the start of the flight, he wanted me to be involved in the sport. By the time we spent 6, 7 hours together and me telling stories and who I am etcetera. He was more keen for me to get involved in the sport.

Sean O’Neill: And he would have saw, he actually would have understood your real value.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Just a real person. A real person and not this guy who’s got money to burn et cetera and he knows that I would add benefit to the sport and not just by spending money in the sport.

Sean O’Neill: That’s one of the things get regularly as people come to me because they think that I can invest. And I and they don’t realize that the investment, the money is this.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: The bigger investment is the person.

Sean O’Neill: It’s the time, effort, knowledge, introduction and this is so important on every part of your story that you’ve now told. We could break that down into hours of knowledge, wisdom and the money side of it is actually one of the smallest parts.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: So going back to the rugby.

Sean O’Neill: The rugby.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: So, the first game of the season, right? What did it bloody tell me is that the club I bought all the good players in the team left because they were going through financial difficulty and I didn’t know how bad we were until the first game. And in the first game, I said to one of the coaching staff, Lachie Buttercupman sit next to me and explain to me what’s going on, what goes on during a match. Because I don’t know about tackles kicking whatever I’ve never watched a rugby game in my life before I watched my team. The team I’ve just bought. The guy must have known we were shit. We were going to get hammered and he stayed away. So, I’m sat in, I walked into the stadium, get out of my car. Sky Sports were there to film the event. So literally met me by the car and the cameras were focused on me walking into the stadium. Then I go and sit on my box and had a few drinks and the game started and I’m looking for the guy. Where is he? And I thought, he’s not, he’s lost his way. I’ll watch it myself.

The game blood started and the only thing that I could follow genuinely is the scoreboard started. We bled at the time the biggest or the strongest team in the competition called Wigan. And it goes 6 nil, 12 nil, 18 nil. And I’m thinking **** hell, what have I bought? Right? 24 nil. We ended up losing 54 nil, right? The next game was in France. Went there and we came back losing 28 nil, right? Third game was a little bit better we lost 64-4, right? So, at least we scored some points but then came the fourth game and we played London.

Sean O’Neill: Had you figured out the rules by this stage?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I sort of, not totally, I knew if you score a try, you get four points and if you do a conversion, you get two points and when I was saying 6 nil, 12 nil. That’s when the other teams are scoring a try and a conversion and so on and then I was told prepare yourself, you got to have the first win. Because we playing the **** team in the competition who were even worse than us right so tailed up to the stadium with a big smile on my face we’re going to have a winner a win today. And quite often, I like to watch the game from behind the sticks with the fans. I come down from my box and just behind the goal or behind the sticks as we call them and with the normal fans and they’re all getting excited. We’re going to get the first one. We got bloody hammered absolutely hammered at home to the worst team. And that’s when I realized something has to be done. I didn’t like the name Salford City Reds. It looked soft, right?

So, on the way from behind the sticks to going back to the dressing room or change room where the boys were. I decided to call the club, rename it in my mind. It’s going to be called Salford Red Devils instead of Salford City Reds. And there’s a reason why I need to bring that in a minute. Then I went to see the team and the coach and it’s like none of them were bloody bothered. The fans I was with were gutted to being humiliated like that to a team like London and the players and the coaching staff, so what? And that’s when I needed to make the change. And I made big changes. I asked the CEO to come up to see me and I said to him go downstairs and tell the coach, this time is up.

So, what do you mean? I said, just tell him this time is up. He said, can we have a meeting about meeting to discuss? I said, go and tell him his time is up. And so, he went downstairs came back tell me I’ve told him asked him, can I tell you something else as well, you’re part of the failure and your time is up now, changes now. so, I’ve got rid of that day of the CEO. I got rid of coach and that’s when I started making the changes, serious changes because I wasn’t going to carry on being part of a team that was getting hammered every day.

Sean O’Neill: So, is there any transition where you then have nobody? You’ve got no coach or have you lined up?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I had a assistant coach?

Sean O’Neill: Yeah.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Brought him in. The COI brought in somebody else.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: And then within two weeks we started making changes. Signing players, proper decent players. And we, listen within two three years of that date. We were competing for trophies. So, the changes I made I didn’t make them just for the sake of making them. I made them for success. Obviously, I mean.

Sean O’Neill: How did you keep the fans on side? Because that’s you saw the passion.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I saw me as one of them.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I was never your typical owner, an owner of a club whether it’s rugby or football. I was one of them. I’d go to away games with them on coaches. I sit with them. True that when you are an owner of a rugby club, you need to entertain the visiting club so you sit with them in my box. But once you’ve done all the entertainment and just before the game starts, I always walk down and go and stand with the fans or I sit with the fans. When we travel when we’re playing away, yeah, I go to the home side with the entertainment as an owner. But once the game starts again, I’m back with our fans staying with the visitors. So, I kept them on side. They knew I was doing the best for them.

And in rugby like in many footballs, there’s a cap in which you could, there’s only so much money you could spend. And for a number of years obviously people in you. I had to cheat in the salary cap. A lot of football clubs do that. I did it in rugby as well. The authorities to set in degree tend to blind die. But the very people who took wanted me in the sport by then started wanting me out, okay? I was called for disciplinaries every bloody month I was going up to Leeds they’ll find something about me about the club about whatever and I’m called for disciplinary. Until one day was national news came out that the authorities charged my club breachers of salary cap regulations even me couldn’t defend it because I did cheat, I did overspend. And as a result, they took so many bonds from my club that during that season, that took us down from near the top to our relegation. And genuinely by that time, they probably wanted my club out of the top league. So, we had to play, I think we played that allegation game in Hull against one of the Hull teams.

Sean O’Neill: But at that time did the fans then support you or did because it can change very quickly. Did they keep on your side?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: No, they were very supportive and look whatever I’ve done that resulted in us being points taken away. They knew.

Sean O’Neill: For the right reasons.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: For the right reasons. I wasn’t doing it for any other reason. I mean they knew I was spending money. 

Sean O’Neill: In the club.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: In the club here, I was investing in the club. Look, we were every season we finished last. But when I came in you know we started climbing up the table. And so, we played we went to Hull to play that relegation game. And it’s a game that we knew we were confident of winning. And that particular game will go down in history as possibly the biggest sporting comeback ever in any sport. The stacks were high. 2 minutes to go. We were the equivalents in football to probably be three goals down with two minutes to go. So, the emotions were very high, the Hull because we were playing away, they were really high, they thought they survived and they won the game our fans you look at them from distance, miserable, given up, we’re going to lose. So, I looked at our bench and our medical team at that time.

Sean O’Neill: Never give up.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: And they were like crying you know gone. And I walked down. Genuinely walked down mate. And you could see that on the coverage from the BBC, I think. Walking down and I walked straight to the spoke to the coach. Said, don’t give up. There’s still two minutes to **** go. We can’t **** do this, right? And with the 2 minutes, the next thing absolutely incredible, we went scored three times. We survived. I couldn’t believe it, right? 2 minutes earlier, the Hull fans were giving me that **** **** goodbye Super League, right? And I was with my daughter at the time and the language that was coming out of them is, and when we won with seconds to go.

Sean O’Neill: At the same celebration as the.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: And you could see it. **** well, it and I turned around to the fans. But what happened next right? Okay then I thought what have I done here? Because all the Hull fans ran to me because I ran on the bench right to celebrate and they all come in to me. Next thing our fans came into me to protect me, right? And **** everywhere on the beach became a fight. Between our fans and theirs. And I’m here in the middle with my daughter. I’m thinking get me out of here. Right? Eventually I got through the tunnel into safety.

Sean O’Neill: You said to me a few weeks ago no matter where you go trouble follows you.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: But that’s the trouble I think I’ve caused myself. I’m a human. Right? I’m a human being. I’m a fan. And to be three goals down or you need to score three goals to survive. And you do it. We all have emotions, right? And you don’t just say we **** want it you do a lot more, okay? And I remember an hour after the game when calm down, I need to go and I was walking out with Layla out of their stadium and the police said to me, where are you going. I said, I’m going to my car. He said, if you go out, they’ll kill you. And our fans, I might I needed police escort to get me out of Hull. I had a police car in front of me, a police car at the back of me and they escorted me out of Hull and said to me, don’t come back for a while. So, rugby really.

Sean O’Neill: So how do you then deal with that? Because it’s okay, you’ve then got your daughter. She’s not conditioned to the all of the experiences of life. How do you bring that into a lesson that you can give up?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Like I don’t know man. I mean what a bloody lesson that I set up for it. I mean like Bu Layla always; I don’t know whether I embarrass her or what but she’s used to me. I remember being in.

Sean O’Neill: I’m sure a few people said that.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I remember going back to racing and we were racing in the Melborn cup. And for some reason or another because they know when I celebrate, I’m crazy. I’m not your typical owner for winning a race and they said to me, how are you going to celebrate winning this special race if you win it.

Sean O’Neill: I know this story.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I said, I’m going to, go up. Receive the trophy. I’m going to take strip off. Take all my clothes off. Go up receive the trophy. Wearing nothing but my G string. I don’t bloody wear G string anywhere.

Sean O’Neill: For anyone that can find this on Twitter. Honestly, I’ve seen the video.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Right. And I mean I’ve always, I’ve raced quite a lot in Australia and I love going there and I have a very special relationship with the media there and I love them and they love me and not knowing when we landed in Melbourne the media were waiting for me there to carry on with the story but the whole thing.

Sean O’Neill: So, you’re with the Layla at the stage.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I was with Layla, but then like few days later there was a parade in which I got paraded in the Melbourne, streets of Melbourne. And in the number, reminded me of bloody Tom Jones women taking their underwear off and throwing at Layla, Bu Lyla was just collecting them. She had a band full of G strings and I was doing so many TV interviews there that. And the more I did the more they wanted. And I said, okay, on the day of the race they have a TV station called a program Sunrise which is the equivalent to BBC Breakfast TV etcetera. So, they decided to do this interview, live interview. And they plan to bring the G string up, right? And they started talking about the burgundy one or in the color and they went to see it. I said to Layla, Layla was standing by me. I said, do you have it, Layla? She said, I look and she brought the bag. And then she started sifting through the bag to see where the burgundy went. But they asked her, does that is it that embarrassing? Embarrassing you? She said, no, I’m used to him. And he does it all the time.

Sean O’Neill: And this is the time and time again when I try to describe you or people say who is Marwan? I just say, have you a half an hour because there’s no point in me starting the story. But again, you’re a family man, father you balance all these things with somehow on the outside. Okay, you use your emotions and as you said before you can sack fast and you can hug and laugh and teach lessons along the way. But how have you balanced it between bringing up a family? Travelling the world, being a public figure, balancing the books, yet keeping it all at a level where you can speak to people on the street or the people you’ve got time for? Because you have time for everyone.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: I have time for everyone because again I repeat, you must never forget who you are. At the end of the day regardless how much money you have, how successful you are, you are a person, right? You could sit next to anybody. There’s nothing at the end of the day when we finish the journey. We are the same. We get married 6 feet under the same as everybody else. We came through the world same as everybody else and we live the same as everybody else. So, what we have is temporary. And you must never forget that you’re not bigger than anybody else just because you have power, you have fame, you have money. You still a father and you need to be a father. You a friend and you have friends you have work and you get just get on with everything mate.

The only thing recently that became difficult. Many years ago, I did the quite a few TV shows and my kids started feeling uncomfortable about being in the public eye for me to be that much in the public eye and that’s when I thought don’t want to be in front of the cameras anymore until you came along and convinced me to do this. But genuinely, I mean it’s I don’t know, I mean I look at the Australian experience, I enjoyed being who I am. And that’s why the media loved me there.

Sean O’Neill: And it’s natural to you.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: It’s natural to me because I don’t pretend to be anything else. Judge Rinder wanted me on his show.

Sean O’Neill: You’d fit quite well there.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: And they asked me if I ever had a dispute with somebody.

Sean O’Neill: Which week is that?

Dr. Marwan Koukash: And I did actually have a dispute with another club rugby another owner of a rugby club and we filmed that and that became the most entertaining and the most repeated episode of the, I think they repeated it 12 times. And then soon afterwards, I’m okay. Being a migrant myself, right? Something to has an influence on me being successful. And I got approached about 5, 6 years ago to do a TV show in which I didn’t know what was the title for it, was going to be. And in which is very similar to The Apprentice. And this was for Channel4. But instead of giving me the best of the best. They gave me the worst people you could imagine. People who just come out of prison, people who’ve never worked before, people who were truck takers, etcetera. They wanted me to try to make something out of them using my migrant mentality and who I am etcetera.

Sean O’Neill: So, they chose the right person for the job.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Apparently, it did work. So yeah, we’ve done the Channel4 a number of candidates. So, it was a genuine show and I had to choose from. And but when the filming started, it was my way. I have never done any scripted work whatsoever and I had to make something out of those guys to try to reflect my mentality or use my experience, my life experience, try to encourage them to change their ways. And I bought them through the racing, through the rugby, through the hotel and the showing was extremely successful. But then all of a sudden, I was very well known in rugby, very well known in racing world, but then to become to having a show that attracts 2.5 million viewers. You become very very famous, all of a sudden people stop you on the street. Because I was, I mean I came across extremely well even come people said and we’re talking about critics on newspapers are you know saying I came across better presenter than Lord Sugar, Alan Sugar.

Sean O’Neill: You’re able to balance humor and knowledge.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Exactly.

Sean O’Neill: You’re able to speak to the queen or these people you’re helping. So, t’s relatability.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: And three people of the five who started became a success. And two of them worked for me and one went back to Newcastle and worked in Newcastle and these are three guys who never worked before, who never held a job before, okay? And but then in the interest of the privacy of my family really and my kids were getting uncomfortable me being on national TV being and I took a decision then that that’s it, no more TV shows. And I didn’t want to carry on with it and I gave that all up. I enjoyed what I did and my family became more important.

Sean O’Neill: Well, I think the future this podcast and our friendship’s going to continue for a long time and I’m, for the people that don’t know you’ve got days and days and hours of stories. You’re a man with a huge heart.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Invite me again.

Sean O’Neill: Well, and that’s definitely what we’re going to do. You’ve got a huge heart, huge personality, huge pockets and a huge amount of time for people. And I’m really looking forward to having Marvan Koukash part two on here, because people could listen to you and they wouldn’t have to listen to anybody else with the stories, the lessons, the advice, the guidance. And again, I have to thank you for your friendship and for everything that the opportunities and the time you’ve given me. And again, I just like you thank you for the time you’ve spent with me today and I really look forward to getting you back on here later on in the year and by that stage we will have people that will be hooked on Marvan Koukash part two. So, thank you for everything you’ve done to me and thank you for the wisdom, and I really look forward to.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Can I tell you something? Right. Next time when you invite me, buy a bloody better coffee. The coffee here is cheap.

Sean O’Neill: Deal. Thank you so much Marwan Koukash.

Dr. Marwan Koukash: Thanks mate.