x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The Ali Story: As luck would have it

Ali Al Saloom on the birth of his daughter, and the number 13.

March has been a blessing of a month for me as I have had many events taking place at the same time between family and work and personal ambitions that I have always wanted to fulfil.

What's really interesting about all these events is that they took place on March 13. And guess the year, 2013? Thirteen? Does it ring a bell yet? Well, it's believed that, for many people around the world, the number 13 is a bad luck number, and almost like a curse. I went out with some of my expat friends for dinner this week and they told me a few things about the number's associations. They told me that Judas Iscariot - the apostle who betrayed Jesus - was the 13th man to take his place at the last supper. Also, there used to be 13 steps that a criminal had to climb to the gallows. There's also a legend that a hangman's noose traditionally had 13 turns (actually, it's about eight). Apollo 13 is the only unsuccessful moon mission, and kids officially become teenagers at 13, and we all know that's a scary phase.

This made me laugh so much that I think some of my expat friends were a bit offended, but I didn't really mean to laugh at what they believed in. However, it's something new to me that a number would be taken so seriously that it could be good or bad luck.

But in my case, I wonder if the world view about the number 13 would change if people know that on March 13, 2013, God blessed me with a little angel daughter who I named Salamah. We never planned for this but I admit that my whole family were wishing that the new baby girl would be born on this date since it would be unique to share her birth date with others!

This is not because the number 13 carries any special value but simply because the date digits just look cool. Funny, eh?

On the other hand, I was very honoured and blessed when our foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visited one of the latest creative cultural and tourism products that I have launched on the market, the Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey - a sea cruise on a traditional boat where one can learn about the heritage of our country as well aas experiencing the process of opening a pearl oyster and finding a real pearl in it.

The number 13 was also part of this great news because the whole local news coverage of the Sheikh's visit to the journey was published on March 13 as well. My friends told me that this could all be a coincidence! Well, duh, of course it is because I would never be able to plan the baby's delivery and the whole news coverage would show up on the same day. What has made the number 13 even more of a favourite number to me now is that, while cleaning my office on Thursday, I came across a very old picture of me when I was around five years old. I was with my favourite football team, Al Jazira, for a group shot after the team had won a match. But the surprise is that my favourite, beloved player also carried the number 13 on his shirt, in big fonts, too!

So with that, I feel that the number 13 is nothing but a great lucky number maybe. But again in my faith we don't necessary believe in numbers and don't really care a lot about that. My friend looked me in the eye and said: "There's an old superstition that says if you have 13 letters in your name, you are basically bound to have the devil's luck!" Silly, yes, but slightly more convincing when you consider that Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Jack the Ripper, Theodore Bundy and Albert De Salvo all contain 13 letters, all of which are known serial killers! (I know, I know, what about their middle names, eh?)

Oh well, all I want you to know is that March 13, 2013 was and will always be a date that I have to remember from now on as I'll have to sing Happy Birthday to my little princess Salamah; and thank God her name does not consist of 13 letters. Alhamdullilah!