Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Amer Kazim, Senior Vice President of Group Services at Dubai International Airport, saw his first take-offs and landings with his sister and brother as a child.
Amer Kazim, Senior Vice President of Group Services at Dubai International Airport, saw his first take-offs and landings with his sister and brother as a child.

Amer grew up with Dubai International Airport

A 40-year-old Emirati remembers watching Dubai as it grew up with him.

DUBAI // For most of Amer Kazim's childhood, Friday held a special meaning.

It was the only day off from work and school in the 1970s. On these one-day weekends, Mr Kazim's father would take the entire family out for their traditional "drive around town", following Friday prayers and lunch.

"He would give us the option of where to start our drive, and then no matter where we went, we would always make a stop at the airport," he said.

The family parked on the ramp overlooking the planes docked at Dubai International Airport's Terminal One. Then, Mr Kazim, his sister and two brothers would join their parents in counting the tails of the planes.

"There would be a maximum of ten planes, and most of them were Gulf Air, Air India and Pakistan International Airlines," said Mr Kazim.

The family tradition lasted until the 1980s, allowing them to witness the airport's gradual expansion into one of the largest in the world. They noted the addition of local plane tails when Emirates Airline was established in 1985.

But as the airport grew larger, it became more difficult for the family to actually see the planes and their tails from outside the airport.

"But I am lucky, I still get to see and count those plane tails," said Mr Kazim, who after two decades of working in finance at various institutions - including Emirates - has landed an office with a big window view of the very spot that he and his family once saw from the across the road.

"Life is full of surprises," said the senior vice president of Groups Services at the Dubai airport.

Mr Kazim was born Oct 31, 1971. But since he was a "premature baby," he says he was scheduled to be born in December.

"I am so lucky, I get to celebrate two birthdays. First mine, followed by my country's birthday," he said. "It is like I get to celebrate two birthdays each year."

This year, as the UAE celebrates its 40th anniversary, Mr Kazim can't help but feel "proud" of how far his country has come.

"Our leaders had a vision, and we watched this vision come alive gradually, and only now understand how far-reaching and all-encompassing it was," he said.

As Mr Kazim grew, he watched and experienced as his country grew around him.

"Before there was no congestion on the roads and there were roundabouts everywhere that were used as landmarks in giving directions," said Mr Kazim.

As traffic grew heavier, the iconic roundabouts like the "falcon" roundabout at the junction of Al Mina Road and Al Ghubaiba Road, and the "flame" near the old Dubai Airline centre, were replaced with traffic lights.

"Life was moving at a slower pace back then," said Mr Kazim, remembering days spent at "Happy land" with swings and slides, which have since closed down. He also remembers ice skating at "Nasser Leisure land," which has survived to this day.

As a father of one son and two daughters, Mr Kazim likes to remind them of how it was back then, and how important it was not to take things "for granted."

"Every new generation needs to reflect on itself and see how to give back to a country that has given them so much support and trust," said Mr Kazim, who received a Government scholarship to study accounting and finance in the US.

"In my case, now as I reached 40, I hope to have contributed something towards the fields I worked, particularly the service industry, as our country moves towards diversification away from oil," he said.

Whatever changes continue to take place in the UAE, Mr Kazim always goes back to those childhood car rides with his family.

"I learned so much about life and my country, by simply sitting in the back seat of my father's car," he said.



Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 A supporter of India’s ruling Congress Party wears a mask of leader Rahul Gandhi during a rally in Mumbai, India. Kevin Frayer / Getty

Best photography from around the world, April 21

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 Bloom Properties' Al Bateen Waterfront project in Abu Dhabi. Photo courtesy Bloom Properties

Bloom Properties starts work on Al Bateen Waterfront project

The development will feature 225 residential apartments of one to four bedrooms, a 200-room five-star hotel with 57 serviced apartments, and a 3,000 square metre retail space

 David Moyes has led Manchester United to seventh in the Premier League, six points behind sixth-placed Tottenham. Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Manchester United require ‘radical surgery’ from top to bottom

'Moyes is not a bad manager ... However, he is doing a spectacularly bad job at United' writes Richard Jolly of Manchester United, arguing wholesale changes at the club are now necessary.

 Marina Square apartments Reem Island: Q1 2% rise. Studio - Dh65-68,000. 1BR - Dh75-95,000. 2BR - Dh110-145,000. 3BR - Dh170-190,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 no change. Sammy Dallal / The National

In pictures: Where Abu Dhabi rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Abu Dhabi have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Jia Ruhan sang as a guest singer in famous pianist Robert Wells's concert 'rockabilly-medley' in November 2012. Handout

Meet the pop star who is key to China’s superpower ambitions

Before Beijing can achieve its ambitions to be a superpower it will need to become a respected soft power. That's where Jia Ruhan comes in.

 Screen shot from Vin Deisel's facebook page of he and Michelle Rodriguez in Abu Dhabi for the filming of Fast & Furious 7. April 2014

Fast & Furious in Abu Dhabi, a social media frenzy

Fast & Furious 7 wraps up an eventful and much-anticipated week of filming in the capital. Let's take a look at what went on via the key players' social media, while they were enjoying the delights of the desert.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National