x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

The Ali Story: A humble thank you

Ali Al Saloom shares his insight and experiences from growing up in the UAE.

What a journey it's been to be involved in the field of bridging cultures; I can summarise that it's been the greatest journey ever, alhamdulillah, and having the opportunity to share my experiences with you via this page here in The National was such a great honour. I will still be here, but from next week on only with my Q&As.

Since I was a child, my beloved father always made me appreciate life: "Dear son, remember we are guests in this life and someday we will all leave it. We have to treat our surroundings with respect; always, son, remember that always." Hence, you always have to wake up in the morning and say 'alhamdulillah'; thanks to God for giving you the opportunity to leave a greater stamp of your existence in this life. You need to leave a positive trace of your actions, be it a positive attitude, a smile, helping others, doing good at all levels of your communication with people and the surroundings, plants, animals and this whole planet. I remember before my father passed away that I promised him that I shall do my best to leave a great stamp of my upbringing and culture to the whole world.

It's been more than five years now since I've been writing for The National. I have shared with you all the best subjects, questions and answers and columns that covered various fields of our country's culture, heritage and Arabia in general. Of course, I also shared my personal stories, all for the sake of offering our expat community a better understanding about Emiratis and about our country's culture - and also to send a message to remind my fellow Emiratis that our beloved country was founded on welcoming all people from around the world, and that we can always continue the great work that our beloved father Sheikh Zayed started more than 41 years ago. It's all about speaking one language, which is "respect", and to welcome everybody into our country, so we can achieve one big and beautiful goal, which is to appreciate each other. I hope that my promise to my dad has been achieved.

I'm a father today to two beautiful angels, Abdulrahman and Salamah, may God bless them. I truly can't wait for them to grow and, hopefully someday, manage to read these articles and appreciate the fact that their father opened his heart, mind and whole life for a great number of readers to understand and appreciate his background and culture; and, of course, to pray for their father, who was their hero and from whom they learnt a lot. I pray that I can achieve half of what my father achieved with me, as they are the future generation of our world - not just the UAE. I try my best to plant the seed of respecting everybody and all cultures in my children's hearts and minds so they can shine as beautiful human beings with pure intentions, love and peace.

The greatest pain in my life will always be losing my father before he met his grandchildren, yet I believe his soul visits us. But this is the same reason that makes me wake up every day and strive to achieve cultural understanding and share love and respect, because it's what I believe makes my father's soul continue to visit me - to tell me he is proud, and appreciates my humble work.

Our Prophet Mohammed says: "When the son of Adam dies, all his good deeds come to an end except three things: an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a son to pray for him." So I pray for my father every day, as he is the reason for the man I am today, and I pray that God blesses every single parent for their children. May all of us leave a great ongoing charity or knowledge, and a great generation of children who will make their parents proud and pray for them always.

I end my biography chapter today with a big thank you to all of you who joined me in reading my page in TheNational; I hope it added value to you as much as it added to me and, inshallah, I hope someday I can publish my biography with greater achievements of humanity and cultural understanding and appreciation. I also hope you continue to follow my cultural questions and answers, which will continue on these pages.

Rabi Yebark fekom - may God bless you all.