I was in the office with my colleague when she received a call from her mother telling her that Sheikh Zayed had passed away. We both stood in a long silence, confused and unsure how to react.
To me, and others from my generation living in a fairly young country, Sheikh Zayed was all that we knew. He was and still remains the Founding Father of our nation. His vast achievements and personal struggles to unite the then independent city-states in the Emirates remains a source of inspiration for us all.
In commemorating the anniversary of his passing, one has to deeply reflect on the late Shekih Zayed’s crucial role and many contributions towards developing the country and advancing its people. We have to live up to his legacy and his vision for each and every one one of us.
For me personally when I think about him, one of the first things that comes to my mind is his sincere empathy and his commitment to give without expecting anything in return. The UAE has always been, and still is, at the forefront when it comes to extending aid and support to its neighbours and other countries in need.
This has certainly shaped my personal and professional trajectories. I am a beneficiary of the generous welfare system that the UAE provides, something that was a priority for Sheikh Zayed and continues to be under our current leadership.
To be more precise, I am where I am in life today because of the many opportunities that were presented to me by my country; and I strongly believe in the power of education in helping develop and elevate a nation. This is why I was determined to be more involved in the development and philanthropic field. It is my humble attempt to give back and be more civically engaged in my society.
Before my current position at Dubai Cares, I was a full-time lecturer at Zayed University. It was an experience that enabled me to directly witness the fruits that the late Sheikh Zayed had planted for over 30 years through enabling a young and dynamic Emirati population that is very eager to be active participants in their society, as well as possessing the drive to contribute to realising a knowledge-based nation.
Moreover, working for Dubai Cares, which is one of the leading philanthropic organisations in our region, gives me a great sense of pride and fulfilment. I am an “ambassador" for my country; I convey the commitment of the people, both nationals and expatriates, towards supporting those who are less fortunate around the world.
This is what I believe truly signifies the cohesive country that Sheikh Zayed aimed to build. He was surely a man of actions and deeds, and on the occasion on Zayed Humanitarian Day, I believe that we all need to pause and reflect on this great leader and his legacy, as well as to find ways that we can make a deeper and more meaningful contribution towards the country that he founded.
Saeed Al Ismaily, Senior Programme Officer at Dubai Cares