Ani Atanasova has been living in Dubai for ten years. In 2009, “Pixelhunters” was born and quickly became known as the Bulgarian animation company in Dubai. The company specialises
in 3D-content, computer animation, video game development and “Virtual Reality” applications
in the educational, corporate and entertainment sectors.
By Aneta Nedyalkova

Ani has a Ph.D. in Quantum and Optoelectronics and is an engineer of optical and mobile communications. Her company has won over 60 international awards. “Pixelhunters” collaborates with almost all the UAE universities in the field of 3D animations and video games. Atanasovi are the founders of the “Middle East Talents Awards”, a competition for digital art.

Discover the impossible. Did this principle bring you to Dubai, Ani?
My husband received a job offer 10 years ago. A year later we created “Pixelhunters”. Actually, the word “impossible” doesn’t exist in Dubai and indeed this motto matches with our ambitions. This is what keeps us here.
How did you start in this new world and reach your first customers?
Developing a business abroad is not easy. There is no state support, everything is a matter of independent struggle, development and proof. A good reputation is key. In today’s world of over-competition, everything is so dynamic that being “fast-paced” is one of the main factors of success – be the first, be the most innovative.

Why do you believe in the power of networking?
I believe in networking because developing a business also comes down to human relationships, where professionalism on its own is not enough. We need the trust, the value system, the credibility. Networking allows us to see people in a more relaxed environment, to judge them better. It’s always more enjoyable to work with people you like. Investing in people and relationships always pays back.
What are the projects you are most proud of?
Life in Dubai is really dynamic, we’ve all witnessed the incredible growth of the UAE in only 45 years. Dubai is a cosmopolitan city with many ambitions and bold projects.
The biggest challenge is to work with this crazy speed. Some of our projects are governmental, aimed at improving education and training, to meet the UAE needs, according to its Vision 2030. We develop various training apps in the format of games and Virtual Reality – we have solutions for the corporate sector as well.
We have a project integrated into the driving courses, another one will go on a roll out in the UAE schools, many projects we have done are “one of a kind” in a worldwide plan.
What rules should be adhered to in business relationships, especially by business women in Dubai?
I personally do not make a big distinction between Dubai and New York or London. Everybody speaks English; infrastructure, transport – everything is very advanced. People are positive, service everywhere is kind. The environment is international. Sometimes there are representatives of 10-15 different nationalities in the same office, but differences are overcome and there is always common language. Being a woman has not hindered me in the Arab world. But being a PhD and an engineer speaking five languages has opened many doors. In the other Arab countries they are slightly more conservative with regard to women, but the UAE ladies are very much empowered. In business, when you observe the business protocol and behave according to the norms, here it’s the same as in the rest of the world.

What does patriotism mean to you?
Today every young person is a citizen of the world. For example, we work for clients from over 14 different countries, our team consists of people from seven different nationalities. What makes people different is their national identity and culture. We are born and educated with a given self-consciousness. The fact that you live abroad does not make you less Bulgarian. And one day maybe we all will return to Bulgaria.
Ani, why did you like the idea of creating an International Business Alliance?
I think this idea is very good and will work for those people who are open and believe in it, contribute to it. Bulgarians have a reputation for being very negative and sceptical towards anything new. We look for reasons why something will not happen before we even give it a chance. This is the huge difference here, the word “impossible” simply does not exist! And indeed, if you are looking for ways to make something happen, it will happen! Unfortunately, every Bulgarian initiative gets criticism, rather than praise that someone has worked to realise it, even if this initiative can help so many people.
Are you planning to stay forever in Dubai?
One never knows where life will take you. But there comes a time when every Bulgarian wants to go home. I have no doubt that one day I will return to Bulgaria.

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