Paul Nagelkerke fell in love with Star Wars' favourite droid R2-D2 when he saw the film at the age of seven. It triggered in him a love of all things robotic that has prevailed in the decades to follow.
The power company worker is now living and working in Dubai, where he is trying to establish a robotics group - a meeting of like-minded people who share a love of building and creating robots.
The Canadian expatriate, who set up a similar but thriving group in Vancouver while working as a technician at the University of British Columbia, has established the Dubai group on the online platform, Meetup. The site allows people around the world to create offline groups for everything from new mums to mental health support sessions.
It's fair to say the Dubai Lego Robotic Makers group isn't quite an overwhelming success just yet, predominantly because it relies on word of mouth. A busy monthly meeting can have about 10 participants, while the least busy have been meetings of just one.
"In Vancouver, it took five years for the group to get to the point where the group was self-sustaining and I didn't have to run it," he laughs. "I'm stubborn, so I can wait.
"Before starting the group here, I went around and talked to different people and realised there was a little bit of frustration that there wasn't a group that people could go to and get information about robotics - where to get stuff, how to get started, where to start.
"Most of the people are beginners and they are just learning about the different kits that are available worldwide, and the subset of kits available in Dubai. A lot of them are programmers."
Nagelkerke's fascination with robotics - especially his best-loved robot, a voice-activated life-size R2-D2 - started when he was very young, and hasn't waned.
"I remember seeing my first radio-controlled boat when I was about six or seven. I was amazed how moving a little knob on the transmitter made the little rudder move on the boat. It was fascinating at the time and it's still fascinating now.
"Robots are machines that move on their own, things that have a will of their own. They are machines that can physically interact with the world. A laptop computer doesn't interact with the world on its own, it's a very passive device. This is what we find interesting."
His most ambitious project to date was a wheelchair transporter that offered wheelchair users the chance to "turn your scooter, manual or power wheelchair into a six-wheel driver, all-terrain vehicle!".
Using the foundations of an expired patent, Nagelkerke, whose mother is a retired teacher and father a retired engineer, and his friend Darrel Hyatt managed to create a new prototype that resembles a golf buggy more than any other mode of transport.
The transporter, as they named it, would essentially allow wheelchair users to travel over any terrain using a joystick control. The six-wheel-drive machine came with independent spring suspension, tyres suitable for all terrain, joystick steering control, a roof to provide protection from the rain and sun and a solar panel on the top to keep the drive batteries charged up.
The prototype was made from three wheelchairs that were disassembled then rebuilt as a wheelchair carrier. The point of the invention was to save people the cost of buying an outdoor wheelchair - which can cost tens of thousands of dollars - while giving people more independence to travel.
Sadly for the two inventors - and any potential buyers - investors weren't prepared to put their hands in their pockets.
"The liability and medical certification scared away the investors. There was interest, but not enough business and investment interest."
When it comes to robotics, it's not just professional engineers or physics experts who seem to get the bug. Linda Silver, an informal science educator who lives in Abu Dhabi, turned her interest in robotics into a hobby when her two children were young.
She is now the only female member of the Dubai Lego Robotic Makers and travels to Dubai for the meetings whenever she can.
"My background is in science education, so I'm really interested in how to get people interested in science and technology and innovation," she explains. "That started with my own kids in the US, who for years spent every summer or spring break at robotic camps."
Silver's previous role in the States was running a science museum. "It's an easy way to make it fun and get kids interested in building things on their own, which is so critically important to imagination and entrepreneurship.
"Lego is so accessible, everyone played with it as kids. Now the software that comes with it, the robotic kits, it's stuff you can buy on the internet for not very much money. As you graduate from Lego there's all kinds of DIY robotic electronic opportunities."
Silver's own pet project is an Arduino robot system she's building that will affect the way her family watches films.
"I'm trying to programme it so when I sit down and push play on my DVD player, my lights will dim. Robots can just be little things that make life simpler."
Silver, who is in her early 40s and moved to the Emirates two-and-a-half years ago, has a number of professional projects that she's working on to help expand the robot-making field across the country. She's also keen to encourage more people - especially women - to join the Meetup group.
"As a culture we should be doing a lot more with our hands - building things and taking things apart. It's a movement now in the US; there are dedicated spaces in the US for making robots.
"So here, on a minor level, I'd like to see more women, and on a bigger level I'd like more people interested, engaged and getting together and doing things together. I'm convinced there are people all over the Emirates doing this in their garages or homes by themselves. It would be great to see more come out and collaborate."
Another robot enthusiast who has attended some of the meetings and would like to see more people get involved is Sreejit Chakrabarty, who spends much of his time training young people in robotics.
He has trained more than 1,000 students from 25 schools, including five groups preparing for the World Robot Olympiad 2013 - in which two of the teams placed first and third.
He's also in the process of setting up a business and taking on robotics teaching as a full-time profession, tapping into the huge UAE market.
"We have lots of small clubs but they are all for industry robotics, they're not for the general public or people that want to learn. The Meetup is the first of its kind. It's a great thing, we just need it to be advertised."
Chakrabarty, 27, studied electronics engineering at Mumbai University in his native India. He went on to train in robotics at the Indian Institute of Technology, which is billed as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Asia.
"When you make something from scratch, you build it and you spend time thinking how it will work. It's a great feeling when it works.
"Research shows this is a great thing for the brain. There are eight parts of the brain that need to be developed and when you take the IQ tests, you develop two or three of them. But when you do robotics, you develop six of the eight at the same time. So for kids it's a great thing, but even adults, you can learn and do more in a team than working by yourself."