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The Unstoppable Arab Emirates

As makeovers go, the UAE can lay claim to the most turbo-charged and transformative one that any country has ever witnessed. At 49, its magnificent strides are most prominently evidenced in its buff infrastructure and storied extravagance. But the shiny veneer is only a light preface to a land that has shaped the lives of its people as well as the substance of their hopes, in indelible ways. Rajashree Balaram looks into the success story that only gets bigger and bolder with time

“I was only 12 when our family moved from Iran to Dubai,” says Sima Kameli, 59, who was formerly top brass at a lofty multinational bank in Dubai. The retired Kameli, who now heads staff operations for a swish salon, speaks animatedly of the UAE, often running her fingers through her deep brown bob. “I have traveled to many countries and enjoyed a variety of experiences, but I would still say that the calibre of service offered in the UAE is unmatched anywhere in the world.”

While that might sound like natural bias towards the place that she has called home for the past 47 years, Kameli’s love for the UAE is not blind. It has fermented in good time, engorged with recollections of ‘the way things were’. The present-day flamboyance of the land has not quite obliterated her memories of its once humbler, rustic edition. Now vacationing in Italy, she gives into wee sentimentality as she speaks of the quiet, sandy nothingness that once marked the country. “It was normal for us to trudge through shin-deep sand on our way to school. Even weddings were held in tents pitched outside people’s homes, and the banquet tables used to dig their weight into supple sand. Only the very affluent could afford to have carpets under those tables. We couldn’t have imagined back then that someday people from all over the world would flock to hotels in the UAE to host some of the most spectacular weddings on earth!” (According to a survey, affluent Indian and Emirati families spend as high as Dh25 million on weddings. Definitely not a figure to sneeze at!)

Everything Out of Nothing

In 1973, when Kameli landed in Dubai with her architect father, the United Arab Emirates was still a freshly stapled concept, fed wholly on unanimity fostered by the grand vision of HH Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It hadn’t quite been two years since December 2, 1971, when the towering visionary had forged the federation of the seven emirates. “There were no cafes, theatre halls, hotels, and hardly any cars. There was not even a single department store, let alone malls. Can you imagine a Dubai like that?” Kameli’s question is purely rhetorical; most anyone would find it difficult to imagine the UAE without its symbols of conspicuous wealth and razzmatazz. (Just a fleeting thought of the Burj Khalifa in your mind’s eye is enough to blot out any possible nostalgia around moderation.)

To everyone living outside of it, the general perception of the UAE tends to be painted in various shades of gold. By now it has become legendary as the fabled land of expats, where everyone goes to settle in and get rich; a tax haven that leaves you with enough surfeit to build a larger home, buy a plusher four-wheeler, max out your credit card at the world’s best shopping malls—basically, build a grand story for yourself that otherwise may have eluded you if you hadn’t moved into this wonderland. Affluence and material comforts have been so widely peddled as the country’s driving themes, that one would imagine success to likely be a cliched soul-less prize. Not really, though, if a report published by the Boston Consulting Group, last year, is anything to go by—it ranked the UAE among the happiest countries in the world, scoring above USA, Canada, Belgium and France against a sizeable line-up of happiness indicators

The general perception of the UAE tends to be painted in various shades of gold. By now it has become legendary as the fabled land of expats, where everyone goes to settle in and get rich

Part Destiny, Part Karma

Of course, happiness may not be an easy achievement when all you have is a bed space to yourself—as so many do, even after having lived in the UAE for a significant length of time. Take Caroline ‘Carie’ Beale, for example. Originally from Bangalore, she moved to Dubai in 2001, to work as a secretary in a construction company that was then steering the Palm Atlantis project. “Growing up, I belonged to a family that had limited means,” she reminisces. “There was never enough money. Within months of moving into Dubai though, I got my husband and kids to move here on my visa. Life changed drastically in a few years. We moved from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom apartment to a villa.” For personal reasons that she is too sore to elaborate on, Carie and her family had to move back to India in 2014. “I didn’t have trouble getting a job in India, but the culture was starkly different to what I had become accustomed to in here. From time management to administration to bureaucracy, nothing felt good enough. I couldn’t wait to get back to Dubai,” she says candidly.

Part of the discontent was also her uneasiness with a less privileged life. In 2018, she packed her bags and returned to the UAE, though a series of personal miseries had eaten into the savings she had set aside. “I admit that I had led life rather recklessly. I had spent money on things I didn’t really need. The UAE makes it easy to be imprudent if you are not mindful. You feel constantly lured by goodies staring at you from every corner—be it gadgets, cosmetics, food, clothes. All those temptations do crazy things to your willpower. You earn a lot but you feel impelled to spend just as much, and stay on top of your social circle.”

In her second innings now, Carie works as a freelance consultant for a recruitment firm, and is shortly expected to join a retail fashion chain. For now, her living quarters have shrunk to a bed space in a women’s dormitory. “In March 2020, I was planning to start a finance liaison firm that was proposed to be an intermediary between investors and projects. Unfortunately, those plans folded up because of COVID.” Carie has no plans to return to India, though, and insists on making it big in Dubai. Her sunny optimism is a fitting complement to a place that abounds with rags-to-riches stories of all kinds. She is fully aware that on bad days when her struggles overwhelm her, she could draw inspiration from the story of philanthropist Ghanshyam Pagarani, founder of the renowned UAE conglomerate, the Yogi Group, who started his journey in Dubai as a janitor in an automobile showroom. Or she could look up to the rise of Dubai-based Syrian real estate tycoon and serial entrepreneur Firas Al Msdaddi, who once sold shoes to put food on the table. When hope wears thin in the UAE, it becomes important to remember the many who challenged their destiny here and lived to tell a grand tale.

Circa 2005
Dubai now

Women on Top

Kameli is a testament to such tenacity—she waited nine years to get her first promotion. “I was a woman in a man’s world. Back in the 80s, the banking industry in the UAE hardly had any women in executive roles.” The spirited Kameli worked for 38 years in the banking industry—starting out as a trainee officer and exiting as the Head of Operations & Control. Along the way, she took on more than a few challenges—from turning bank branches into profit-making centres to training young Emirati women banking officials to take on bigger job responsibilities.

It’s not that patriarchy walks light-footed in the UAE, but for a country that only half a century ago was bristling with fiefdoms and tribal lords, it is not exactly a modest achievement to now have eight women ministers in its cabinet—the highest number in the Arab world. According to stats, women have homed in 66 per cent of the UAE’s labour force and add up to big head count in education, health and banking—exceeding the presence of men. Of course, there have been a series of steady developments in the administrative space that have helped rocket girl power.

In 2015, the UAE launched the National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women that laid down the framework for all federal and local government bodies—the private sector as well as civil society organisations—to chart out exclusive plans and provide decent living standards and jobs for women. Two years later, the UAE Gender Balance Council issued guidelines to help companies draw up a clear blueprint on gender balance practices. Leading this confident march is Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation. The Sheikha has always been resolute in her cause to bankroll and facilitate powerful initiatives that not only empower women in the UAE, but also regionally and internationally. (It’s worth chewing on that as far back as five years ago, Emirati women had already staked out 22,000 businesses in the UAE with investments exceeding AED 45 billion.)

A lion’s share of the applause, though, should be justly reserved for the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who doggedly believed in the untapped potential of women and championed efforts to make equal space for them around decision tables. Despite having no traditional education and moulded entirely by orthodox Bedouin ways, the late Sheikh was a free thinker who backed his simple, inspirational words with far-reaching actions. “It was normal to find him waving back at you from his car, if you greeted him from your car window at a traffic red light,” says Sanjeev Sarin, a 61-year-old Fujairah-based maritime professional. Forty years ago, Sarin’s move to the UAE, was wrought in a near-cinematic mid-sea feat. “I was a Delhi boy, on my way to becoming the captain of an Indian merchant navy ship at that time. I was aboard a vessel passing by the Persian Gulf, when I had an accident and had to be airlifted by a chopper rescue service.” After hospitalisation and recovery, Sarin was in no shape to re-join the navy. Thankfully, he was offered the role of a radio officer by a major shipping and trading group based in Dubai. In 1985, when Sarin moved to Fujairah, he actually got to know what ‘the middle of nowhere’ exactly meant. “There was only one cinema hall, and it was infested with rats and had a squeaky sound system,” he says with a chuckle. “Even the water we received at home used to be brackish. So, we’d drive over to Fujairah airport, with jerricans kept in the boot of our car, and queue up at the two taps behind the airport that provided sweet water.”

Though Sarin loves Delhi, he no longer misses it: “The UAE is my home now. There’s nowhere else, I would rather be.” He is also one of the founding members of the Indian Social Club, which became a popular community platform for the then small diaspora. When the club had newly started, the frequent house parties had helped create a sense of togetherness, which he feels has gone missing with the easy access to posh entertainment centres. “We’d always take the effort to invite Indians who had freshly landed in Fujairah. Each one of us knew that feeling of being ‘a little lost’ when one is new to a foreign land.”

Atlantis at the Palm, Dubai

When hope wears thin in the UAE, it becomes important to remember the many who challenged their destiny here and lived to tell a grand tale

Respect Comes First

According to World Bank estimates, the expat population in the UAE is over 88 per cent, and that includes people from 200 nationalities. Judging by those demographics, the UAE is indeed the melting pot in the truest sense. Also, with the launch of the UAE Centennial 2071, a national strategy to make it the best country in the world in the next 50 years, more people from all around the globe could gravitate here to seed their futures. When they arrive, there will be enough to leave them in deeper awe. “The administrative framework is so clearly drawn, that there is no room for corruption. I really love that about this country,” says Samer Abdu al Jubrail, an operation theatre unit manager at a leading hospital in Al Ain. The 39-year-old, who moved from Syria to Al Ain in 2005, leans towards humour when he sums up the rapid change that he has witnessed in the past few years: “Earlier, one could drive into the parking lot and easily find at least 15 vacant parking spots. Now we end up spending 15 minutes looking for a place to park!” When he moved out of Syria, Jubrail was keen to see a wider world and gain more recognition and respect as a nurse. “Here I have been offered so many opportunities to participate in conferences and seminars to help me upgrade my skills. I have felt constantly encouraged to acquire fresh expertise and advance my career.”

Though, for the past two years, he has been unable to meet his parents who live in strife-torn Syria, he is grateful for video calls. For now, there are many Indians, Pakistanis, Lebanese, Egyptians and people from other nationalities, who are part of Jubrail’s comfort zone. “We get together, we talk, we laugh,” he says. “But no one really knows much or enquires about the other’s personal life. And I wonder if that is always a good thing.”

Dr Sara Al Madani

Known to be the one defying gender and cultural norms, Dr Sara Al Madani ventured into the business world at a time when very few Emirati women dared to do so. And that says a thing or two about the risk-taker and visionary that Dr Al Madani is.

She dons multiple hats and ensures she shines through them all. The serial entrepreneur is an advocate for women, a fashion designer, brand ambassador, and an influential social media personality. 

Dr Al Madani has paved a gem-strewn path for herself across industries and is a well-recognised name across multiple fields including fashion, beauty, entertainment, and more recently, technology. Inspired to start her own business at the tender age of 15, Dr Al Madani’s success as a young entrepreneur and businesswoman has propelled her into the spotlight as an inspiration to both Emirati and expat women. 

In addition to her own Sara Al Madani fashion design company, she’s founded and directed a number of businesses, including Social Fish, a marketing, branding and social media consultancy, and Proposal Cupid, an events company specialising in proposals, engagements and weddings. 

A believer of the importance of being an active member of the community, inspiring the younger generation and continuously sharing knowledge, experience and information, Dr Al Madani is an accomplished speaker having participated in over 200 engagements, including frequent fireside talks at universities, colleges, and institutes. She aims to inspire women in the UAE to be more active and self confident in order to achieve success. A pioneer in tech, she is also known to create immersive content for businesses. 

With a long list of awards and achievements including illustrious titles like the Entrepreneur of the Year, GCC Inspiring Women Leaders and Ecosystem Influencer of the Year awards, the fiercely determined and passionate Dr Al Madani has been setting new standards and continues to champion women, in the UAE and beyond.

As CEO of multiple and varied companies, how does the changing face of UAE make you feel?

It makes me proud that I belong to a country that has a vision, and that my aspirations and defined objectives are safe. This country is a believer, an upholder, and offers the support system and everything that I need to grow as a visionary and leader.

What advancements do you wish to see in the next few years?

What I would love to see are more women in different sectors that are predominantly regarded as male territory, and more women on board seats within finance, in both public and private sectors. I want to see the UAE grow towards the vision it’s building and leave an imprint around the world. When our country does that, we are all part of that movement.

Can you define the significance of women entrepreneurs as contributors to the UAE economy?

Women in the past five to six years have been making great strides. Come to think of it, 70% of university graduates are women and 80% of graduates with the highest grades are women. Imagine all that force was sleeping within the economy, and now imagine that force being active in the economy! The difference is huge, and there is not an iota of doubt that women have had a hand in where the country stands today.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your greatest learning?

DON’T SETTLE. We live only once, so never settle. Learn from your mistakes, and do mistakes because that is how one learns. But, never settle. You have one shot at this life; don’t let it go waste by settling 

What is the one skill that you want to learn now that it is absolutely essential to adapt to the ‘new normal’?

The one skill I want to learn is to live my life on Zoom! I love meeting people. During the pandemic that hasn’t been so easy anymore, and even if we do there are so many precautions that we need to keep in mind. So, we have to learn and adapt to this new lifestyle; I don’t think we will ever return to our earlier life. Corona has changed it all.

How do you celebrate the National Day?

I celebrate it with my family and friends, doing the whole traditional thing.

On the occasion of the 49th National Day, what is your special message to your country men and women, and to all the fellow residents who have made Dubai their home?

The UAE is the land of dreams. So, for everyone living here—expats, locals, male, female, whoever and whatever you are—remember, this is your home and this is where your dreams are going to come true. This is where you can be what you want to be. This is where tolerance and love take place, and vision takes shape. So, you made the right choice by making the UAE your home.

Chef Musabbeh Al Kaabi

The first Emirati chef ever, Musabbeh Al Kaabi is the captain of the UAE culinary team. He was also the winner at the Dubai World Hospitality Championship Gold Award in 2014 (second season) that saw participation from 12 Arab countries. 

Musabbeh entered the culinary scene around 18 years ago after having served in the UAE military for seven years. Kaabi had always loved cooking (mostly inspired by his mother) and thoroughly enjoyed the time he spent in his kitchen. When he turned chef, it was not common for Emiratis to work in the kitchen. That did not deter him, and he continued pursuing his passion and after multiple interviews, proudly joined the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in 2006.

Since his foray into the field, he has participated in many culinary programs and frequently upgraded his skills from the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management and throughout his career with the Jumeirah Group.

A distinguished member with the Emirates Culinary Guild, Chef Musabbeh has received one gold medal, two silvers and one bronze from the Guild for his exemplary work. Besides, he has also been selected as a juror for many culinary competitions such as Gulf Food-Dubai, DE Sial-Abu Dhabi, and East Coast Culinaire-Fujairah, amongst many others.

Chef Musabbeh is also well known for his Ramadan cooking shows on Kuwaiti TV channel Al Rai TV and Sharjah TV. He continues to present various TV food shows and cooking demonstrations across the region, including the UAE culinary programmes to audiences in the USA, on behalf of the Jumeirah Group, where he is now the Executive Oriental Chef at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray.

The changing face of the UAE in the culinary field—how does that make you feel?

I am incredibly proud of all the famous chefs, who have contributed to promoting Emirati cuisine not only in the region but to the world at large. Being part of the Dubai culinary scene for many years now has been an absolute honor and privilege. 

What changes do you wish to see in the next few years?

I wish to see Emirati cuisine being promoted and celebrated in all parts of the world—even more than what it is today.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your most significant learning?

The past few months have taught me that it’s important to always innovate and look ahead in life. We must keep looking for opportunities around us, and utilize our talents to enhance the experience for our guests. 

A hotel kitchen is all about expert skills and the right attitude. How can one apply this to daily life?

The trade teaches you to plan and organize everything ahead of time, and also to keep your calm and stay focused as things can become challenging at times. These skills are quintessential for staying ahead in life too.

What has been your greatest reward as an Emirati chef? 

I’ve been extremely fortunate to witness the evolution of Emirati cuisine and take in its successful progression over the past 20 years. This in itself is a great reward.

How do you celebrate National Day? 
Every year, at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, we put on a grand show for all the UAE nationals & residents as we celebrate this auspicious occasion, with live cultural performances, live cooking stations and exclusive offers with up to 49% savings, where we together celebrate the spirit of the nation.

On the occasion of the 49th National Day, what is your special message to your countrymen and women, and to all the fellow residents who have made Dubai their home?
I want to invite all my fellow residents and nationals to observe and celebrate this milestone with their loved ones. We live in the best country in the world, and we are fortunate enough to have the best hospitality experiences that this world has to offer.

Mona AlHebsi

An award-winning Emirati leader, accomplished hotelier, seasoned HR professional, author and success coach, Mona AlHebsi is a recognized name in the UAE hospitality industry. 

She began her professional stint in 2005 with the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel—a defiant step for an Emirati woman, given the perceived societal reservations about the industry. The experience opened her up to a world of glamour, endless discoveries, and extraordinary challenges, which made her a reckoning force in the MENA region and an inspiring success story to many of her peers.

Despite achieving incredible results, there came a point in her life where she felt an emptiness inside. Observing a similar pattern with many of her friends and colleagues, she began looking for ways that would make her work more rewarding personally and impactful for her community too.

The answer came at a reflective moment when she realized that her happiest and most fulfilling moments were when she decided to be more courageous and take total responsibility for the results she achieved and the decisions she made. It also led her to realize that the more formidable the decisions she took, the more rewarding were the outcomes. The effect on others was more profound too. Mona had found her mantra in life—the more odds you beat, the greater will be your feat!

Beat The Odds is her enlightening and inspiring guide where she shares her tried and tested secrets to achieving personal and professional excellence in the face of the most daunting conditions.

With several internationally accredited qualifications, Mona has spoken on different forums and has appeared on many media channels. She strongly believes that there is much more she is meant to achieve and, therefore, continually looks for fresh ways to expand her horizons. With the right tools and guiding principles that enabled her to turn the table around and change her reality, she hopes she can help others beat the odds.

The changing face of the hospitality industry over the past years—how does that make you feel?

The change has come with a profound message for all the professionals in this field: change, or you will be changed. It now depends on the individual’s mindset and propensity to transform and be more open to trying new ways to delight colleagues and customers. We need to start appreciating the new opportunities that come our way, and reignite our creative and human side of running the hospitality business. Only then will we be able to stay sustainable in the face of challenges.

What changes do you wish to see in the coming years?

I would like to see more people think innovatively and reconnect with their human element to provide more authentic service to all stakeholders. I realized very early in my life that we can connect with others no matter how diverse we are, if we talk more about our similarities rather than our differences. Others become willing to listen and buy in, and the result is a win-win outcome for all. 

I’d like to see a balanced approach in the hospitality industry between people and profit. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners don’t know how to balance these and mostly focus on short-term gains, which harms their businesses and reputation in the long run. They tend to forget that ‘people’ are the essence of any business, and without them there is no business. 

Finally, I’d like to see more Emiratis as movers and shakers of the industry. We will not get very far if we hire locals for entry-level positions and then keep them there without both tangible and intangible perks and proper development plans for them to grow and succeed. We need to run campaigns about the existing Emiratis in the industry and the opportunities available for their peers.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your most significant learning?

The past few months have taught me to know my priorities in life, and have the courage to make the right choices at the right time. It is always important to re-evaluate your current situation and ask yourself whether it’s relevant to your current needs and aspirations or not. It’s all about being adaptable but not losing sight of the bigger picture and staying hopeful that tomorrow will be better for those who have the right intentions and continue doing the right things in all circumstances.

What is the one skill that you want to learn now that it’s essential to adapt to the ‘new normal’?

I would like to have more patience, be more relaxed and peaceful about the things I can’t change because a lot of things in life will ease up/happen with a matter of time.

What has been your greatest reward as a hotelier?

The ability to experience so many different stimuli in the form of new opportunities, experiences, people, places and feelings. The life of a hotelier is one of its kind, and you never know what’s going to happen in the next minute in your day or who are you going to meet or where you will be in a matter of a few hours. It’s a lot of glamour and excitement, and this lifestyle is very appealing and addictive to those who have already tried it.

How do you celebrate National Day? 

I love to showcase the Emirati culture in the form of a big celebration if I’m at work. When at home, all family members gather and spend quality time watching nationwide celebrations on TV, inflating UAE colours balloons and decorating the home. We also enjoy the delicious traditional food like harees, thareed and lugaimat cooked by my lovely mother.

On the occasion of the 49th National Day, what is your special message to your countrymen and women, and to all the fellow residents who have made Dubai their home?

Let’s come together to create a better tomorrow. We can do that by extending respect and affection towards each other, by realizing that we are all unique and yet connected somehow as part of one great entity. Let’s stay true to ourselves but also respect and celebrate each other’s uniqueness, special gifts and contributions. Let’s continue to build this beautiful land of UAE that we all love and admire.

Brigadier Dr Ali Mohammed Hussain Singel

Serving as the Brigadier and General Health Advisor at the Dubai Police Health Centre, Dr Singel is known for his noteworthy contribution and has been highly awarded in recognition of his efforts in the police force. 

Brigadier Dr Ali Mohammed Hussain Singel completed his Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Dermatology from the University of Wales, and then went on to graduate as an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) from the University of Wales, U.K. A Harvard Fellow, he is registered at the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Upon his return, he joined the Dubai Police Health Centre as consultant dermatologist in March 2003. He soon took over as Director of the Centre, a role that he successfully managed for 13 years.

During this tenure, he oversaw the Health Centre that provides medical service to police employees, family members of the employees and detainees, and the several clinics within its premises. His contribution fetched him the title of the Best Departmental Director in 2010. 

In his current role as General Health Advisor – Dubai Police, Dr Singel has been part of many medical panels in the UAE that determine and formulate the National Health Care Policy. He is regularly involved in organizing various medical conferences, seminars, workshops for primary and secondary healthcare. He has also been actively involved in managing effectively the COVID crisis that swept the country and helping the Emirate spring swiftly back into action.

Donning multiple hats, besides that of a consultant dermatologist and a laser skin specialist, Dr Singel is a television presenter too. From 2005 to 2013, he hosted a medical show ‘VITAMINS’, on Dubai Television. Several other shows came by, and so far, he has collectively presented over 500 episodes over a span of 15 years. One of his proudest moments was in 2009, when he was honoured by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai for Outstanding Performance. He was also awarded by Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, for being an Outstanding Officer and for General Performance. He has also been recognised for his active participation in highlighting children’s right and their protection and awarded by UNICEF in July 2010.

The changing face of UAE over the years—how does that make you feel?

I feel thrilled about my country’s astounding achievements over the years. It evokes in me a sense of loyalty and pride that we belong to this land that is our home.

What advancements do you wish to see in the coming future?

Our government is doing very well in keeping up and adapting to global changes. Lately, we saw how scrupulously they coped with the pandemic by introducing all updated technologies in different fields in a very systemized way. The UAE, no doubt, is an advanced country; my wish is to see it lead the way in various areas such as economy, science, sports, etc.

Healthcare, media, law and order—what’s unique about these spheres in the UAE?

The UAE is a relatively safe country with a well-established law and order in place. We are quite advanced in terms of healthcare and available facilities. Our media is flexible and varied to suit all cultures and people living here.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your most significant learning? 

The past few months have brought a sense of appreciation for what I have and where I live. It has taught us that living together is meaningful, and one must learn from the past to build a better future. It has made us aware of the importance of dealing with the now, the present moment.

What is the one skill that you want to learn, now that it’s essential to adapt to the ‘new normal’?

Learn more about virtual life and the virtual way of working. It is absolutely essential now—either you upgrade or you miss out. 

How do you celebrate National Day? 

We remember our founding fathers Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashed and their momentous decision to unite the different Emirates as one. Our families and friends gather and cook traditional food to express our joy.

On the occasion of the 49th National Day, what is your special message to your countrymen & women, and to all the fellow residents who have made Dubai their home?

This land is a gift from God. Let’s continue building it up and keeping it safe, with good intentions. Let’s always stick together as one big, happy family.

Sharihan Al Mashary

Sharihan has been a seasoned hotelier for over 13 years (Culinary, F&B Operations, Commercial, Revenue & Finance), and holds the distinction of being the first female Emirati General Manager the UAE has seen. 

Beginning her career at the 7-star Burj Al Arab and the Madinat Jumeirah, she grew through the ranks with the pre-opening of two luxury properties—Palazzo Versace Dubai and Address Boulevard. Being a top performer with top-notch merits to her belt, she was appointed as General Manager at the Emaar Hospitality Group. In her role as a GM, she retained a strong focus on quality and guest satisfaction. She also initiated new commercial and market segment strategy; developed a tactical culinary/F&B direction; and built teams of potent calibres within their roles for an effective and efficient lean operation. 

Her unbeaten and consistent track record of operational strength, performance excellence, financial & commercial acumen, and people development got her promoted yet again—this time as Cluster General Manager for Manzil Downtown and Vida Downtown in 2020. 

During her tenure, Sharihan has won several awards as ‘Best General Manager for the UAE and the Continent’, along with several awards for the hotel and its food & beverage outlets. She has played an instrumental role in developing Emirati nationals in hospitality, gender and pay equality initiatives, and her training and support for the UAE National Youth in EmiratesSkills (ACTVET) and WorldSkills International, which has also won her ‘The Young Arab Leader Award for Hospitality Impact’.

Sharihan has represented the UAE and her country as the appointed young leader for UAE for the Asia Society for ‘Asia 21 Young Leaders Class 2019-2020’, where each year the young visionary leaders meet and take on some of the toughest and most meaningful challenges in the world. They collaboratively re-imagine and re-shape the relationship between Asia and the rest of the world. One of her more recent wins has been the Emirates Woman Achiever Award.

She also presents in the Sustainable Development Solutions Youth Network (SDSN Youth), an initiative by the United Nations to empower youth globally to create sustainable development solutions. She was also felicitated with The David Rockerfeller Bridging Leadership Award for her commitment towards the Goal 8 and 8.7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as one of the founding members of Global Sustainability Network (GSN).

Sharihan remains deeply committed to train the UAE national team in Hospitality for WorldSkills and EmiratesSkills competitions. It’s a role in which she provides vocational and technical education to help participants excel.  

Young Arab leaders taking charge of new initiatives and their implementation—how has it made a difference to the UAE as a nation? 

Being awarded with the honour of ‘Young Arab Leader Award for Hospitality Impact’ was a tremendous achievement, one I didn’t expect. I’ve dedicated my life to my country and my industry. As a leader, young—or young at heart—learning never stops nor does the responsibility of positively impacting people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership (of course in a business world, profits are vital; yet building a sustainable eco-system is a tool towards a successful, prosperous model). My late father always believed that no matter what field or career my siblings and I pursued, it must serve a purpose for humanity and one’s community. He believed that it is very important to always be a selfless, fair and responsible leader. I am deeply interested in the future of the UAE youth and, as a hotelier, in the career path of the next generation that enters the hospitality industry. 

What changes do you wish to see in the next few years?

An accelerated hospitality plan to impact the 2030 Agenda, especially in economic growth, education and employment for the UAE’s national youth. We are one of the most connected nations, geographically and also holistically. Being a young change-maker and leading expert, I’ve actively advocated discussions that fortify collaborative global movements in sustainable development and to further its implementation on a national, regional, and international scales.

What has been your greatest reward as a hotelier?

The ability to influence positive change in an old system; shift and modernise the ‘traditional management style’ to make it more agile, empathetic and pragmatic; advocate for ethics and values and the SDGs; write and develop youth programmes and national traineeships in hospitality; focus and advocate for equal-gender opportunity and pay; support and train the UAE national team for EmiratesSkills and WorldSkills international competitions; mentor and advocate for hospitality education and future career paths.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your most significant learning?

Life has changed for everyone this year; for some, it has changed significantly, and for others, it has been more a change of perspectives. I dare say that this year was not a learning class; instead, a school of thoughts that’s been learnt. To some, the pandemic has been a theory, but the majority of industries experienced turbulence that impacted people, planet and prosperity. World leaders and industry leaders gathered to work together for a shared global goal. Never before in a time of complete social and physical disconnection, have we been ever so connected as countries and sectors. It is the power of partnerships and intergenerational relationships to become all-inclusive and creative, and to protect and thrive in an eco-system. 

What is the one skill that you want to learn now that it’s essential to adapt to the ‘new normal’?

The ‘new normal’ has been only waiting for the right time to emerge; it is inevitable. I am picking up Machine Learning and embracing a deeper appreciation for technology and the digital spectrum. I’ve always believed that in being a specialist, one must acquire the talent and skills of being a generalist, and we see exactly that happening in many industries. The more we diversify our skills, experiences and talents, the more we can contribute. This has been one of my successes as a young strong hotelier. 

How do you celebrate National Day? 

We celebrate our beloved country’s national day through a celebration of our heritage, which includes enjoying the traditional clothing, food and music; getting together with family and friends, neighbours and community; decorating our homes and cars with the UAE flag and showing our respect to our country’s leaders and founding father. This year, we celebrate 49 years of unity, spirit, resilience, hope, prosperity and deeply rooted traditions and legacy. There is no country in the world like the United Arab Emirates. It’s very special. We are a patriotic nation with insatiable dedication. 

On the occasion of the 49th National Day, what is your special message to your countrymen and women, and to all the fellow residents who have made Dubai their home

This is the only country, where across all the seven emirates, residents, tourists and citizens feel as one. Everyone who went to school here proudly sings the UAE national anthem; it is our home and theirs. So, to all Emiratis and to everyone who lives, visits, resides and identifies with the UAE as their home, a Happy UAE National Day! I am blessed and proud to be an Emirati. There is no sand as precious as the sands of my land.

Dr. Eng. Mohamed Ibrahim Al Ali

With a burning desire to be a useful resource to his country, Dr Eng. Mohamed Ibrahim Al Ali felt guided to choose a purposeful educational journey and a career path beginning as early as age 15, when he joined Etisalat Training School alongside pursuing BTEC in Software Engineering.

On completing his course from the Etisalat Training School, he was selected for the Planning Department of Etisalat and continued to be resourceful in the department with client database requirement added to his job portfolio. Growing his career within the company for 21 long, fruitful years he managed the infrastructural network of Northern Emirates, also applying his skills as a cartographer for base maps and Etisalat Underground Infrastructure Network. The experience was a remarkable learning for him into the Geographic Information System (GIS) in localizing the framework network points throughout the country.

These years also saw Dr Eng. Mohamed Ibrahim Al Ali pursue his Bachelors’ and Masters’ in Business Administration from the Skyline University College, Sharjah, following which he took up a key position with the Dubai government. During this tenure, he gained a PhD in Knowledge Transfer to help develop human capital for the country.

Deeply passionate about learning and exploring new avenues of education, his lifelong foresight has manifested itself as the Smart Inspiration UAE Training Centre that was opened in November 2019.

The changing face of the UAE over the years—how has it shaped you?

Having excellent leadership, along with gracious welfare for the citizens of the United Arab Emirates, we feel very blessed to be born here. The country’s leaders as directed by the vision of the founding father of the UAE, late HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, have worked on governance, which takes care of funding homes, education and even marriages for the UAE nationals. 

Our people, both men and women, have learned to study and make the nation proud through their innovative and progressive thinking. Our leaders are building a nation that offers the best to its people even as it remains globally conscious.

What advancements do you wish to see in the coming years?

I would like people to know that they are born for a purpose, and it is important to live that purpose with zeal.

Secondly, education is our mainstay now. Also, there are growing employment opportunities for both women and men, thus paving the way for happier homes, peaceful societies and communities. I would like to see more inroads into the reach of education and utilization of new knowledge towards sustainable living.

‘Knowledge Transfer of Human Capital’—what does it imply and what is its significance for the nation and its people?

Knowledge is a treasure; it’s a combination of experience and attitude. I am continually endeavouring to spread knowledge as widely as possible—not contracted into different versions, but new knowledge. Mashallah, we have lots of innovations around the world and in the UAE itself. Every person must have access to knowledge without any barriers. 

New knowledge is what I seek daily. I am exploring more about innate intelligence, the analysis of genetic behaviour and how rewiring of the brain with thought management can change a person, despite his genetic influence. I love to discover and learn more on neuroscience, so that I can impart the knowledge to communities and people around me.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your most significant learning?

I have noticed a new thirst for self-development among all people—a realization everyone has become sensitive to during COVID-19. I too have embarked on acquiring intuitive and creative sensibilities with innate intelligence at SMART INSPIRATION UAE TRAINING, which is my dream learning centre. I have also noticed that enrollment at the centre has grown during the past few months.

What is the one skill that you want to learn now that it’s essential to adapt to the ‘new normal’?

I am very attracted to learning brain science, and I shall soon embark on this study.

How do you celebrate National Day? 

This year celebration of UAE National Day is very different as we are focusing on staying healthy first due to COVID-19. Nevertheless, it is a great time to introspect on the leadership’s goodness towards its people. I respect the them for building a safe and secure community.

On the occasion of the 49th National Day, what is your special message to your countrymen and women, and to all the fellow residents who have made UAE their home?

I want to advise citizens and residents to be conscious of our leaders who are taking care of the nation with much care. I’d say, trust the leaders with their decisions.

Maya AlHawary

Maya Alhawary is known to be the first ever Emirati woman to become a principal of a school in the MENA Region. She recalls that the great opportunity came when His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak asked for a female principal to run his school, which was also one of the first schools belonging to the Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai. This new school features a blended learning environment, the first of its kind in the UAE. 

Alhawary managed it for two years, following which in 2012 she was appointed as principal and acting director of Dubai Women’s College High School. In a decade, she has come a long way; from being a vice-principal at the Dubai Carmel School, she is now chairperson of the Board. 

An accomplished Tedx speaker, she is also the first PhD scholar in the UAE to research on emotional intelligence (EI) and its effects on leadership. Her own battle with depression led her to delve deeper into EI. She was also named Knowledge Ambassador to the UAE Red Crescent in 2017, where she was a volunteer lecturer. Besides being the Director of Planning, she is also a consultant on education and operations (something that she dabbles into part-time). Her passion, though, lies in the training arena, especially in soft skills like positivity, happiness, tolerance, emotional intelligence and communication.

In 2019, Alhawary’s social media page was counted among the 50 influential. She has authored a book “أسرار التجديد في زمن الكوفيد” (Renewal Secrets In The Time of COVID), which was showcased at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2020. She has trained several government employees around the Emirates in the past two years, and was also appointed Tolerance Knight under HH Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Humeid AlNuaimi in 2019. 

Her contribution in the education and community service space has fetched her coveted titles like the Life Achievement Award by HH Sheikh Ahmad bin Faisal AlQassimi in October 2020 and 2020 Ambassador of Community Service in MENA. 

The changing face of the UAE over the years—how has it shaped you?

The United Arab Emirates provides such an excellent platform for individuals to grow. Women, especially, have a voice here—we aren’t put down. We are given the opportunity to access education and to thrive in every field.

We are encouraged to be innovative and creative, and to follow the footsteps and the path of our leaders and their successors.

As the UAE progressed, my field became more relevant—especially with COVID when mental health issues, emotional intelligence, self-awareness and social awareness have turned so crucial. I’ve noticed that people want genuine people to speak up and tell their stories, and that has pushed me to thrive even more and not shy away.

What advancements do you wish to see in the coming years?

In alignment to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Rashed Al Maktoum’s vision for the next 50 years, emotional intelligence needs to be focused on in every corner that we can think of. People have also realized that the healthier your mental health,
the more you can give towards your family, your profession and your country.

I wish to see high-level leaders of the government and staff members of all private and public sectors to gain more awareness and learn how to apply emotional intelligence. It needs to be used as a key performance indicator to see how effective people are in their work.

As a recipient of the Life Achievement Award, which part of your journey has been the closest to your heart, and why?

Every part of my journey is precious, and each came out of a struggle—even my book. Being documented worldwide is an accomplishment, something that I’m really proud of.

Long back, I was shot down for going against the ‘norms’ of the family. All I was doing was putting forward my ideas that I knew will help others as it helped me create a purpose in life. It cost me dearly, because not a lot of people can understand a woman’s passion and desire to thrive. Being a strong woman doesn’t mean you are rude, or that you will overtake and override. Women have equal rights as men to raise their voices. Every talk I gave, everyone I spoke to, or gave advice to or consulted with has been a beautiful part of this journey.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your most significant learning?

My first learning is that nothing is handed to you. You alone are responsible for pulling yourself out of the gutter. If you have depression, you have to resolve it; if you have anxiety, you have to deal with it; if you do not have enough money, you have to find a way to earn it. Nobody is going to help you, because honestly everybody is engulfed by their own problems.

The other lesson is that you can’t be selfish. Even if you are stuck in your hole, you should offer a helping hand to those who need it. That’s what spirituality as well as emotional intelligence is all about.

My third lesson is that you get what you give. I love energy, I love the Universe and Allah. Different religions have different names for this superpower, and we have to believe in it because that’s our hope in this world.

What is the one skill that you want to learn now that it’s essential to adapt to the ‘new normal’?

One needs to learn to adapt to change. Adapting is the new norm now. It’s going to let loose from here in terms of technology, innovation, creativity, professions, change in mindsets, etc. Inevitably, things are not going to be the same anymore.

How do you celebrate National Day? 

I love celebrating the national day with my family and country. As thinkers, activists, and influencers, we want to show the spirit of the union through our work and our lives. When you devote your life to the people and open up to them, you show them ways to adapt to the new norms. When you are a role model, that is the spirit you need to offer. If you are true to who you are, your values and your country, the truth will come right back at you. And with truth comes happiness.

On the occasion of the 49th National Day, what is your special message to your countrymen and women, and to all the fellow residents who have made the UAE their home?

Love one another; love is the glue that will keep you intact. Opinions and experiences may differ, circumstances and people change, but when there is love, it changes the whole dynamic. 

Children are the seeds of every nation, but adults are the water and the sun and the soil. So please be aware of what you do, what you say, how you say it and how you love them. Their mental health depends on your mental health. Only if you are aware of your emotions and sought self-control, will you feel motivated to go to work every day and feel encouraged through life. When you have that awareness towards society, it is only then that you’ll be able to live a peaceful life. Even the turmoil that you pass through will help you understand that things don’t happen to you, they happen through you.

Adel Al Awadhi

Founder and Executive Chairman of The Corporate Group (TCG), Adel Al Awadhi is a towering man with over 20 years of business development expertise spanning different sectors such as infrastructure, energy, transport, health, training and education, BPO, ICT, aviation, and facilities management. Extremely adept at bidding, acquisitions, JVs & partnerships and strategies, developing national human capital and business growth, his role requires him to manage and advise all the subsidiaries under TCG as well as develop businesses across the MENA region.   

A graduate of marketing and international business from the Colorado State University, USA, and an MBA in International Business from the American University, Dubai, he has also completed the Mohammed Bin Rashid Leadership Program, besides an Executive Development Program from the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Switzerland. 

Adel has worked as a marketing manager for JAFZA attracting foreign investments across different sectors and regions, playing a significant role in the new JAFZA and its subsidiaries’ branding and communication, internally and externally. He has also worked with Serco, a British-listed Company, as marketing and communication director, leading the team on strategy, communication, and execution. He has also guided RTA in branding and launching the Dubai Metro, and managed marketing and communication for the public transport under RTA.

Functioning closely with governments in nationalization programs for developing the human capital of UAE and Saudi nationals in the transportation sector, his notable contribution in the arena of public transport in the GCC region include bidding and tendering for Dubai Metro, Dubai Tram, public transport consultancy, marine, cycling, Saudi Railway, Qatar Rail, Jeddah Metro, Makka Metro, Bahrain public transport, besides a few other transport-related opportunities.  

He presently holds prominent positions within these organizational bodies:

• Executive committee member for British Business Group (BBG) as Government Relations Director

• President of GCC alumni for IMD Business School 

• Board member of Smart Life Foundation, a voluntary non-profit organization helping blue-collared workers

• Non-executive board member for Back to Business UK, bringing together the international business community to promote trade and investment

In 2015, Adel re-branded The Corporate Group and its subsidiaries and introduced the Superbrands Award. TCG is now a member of Dubai SME and strategic partner with Dubai FDI and DED in attracting foreign investment and advising companies for market entry globally.

The changing face of the UAE—how does that make you feel?

The UAE has a vision to change from a country reliant on oil economy to service, technology, and trading. Being connected to a world population of one billion with just three hours of flying time and with more than two billion with a 5-hour flight connectivity makes it all so much easier. I am proud to be an Emirati under the leadership of our government, thriving to be number one and continuing to put the name of the UAE on the global map to be recognized as a safe, secure, transparent, and happy place to live in.  

We are a new country ready to take on bigger visions and newer challenges. We want to share our success stories with the world, and learn more and more from others.

What changes do you wish to see in the next few years?

I look forward to seeing a stronger UAE identity internationally. We have learned from our leaders to always represent the UAE as a brand (we are all Zayed sons). We are looking forward to changes that bring knowledge and enrich our expertise, focusing on renewable energy, sustainability, innovation, technology, well-being, and advancement in healthcare, education, and science to build a world-class smart city.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your most significant learning?

First, I thank Allah (God) every day for blessing us with health, security, and many other things that we do not appreciate on a daily basis. As time passes and an incident occurs, we as humans start reflecting upon it.  The government programs and the community were incredibly supportive in dealing with the pandemic. We have learned that we can do business in other markets, make things more efficient, and still enjoy life with limited resources and movements. We know that we can always do better with planning and managing our time in a better way (working, well-being, family time, business, socializing, and many more).  

What is the one skill that you want to learn now that is essential to adapt to the ‘new normal’?

Transformation and digitalization processes make work more efficient, cost-effective, reachable, and reduce errors. This is what we need to upgrade ourselves with.

The Corporate Group and its subsidiaries have been doing great work for the past 11+ years. What has been its contribution to the nation?

We are an SME company; the founders and shareholders have an obligation and are keen to give back our experience and knowledge to the community and the country. We, therefore, have a strong belief in corporate social responsibility, and are proud to receive CSR awards from bodies like Dubai Chamber for the past three years and being on the top in the list of 100 best SMEs in Dubai for the past four years.

The group has offered several internship opportunities and recruited more than 80 students for training in corporate environments. We mentor and coach entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs, and have recently launched webinars on knowledge-sharing programs for UAE locals, residents, and international corporates. 

How do you celebrate the National Day? Is there anything special that you do?

2020 will be a special year, now that we are compelled to celebrate in a different way. Nevertheless, we are excited to be around our families, relatives, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and business partners. We will celebrate not only with Emiratis but also with all residents of the UAE and our friends/partners globally. We are the only country in the world with more than 200 nationalities and representing many religions. 

On the 49th National Day occasion, what is your special message to your countrymen and women, and all the fellow residents who have made Dubai their home?

We are proud of what our leaders have planted and built over the past four decades for us UAE citizens and the residents of more than 200 nationalities living here. As the founder of the Emirates, HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, said, “This land is for everyone. People are most welcome to live and work here.”  

We are grateful to our leaders for their vision to make this country known on the global world map as a peaceful, safe, and tolerant country. We need to thrive and work on the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, to make this country a world leader in different sectors and areas. We have a challenging journey ahead to reach and maintain this status.

We look forward to celebrating the 50th golden jubilee next year for the UAE, and to see the world in better shape and an exciting one after the global pandemic of 2020. We have learned many things that made us challenge ourselves to see a different future. We are ready for the change. May Allah bless us all.

Amna Al Qubaisi

Racing her way to victory, Al Qubaisi has been competing in motor-sport, a male-dominated arena, since the age of 13 and has proved her mettle, time and again. 

The 20-year-old Sorbonne University student took on karting nationally and then moved internationally, competing in world championships over three times. Her last F4 Race in November 2019 was the latest milestone in her burgeoning motor-racing career wherein she became the first Emirati female driver to win in F4. 

Another highpoint of Al Qubaisi’s career was at Euro X30 in Wackersdorf, Germany, when she managed to secure the 5th position against 50 drivers. The young icon of Arab motor-sport began her F4 debut with Prema Power Team in 2018 at the F4 Italian Championship with a 12th position top finish. 

Her main sponsors are Kaspersky Lab, Abu Dhabi Racing, Renoir Consulting, and Omeir Travel Agency. To be sure, she is no stranger to breaking new grounds in motor-sports. Al Qubaisi, who has kept the country’s flag flying high as she powered her way to victory in F4UAE’s first race in the Trophy Round, has now set sight on her F3 debut with new sponsors onboard, even as she currently focuses on her studies. 

How has the UAE supported and shaped you to follow your racing dreams?

My country and the people of my country have shown me immense love and support, even though racing has always been considered a male-dominated career. Many locals have been commenting on my posts, sharing them, and writing to me. The UAE has empowered many women in many different sectors—not just in sports—and I am grateful for the liberal-mindedness that our leaders have shown. 

Do you see the significance accorded to sportswomen as a representation to the changing face of the UAE? 

Sports has always been a field that not many Emirati women—or men for that matter—have ventured in. It will be great to see us bag some laurels in this arena. I am happy that I am among the first ones leading this space.

Could you elaborate on the progressive changes you wish to see in the coming years?

I would like to see more locals playing and participating in all kinds of sports, not just a chosen few. When we can do well in other fields and make a name for ourselves worldwide, we can certainly do well in sports too.

How do you celebrate National Day? 

I spend National Day with my family. In my university days, my friends and I would paint the UAE flag on our cheeks, apply henna, and wear our traditional clothing. We would also return to traditional practices such as riding camels, sewing, and making traditional foods.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your most significant learning?

Not being a calm person, earlier I used to get impatient with everything that I had to deal with. Through these tough times, I have had the chance to focus on myself and learn the virtue of being patient.

What is the one skill that you want to learn now that is essential to adapt to the ‘new normal’?

There’s so much to learn… so much that I haven’t even thought about. However, so far, I’ve been doing pretty well with things and I’m happy with myself.

What would be your special message to the youth of the UAE?

My special message to the youth of the UAE and the world would be to persist and not give up. I know it sounds cliched, but it’s a necessity. There have been a few times when I’ve come close to almost giving up, but if I had then I wouldn’t be where I am today. So always persist to the pinnacle of your goals and don’t stop there; keep on going, make some new goals, and keep challenging yourself.

Yousif Al Sahlawi

Yousif Hussain Al Sahlawi, the founder of Al Sahlawi & Co Advocates & Consultants (established in 1997), avoids the spotlight and would rather have his work take centrestage. As a passionate advocate, Al Sahlawi has tailored the organization and its services in ways that align with the needs of his clients; his main goal is to exceed expectations always. 

He was the former public prosecutor for the Ministry of Justice from 1988 to 1997. Thereafter, he was Executive Director of Dubai Customs for a decade. The experience helped him to pioneer and specialize in custom procedures and technical affairs relating to import, export, re-export, transit, customs warehouses, free zones and other customs formalities and requirements, and resolve all legal issues arising in these areas.

An avid football fan, he has also been part of the UAE football team, and currently heads the Federation of UAE Football Association. His organization being around since the beginning of the professional sports era in the UAE, a special division of sports litigators from his team have assisted and debated in the drawing up of the rules and legislations that govern professional sports in the country, and have contributed majorly in drafting the constitution of the UAE Football Association.

As an active member of PRAE LEGAL, a global network of international prestigious law firms widespread throughout the world, the organization led by Al Sahlawi has developed a successful global network of expertise to meet the demands of modern commerce. Commercial awareness and strong business acumen are key strengths of his team of legal experts. 

With over two decades of litigation experience, AL SAHLAWI & CO can provide focused, efficient, and an appropriate legal solution to a range of litigation cases in the most cost-effective way. His company’s performance and work ethics are soundly based on the potent combination of local expertise, coupled with international standards and ethics in supporting institutions achieve their business goals and aspirations.

The changing face of the UAE over the years—how does that make you feel?

The UAE, with the presence of a young and wise leadership, was able to take significant steps in all fields, whether economic, social, security or political. The UAE leads the region’s countries in the volume of non-oil trade, which is a fundamental pillar of the state’s economy. Distinctly unique, the UAE has provided a fertile environment for innovation, development, and prosperity in areas such as infrastructure, education, health, urban development, etc., and not limited to these.

The ambitions of the UAE have no limits. Its distinguishing factor is its young leadership that is open to the world and seeks to make it an exceptional country.

What advancements or changes do you wish to see in the next few years?

I hope that the country and the state are able to make strides of development with more attention to detail in all the fields and industries. I believe that we will reach the day when the state can depend on itself, especially in all the vital sectors essential to a country’s development.

How advantageous is the UAE as compared to the rest of the world in matters of legal importance?

The UAE has always been keen to respect the provisions of the judiciary without interfering with its competencies and rulings. It is distinguished by the existence of laws that regulate various areas of life. Most importantly, the UAE is adaptable, and there is a rapid response to any changes that may arise if there is any need to issue a law or amend an existing one. 

The UAE was and is still keen to respect and implement law regardless of its parties, so individuals, institutions and companies have complete confidence in the UAE’s judiciary and the governing laws.

Life has changed for many in the past few months. What has been your most significant learning?

Life during the pandemic has been impacted drastically as many concepts have changed. Traditional work methods have changed forever, keeping pace with the new work norms as per the requirements of the modern world. Also, speaking of the legislative structure of the UAE, look how well the state has managed to keep pace with the circumstances, and issued laws based on the current requirements that go hand in hand with a lot of craftsmanship and realism.

What is the one skill that you want to learn now that it’s essential to adapt to the ‘new normal’?

The most important skills or qualities that one now needs are flexibility, realism, and acceptance of change. He who does not have these skills or qualities cannot cope with and coexist in the current circumstances.

How do you celebrate National Day?

I usually celebrate it with my family or with the institution that I belong to, and I also visit some tourist spots in the country. I believe we must give this day its right to instill in our children the feeling that this day has a special significance, especially as it expresses belonging, loyalty and love for the homeland.

On the occasion of the 49th National Day, what is your special message to your countrymen and women, and to all the fellow residents who have made Dubai their home?

The UAE is a state of tolerance irrespective of colour, race, and religion. It deserves to be loved, and the love must be tender and generous. We all need to contribute to its elevation, development and stability, regardless of whether we are citizens or expatriates.

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