British Adventurer Philip Durrell Leads UAE’s Adventure Tourism Evolution at RAK Leisure

Meet Philip Durrell, the Senior Director of Adventure Activities at RAK Leisure, whose passion for the outdoors has shaped both his career and his outlook on life.

Philip’s journey began humbly, leaving school at 16 with dreams of architectural greatness. Little did he know, his path would veer dramatically when he joined the Royal Marines Commandos. Serving for 12 years, he honed his skills as a communicator, survival instructor, and leader. Reflecting on his time in the Marines, Philip acknowledges the profound impact it had on shaping his character and opening doors to new opportunities.

“I never really intended to stay in the Marines for long but ended up serving for 12 years and leaving as a Sergeant. Looking back on it, it was an amazing experience and opened so many doors for me.”

Leaving the military in his early 30s, Philip ventured into entrepreneurship, founding his own outdoor pursuits company. His expertise led him to Dubai, where he set up a leadership program and discovered a new home. Embracing the vibrant UAE landscape, he found himself drawn to the burgeoning adventure tourism sector.

“I had a great time in my role as Regional Manager for the expedition company in Dubai but in 2020 was approached by RAK Hospitality Holding about an exciting new role managing and developing the activities on Jebel Jais.”

Joining RAK Leisure over three years ago marked a pivotal moment in Philip’s career. Tasked with managing and developing activities on Jebel Jais, including the world’s longest zipline and the first Alpine coaster in the region, Philip found himself at the forefront of adventure tourism’s evolution in the UAE.

“I love the fact that I am involved in such an exciting time with the development of Adventure Tourism in this region. Every day there is a new challenge and it’s exciting to be involved in the developments going on today that will form the shape of Adventure Activities in the coming years in the region.”

Philip’s childhood memories of camping and scouting laid the foundation for his adventurous spirit. From scaling mountains to diving into icy waters, he thrives on challenges that push his physical and mental limits. Yet, amidst the adrenaline-fueled pursuits, Philip remains grounded by his belief in leading by example and giving back to communities in need.

“I’m a true believer that you should never ask someone to do something you were not prepared to do yourself.”

His time in Sierra Leone with the UN protection team left an indelible mark, reminding him of the importance of gratitude and empathy. It’s a lesson he carries with him, driving his commitment to making a positive impact wherever he goes.

“Seeing the students, as well as the local communities, working alongside each other and integrating was very humbling, and it’s something that has always stayed with me.”

To those embarking on their own journey to success, Philip offers simple yet profound advice: stay true to yourself, work hard, and never forget where you came from. It’s a mantra that has guided him through life’s challenges and propelled him to new heights.

“Be true to yourself and work hard. Think about where you want to be in 5 or 10 years, then make a plan on how you will get there, but … don’t forget where you are today or where you came from.”

As the sun sets over the desert horizon, casting a golden glow over the city skyline, Philip Durrell stands as a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and the unwavering spirit of adventure. In a world where borders blur and possibilities abound, his journey serves as an inspiration to all who dare to dream beyond the confines of convention.


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