x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

My UAE: Sameer Al Obaidli, a psychiatrist, film director, actor, model and sportsman

A profile of the multitalented Sameer Al Obaidli.

Sameer Al Obaidli juggles being a full-time psychiatrist, a father, and working in film. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Sameer Al Obaidli juggles being a full-time psychiatrist, a father, and working in film. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Sameer Al Obaidli, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi, has an eclectic career history. As well as his full-time job as a psychiatrist, he can also boast film director, actor, model and professional sportsman as career highlights.

"I suppose I have a done a lot," he says. "Whatever I am doing at one time, I give it 100 per cent."

Al Obaidli, who is married to Asiya, and has two children, Zara, 6, and Hamdan, 3, works at the behavioural sciences pavilion at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in the capital. He's one of only a small number of Emiratis working in the mental health field, which is still in its infancy here.

"It can be a bit challenging because the systems are not very developed yet. Community services, for example, need to be built upon a lot.

"In a Western hospital system, there are organisations that can help in the home. Here we don't have that, so the patients aren't very involved in society. We want to change this. There is still a taboo in the Emirates."

But when he was at the Abu Dhabi Indian School as a child, he had a very different idea of what his future held. "I was really into sports. I played football for Al Wahda club during the summer and was a UAE champion in athletics. I wanted to be an athlete. But at that time we didn't have the Olympics organisation, so I couldn't pursue it."

Instead, after finishing school, he moved to Romania for six years to study, before returning to the UAE for a two-year internship. He went on to learn his speciality in Germany, and is now doing an executive master of business administration degree.

While in Romania, he signed up to a modelling agency and became its first "international model". This led to his interest in acting. He now runs, along with another psychiatrist, the Trucial States film production and marketing company.

"Whatever I do, I do 100 per cent, but my passion is film."

What’s your favourite film?

If I could only watch one DVD again, it would be a video of my wife and kids. For a movie, one of my favourites is The Matrix; the first one, I don’t like the others. I think films are seen by everybody in their own way, so it’s hard to choose one.

One item that you can’t live without?

My pen. When there are things in my head, I must write them down, so I have to have a pen at all times. My favourite would be a Montblanc fountain pen, in black or blue, with a very sharp nib.

Favourite place to eat?

Circle Cafe in Al Raha Gardens. It’s amazing food. I’m a big fan of simple foods and raw foods. I love salads; without salad, it isn’t a meal.

Favourite book?

When I was in India recently, I started reading a book called The Immortals of Meluha. It’s a sort of spiritual book. I’m a Muslim, but I have a very open mind.

Favourite actor?

I would love to work with Matt Damon. I worked with him on Syriana, and I think he is amazing, just a brilliant man.

Favourite place to travel?

If it were me and my wife, I would go to Salzburg in Austria. It’s a very beautiful and romantic place. When I was studying in Munich, I would travel around almost every weekend. If I had my children, maybe Disneyland in the US. I have never been to the American continent. A friend told me once: “If you go to the US first, then go to the rest of the world, you won’t enjoy it.” So let’s see.

Person you most look up to?

Amitabh Bachchan, the Indian actor. He has worked so hard and become so popular. I don’t think there is anyone who knows him and doesn’t like him. He’s such a big star.


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