I began building my humble Ask Ali brand in 2007 and was blessed to be able to conduct tours of Abu Dhabi to potential future business clients who were considering whether or not to host events in our beautiful capital. One of the best sights, then "under construction", was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and many of the guests would enjoy seeing it, although it had not yet been completed.
On one of these tours, I came across two engineers who were involved in the building stage of the mosque: an Emirati woman, Khawla, and an Emirati man, Nooh. Both were very hospitable and generous with us as they explained how the mosque was going to be finished, for instance, by showing us interior samples.
We bid them farewell and I exchanged numbers with Nooh (the Arabic version of Noah, who is named after the Prophet).
A few months later, I met someone else who went on to become a good friend. His name was Fadhel Al Muhairi, a well-known filmmaker in the UAE. He asked me to take a bit-part in one of his movies. (Yes, believe it, yours truly has had a thing about acting but I have never really had the time for it - yet.) Anyway, Fadhel brought me on-board, and I remember asking: "When do we start?". He answered that filming would start in a few days. We went to film a small scene outdoors and, while I was trying to learn my lines, I met the actor who was sharing the scene with me, and guess who it was? Yes, Nooh!
Nooh was rather taken aback to see me participating in the movie, and I was surprised too, albeit not as much as him because I've always believed Nooh had a great face for the camera and an ability that will make him a star one day. Fadhel introduced us and asked me if I had ever acted before, and I replied: "Dude, this is my first and last role, but let's see how it goes!"
We then had a laugh and did the scene. The first take went fine and Nooh raised his eyebrow and asked me: "Wow, Ali are you sure this is your first time acting?" I said that it was, and then he said nothing. We finally got the scene on the fourth take. We were able to do another scene, which also went well, alhamdulillah.
Nooh asked me if I really had been joking about whether I had acted before. He said he was very impressed with my efforts and said that I should continue to act in more movies. So I thanked him and said maybe we could get involved in another project. Let's see, eh?
A few weeks later I received an invitation from Fadhel to attend his wedding. And again, guess who I met at the wedding event? Yes, it was Nooh, who introduced me to some of his friends.
Reuniting again with Nooh on this third occasion made us build and strengthen more of our brotherhood and friendship, and I remember getting a dinner invitation at his home as he wanted me to meet some of his other friends.
From that gathering, I met Jaddawi, Humaid, Abdulla, Issa, and Ibrahim with whom I became great buddies. I reciprocated by asking them to my farm, and we all continue to build this brotherhood and friendship with respect, joy and inspiration. Today, I'm really grateful and proud to say that these guys are all truly more than brothers and friends to me. I always appreciate God for bringing them my way but I also have to say thanks to Nooh for his invitation to his house, which was the gateway to meeting these guys.
I reflect every day on my school classmates, as well as my neighbohood friends, and I wonder what happened to them and question how come I have different friends from the ones I had when I was growing up in Bani Yas?
I ponder what will happen in the future and whether these new friendships of mine will last. Are we going to forget about each other in the future or are we going to continue to strengthen this brotherhood and bonding? I'm hopeful and very positive that we will be always in touch, inshallah, and that we will always be there supporting each other.
We meet people every day but we never know if they will end up being good friends or just random people we meet. I would recommend you hold on to friendships because it is a sign from the universe that this is meant to be a good thing for you and your friend or friends. God bless all of our friends.