x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

All Emiratis have to share the burden of building the nation

A relevant question to ask at this time of the year is: how did I contribute to this country in the last 365 days?

Our beloved UAE has turned 42. The streets, buildings and cars have been embellished with the flag colour: red, green, white and black. Giggles, laughter and joy have filled the air.

Last year, before the UAE National Day celebration commenced, nationals and expatriates received an SMS message of greetings from Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, congratulating them on the occasion. As an Emirati, I was overwhelmed with joy and honour when I read the name of the sender. I wonder, how much happiness a non-Emirati received through that single message from Sheikh Mohammed.

In a recent interview, an Indian man who witnessed the growth of the UAE said: “In India, we don’t even get a glimpse of our government, but in the UAE, the leader can be found sitting with multiple nationalities.”

Year on year, we are reminded of the profound changes this country underwent and the many milestones it has achieved in a short period of time. One question I ask myself at this time of the year is: how did I contribute to this country in the last 365 days? How can I ever repay the debt to our national leaders? 

While the Arab Spring left many youth devastated and unemployed, leaving few opportunities to connect with their communities, our government on the other hand is on a constant mission to elevate the youth up to a higher position.

It is incredibly overwhelming how the Emiratisation programme is getting tougher. The Federal National Council (FNC) is pushing harder to make Emiratisation a law rather than a policy.

The government has set up a programme to increase salaries in the private sector to reduce the unemployment rate. Instead of criticising our leaders’ lenience and pampering, Emiratis need to participate in their country’s diversification plans, regardless of the industry or sector.

No doubt, many Emiratis do not have to sweat to find a job, and without asking or urging, food is always served on our plates. Every time I read that many Emiratis do not find jobs in the private sector appealing, I am bewildered. How are we going to hold managerial positions and lead this country?

Working hours and salary vary from public to private, but such factors shouldn’t put off Emiratis from engaging in both sectors. We are provided with proper education, training and skills development, but what is required of Emiratis is the intellectual capacity.

I can’t think of another government that is meticulous in providing all possible means of comfort, progress and property to its people. If we work extra hours and exhaust ourselves, we are only benefiting ourselves plus safeguarding the future generation.

Emiratis should not overlook the many contributions by expatriates – from infrastructure to health care.

When our country was still a desert, people of other nations spent the time and effort to build it. Today, many of us are enjoying the product of that effort.

If we were to witness the growth of this country from scratch, we would be scattered in all sectors for the love of this country. In any company, Emiratis should not feel belittled to learn from people of other nationalities who have a better understanding of life and have experience, skills and qualifications.

One lesson I learnt from the late founding father, Sheikh Zayed, is to have a long-term vision. Some Emiratis I spoke to have the vision of being in the highest position in a well-known company. Such vision could certainly be achieved, but only through patience, maturity, perseverance, skills and knowledge.

The role of a manager or director is to make decisions and make others work efficiently, but if the former lacks proper strategy and planning, the younger staff will not be able to reach their potential. One of the most important resources in any economy is the people.

While our leaders are working hard to give citizens what they aspire for, let Emiratis also stand up and share the responsibility of carrying the leadership burden on their shoulder for the betterment of their country.

aalhameli@thenational.ae