You don’t have to be rich to join: Tam Khan on Dubai private club

The Meisters Club has come under backlash for its provocative and flashy branding

Lubna Hamdan 7 Min Read 10 Min Audio

Bikini models, luxury watches, supercars, yachts, private jets, and holidays in the Maldives: it’s a lifestyle fit for the rich – and members of the newest private networking club in Dubai.

The Meisters Club, co-founded by former athlete-turned-entrepreneur Tam Khan, promises networking with the “1% elite” in a relaxed and luxurious environment.

But unlike many private clubs that come with a high-priced membership fee, you need not be rich to join. 

“What do you bring to the table? You can have no financial stability… we’ll cover your cost… You don’t need to be rich [to join] but bring something of substance or a unique skill to the table, or something you feel would bring great synergy with someone else in the club,” Khan tells Lubna Hamdan, host of Frankly’s YouTube show Behind Closed Doors.

“For example, you’ve got experience in journalism… You fit the criteria to meet someone who’s got a financial company… You’ve got that network he can’t even buy. He can put as many adverts as he likes… it doesn’t get you anywhere. 

“He needs people like you who have mingled with people in certain professions. He can’t buy that, but that’s an opportunity for him to sit around the table and say, ‘Lubna, where do you think I should put this? Who do you think I should go to?’” he says.

The club, which is open to both men and women, has received over 4,000 applications since its launch in late October. 

While it came under fire for promoting a provocative and over-the-top lifestyle, particularly through Instagram posts featuring bikini models on jet skis and aboard yachts, Khan says it’s that same marketing strategy that helped attract applicants.

“Of course, personally, being a Muslim, it’s not something I condone… it’s not something I like or find appealing or of good intent. But unfortunately… We needed to get that kind of attraction and that’s what sells, whether I agree with it or not. That’s business, and that’s the model used to get them [customers],” he says.

“As you know, in those first 5 seconds, you’ve got to attract the attention of the audience. To have a man sit there and talk about his successful business, he [a potential customer] is going to skip [the video]. Unless it’s on CNBC or a certain channel, he’s not going to watch it,” Khan says. 

But the co-founder, who is also the owner of TKMMA gym in Dubai, says the club was bound to receive backlash, no matter its marketing strategy.

“If we say it’s a private men’s club, just men, they’ll say you’re sexist. If you say it’s a private elite club for VIPs only, meeting in fancy restaurants, they’ll say you’re discriminating against people who can bring something to the table, but can’t afford it. There’s no way you can actually tick all the boxes and keep everyone happy. 

“As you see on social media, you’ll never see people posting what is true. They’ll post what people want to see: sitting in first class, sipping a glass of champagne. My friend told me the rich people will never take a selfie in a private jet. They’ll just do it. 

“People want to live this lifestyle and that’s what sells. That’s why the Kim Kardashians of this world are famous… People follow them because they want to see and experience what that lifestyle is about. So, we’re catering to the market which will come and is already there,” he says. 

Great minds think on a yacht

Bikini models aside, Khan says a club that offers networking opportunities in relaxed environments is exactly what the market needs.

“You don’t come up with [great] ideas in a boardroom, in a 9 to 5 office, in a library, or in a meeting; these ideas for great businesses and networking all come up in these relaxing environments, whether it’s on a yacht, a boat, a cigar lounge, or in the Maldives – this is where you get the great minds to think,” he says.

“It’s informal. There are no cameras, no boardrooms, no PA [personal assistant] sitting there going, ‘We have to go,’ and making it formal… You’ll see the true character of someone when they’re privately unwinding in a space where they feel comfortable. They’re not being judged on their suit, on the car they bring to the meeting, their shoes, their belt…” he adds. 

While most of its applicants are men, Khan hopes to attract female CEOs and entrepreneurs who may be successful but are introverts when it comes to social networking. 

“That’s why we say, networking doesn’t have to be business – it can social, it can be relaxing, it might be a guy or a girl who’s not so social, maybe an introvert, who’s successful but very introverted; this might be his/her escapism,” he adds.

“As we’ve seen in society, things can be edited or taken out of context. What we’re saying now, someone can take it and say… ‘Oh, this is just about male bigots or it’s about men doing what they do, drink and meet girls.’ Or someone can say, ‘I understand that a man’s worked hard or a woman’s worked hard their whole lives, they want to unwind’.

“It might be a single man who never had time to meet a woman. He might just go there to look at things in a certain way or might want to go on holiday to breakaway with people who can also relate to his lifestyle of sitting behind a desk, making money and not having the chance to live that lifestyle, and it could make his input that much better just from that break,” Khan explains.

The Celebrity Factor 

Yet the club’s most distinguished feature is its celebrity factor, where it brings in UFC stars, internet personalities and prominent businesspeople to network with its members.

“We incorporate celebrities… other clubs like The Arts club or Annabel’s in London, you pay a subscription fee just to go to one spot for dinner… You might have money, you might have been on private jets, you might have been on yachts, but have you ever sat with an Andrew Tate, with a Khabib [Nurmagomedov], or a Mike Tyson or Ramzan Kadyrov, or [royals] from Qatar or Saudi?

“We’re going to bring celebrities from every field so people can say, I’m networking with the 1%, so that’s our little niche USP [feature] that we have that others don’t… You might just want to be a member to sit and have discussions with an Andrew Tate or a Mark Cuban. You might just think, I want to be a member so I can get invited to these [intimate] private dinners or meetings and that alone in itself is priceless,” Khan says.

“I’d love to sit with a Mark Cuban or a Joe Rogan… just to pick their brain and say, ‘How’d you do that? What do you think I should do?’ You can’t buy that. You can Instagram message them for 10 years and they won’t respond, but in these places you’ll be in closed environments, so that in itself is a reason why I’d say people should become a member [of The Meisters Club],” he adds.

The club also claims to give members their money’s worth by including elements like return tickets to the Maldives on private jets through partnerships with aviation company Jetex.

“Try to book a business flight now for the World Cup in Qatar… it’s excruciating prices, because the demand is high. But also for the price and membership, you’ll get return flight to the Maldives on a private jet, a full stay at 5-star complex… A single flight on a private jet now to Europe is about $60,000-70,000. So you’re already getting your money’s worth…” Khan says.

In addition to its offerings, it’s the club’s association with controversial yet popular former athlete-turned-entrepreneur and internet personality Andrew Tate that attracted even more applicants, despite initial backlash and a cancelled speaking event in Dubai.

“We went out with a bit of a bang… by involving ourselves with Andrew Tate in certain events. He’s a personal friend of mine so… I said, let’s host a private event with a select amount of entries to watch him speak – that’s another branch of the club. 

“But for certain reasons, it got cut off, which we can understand. He’s very loved and hated, and people are a bit tentative to have him in society because they’re worried about the backlash. But at the same time, it’s took off. 

“We’ve had over 4,000 interested potential members saying, ‘We’ll pay now if we can sign up,’” says Khan. 

Money (doesn’t always) talk

The club, however, is selective with who it allows to join, no matter their financial status. 

“We don’t want just anyone with money. We don’t want guys who have just made money out of crypto. It just devalues what we’re trying to sell, which is a networking club. A lot of people have made money from crypto and real estate, but that doesn’t mean they will fit the club. 

“I don’t want 100 guys who have got degrees from Oxford. Okay, they’re great academically, but they’re sitting there with nothing to [say] and just sitting there, smiling, taking selfies with a celebrity. I want people who also bring something to the table because that’s what people are paying for…” he says.

Despite its provocative social media campaigns, it seems there may be more to The Meisters Club than bikini models and yachts after all.