DUBAI // Saif al Deeb is one of Desert Group's star employees.
While he has a mental disability, the 25-year-old has, in four years working at the Dubai garden centre, developed a range of life skills, improved his speech and social interactions and integrated fully into what was previously a scary, unknown world.
He has since married and now has a two-year-old son, Saeed.
As a child, Mr al Deeb had been cared for at the Dubai Centre for Special Needs, where he learnt English, Arabic, basic computing and Islamic studies. However, it is the Desert Group's initiative to employ people with special needs that he credits with changing his life.
"Life would be very boring if I didn't have this job now," he said. "I'd be at home doing nothing if I wasn't doing this."
Having started off with basic jobs, such as weeding and lifting, he now hopes to learn accounting and rise to the level of salesman. He has high hopes too, for his son, to give him the life and opportunities he never had.
"I hope my son will be a policeman, so he can keep our country safe," he smiled. "I want to teach him the things I couldn't do in my childhood, like praying and eating properly. I want to take him to a proper school so he can become something in the future. Whatever I couldn't do as a child, I want to give him."
Mr al Deeb grew up without a father and takes family life extremely seriously. His job, where he earns more than Dh4,000 a month, now enables him to give money back to his family.
"I feel very good about myself now," he said. "I feel I can do anything. I can forget my disability because I do what other normal people do. People respect me and earning a salary makes me very happy."
Ibrahim Ali Mohammed Ali, one of the two carers at the centre, said growing up without a father has a big effect on men like Mr al Deeb: "It makes them feel more responsibility to their families and makes them want to be more independent."