Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Nuaimi is at his happiest when talking to young people.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Nuaimi is at his happiest when talking to young people.

'Green Sheikh' reaches out to youth

The three students were holding back until Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali al Nuaimi broke the awkward distance between them.

AJMAN // The three students were holding back until Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali al Nuaimi broke the awkward distance between them by holding out his hand for the young men to shake. Explaining his informal style, the Sheikh, a member of the Ajman royal family and a cousin of the Crown Prince, explained it was "about breaking barriers and reaching out to the new generation". In addition to his formal titles, Sheikh Abdul Aziz is known among his peers as the "Green Sheikh" and to his admirers as the "Down to Earth Sheikh".

He is never happier than talking to young people, and had just completed a lecture to students on the importance of the relationship between the environment and their mental well-being. "Students spend too much time inside buildings, and are not in touch with nature and its benefits," he says. "That much needed harmony between the human and nature is disrupted." Born in India, where his father was working at the time, the 42-year-old nephew of the ruler of Ajman has an unconventional style that includes filling his pockets with ginger sweets that he likes to hand out to anyone who crosses his path, explaining they are "to give you boost".

He gives out his business card freely with his email "greensheikh@gmail.com" saying "people can reach me at any time. We sheikhs are from the people and we should never forget that." His official role is as the environmental adviser to the Ajman Government, where he is also chairman of Green Base Environmental Services and the founder of the Majlis for Holistic Knowledge and Holistic Health. His philosophy brings a new age touch to the teachings of Islam. "Self jihad is critical to living a good and holistic life," he says.

The sheikh has a formidable list of academic qualifications, including a doctorate from Griffith University in Australia, bachelor degrees in petroleum and chemical engineering and several diplomas in environmental and related studies. Since then, he has put his studies to practical use, joining dozens of environmental groups. He regularly makes TV and radio appearances to advocate a more environmentally-friendly approach to development.

"In a country that is developing so fast, we sometimes forget about balance between the boom and the environment," he says. For those who say they are too busy for such concerns or do not have time to appreciate the beauty of nature, he has this message: "I have lived through all scenarios, poor, rich and middle, and all throughout, I never forgot my connection with my surroundings." A father of four, he likes to sit and talk with young men in his majlis where they discuss everything from social to relationship problems. "They just need guidance and someone they can talk to openly," he says.

"We even talk about sex and the importance of expressing feelings properly." His previous jobs include the post of youth director at the Ministry of Sport and Youth, the CEO of the Alihsan Charity Centre for children and divorced or widowed women, the director of trade control at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, and even a sky diving instructor. After taking his wife around the world for their honeymoon, he persuaded her to parachute from an aircraft, saying: "Why not? We can't live with limits, it is good to challenge one's self and break out of one's box."

As for breaking more barriers, he has another goal on the horizon. "Space travel interests me, and I am now trying to see if there is a way to get a chance to have an Emirati go to space," he says with a smile. rghazal@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

On our sixth birthday, today’s news told visually

Today in print, we are doing something different: we use only photos, graphics, illustrations and headlines to capture the news in a one-off collector’s edition.

 Rolling out the structure for the set. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Star Wars: Episode VII evidence in Abu Dhabi desert

After more than a week of speculation, The National has what are believed to be the first photos of a Star Wars shoot in the Abu Dhabi desert.

 INVERNESS, SCOTLAND - APRIL 16:  A general view of Urquhart Castle, Drumnadrochit on April 16, 2014 in Scotland. A referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country will take place on September 18, 2014.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Map of seperatist movements around the world

The conflict in Ukraine is a classic example of competing aspirations and identities – here’s a look at seperatist movements around the world.

 Hassan Abdullah, who goes by the name Abu Mahmoud, an Emirati fisherman, poses for a portrait at the Al Rughayalat Port. Abu Mahmoud was born and raised in Fujairah city and has been working as a fisherman since 1968. “I’m a shark man”, he says, “I was born in the sea.” Silvia Razgova / The National

In pictures: Fishing communities in the Northern Emirates

Fishermen in Fujairah and Umm Al Qaiwain worry that new regulations to protect fish stocks are harming their trade. We look at both communities through the lens of our photographers.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.

 Omar Al Miskini was honoured as Outstanding Male Driver with Special Needs at last month’s Gulf Traffic Week.

In pictures: Special needs driver an exemplary example in the UAE

Photos of Omar Al Miskini, 40, who was named exemplary male driver with special needs by Abu Dhabi Police during the Gulf Traffic Week


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National