Our collective identity as a nation, but also our national identity as Emiratis, has been formed by this great man’s vision. By having those images around us we keep him in our memories.
Ask Ali: why do you see so many images of Sheikh Zayed everywhere across the country?
Dear Ali: Why do you see so many images of Sheikh Zayed everywhere across the country? KA, Abu Dhabi
Dear KA: Nice question. Our founding father Sheikh Zayed – may Allah have mercy on his soul – was a very charismatic, wise, strong-willed, courageous and well-respected man, both in the UAE and internationally. His curiosity for other people’s points of view and sincere concern about their life conditions motivated him to work hard and improve life everywhere across the country and globally. The images of him that you see everywhere in the country are there so that we never forget his sincere dedication and devotion towards his people and the country. At the same time, these images demonstrate our gratitude towards his great and unforgettable achievements, especially since he was the one who made the federation of our country possible. Therefore, our collective identity as a nation, but also our national identity as Emiratis, has been formed by this great man’s vision. By having those images around us we keep him in our memories. His success became visible after he signed the federation on December 2, 1971, and he became President of the UAE. His further investment in education, medicine and infrastructure brought so much hope for the people in this region. With God’s blessings through sending him to us with his support, our country prospered rapidly and became a stable, modern and tolerant country that is still able to hold on to its traditions and Islamic faith. He helped our country to acquire the right attitude attached with a strong sense of responsibility to overcome any obstacles, regional and international challenges so that we continue to strive for a brighter future. Every person that comes across his image may say “Allah Yerhama”, which means “may God have mercy on his soul”. This is said by all of us as Emiratis and people who know about Sheikh Zayed.
Dear Ali: Why am I not allowed to take pictures of Emirati women wearing the national garb even though I am a woman? AL, Dubai
Dear AL: It is OK for you to take pictures, but it is more polite if you ask for permission first, no matter if you want to take pictures of women or men. In general, Arab women are quite shy and, by not respecting that cultural boundary, it can come off as quite insensitive behaviour towards our culture.
Taking pictures of governmental buildings, military bases, airports, oil or gas installations isn’t allowed in our country and, if you are not careful, you could get arrested for doing so.
Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50.
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