Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 August 2020

High achievers embody idea of 'positive vision' for Middle East

Arabs rising to the top of global institutions send a message about the region's potential

Capt Aysha Al Hameli is the UAE's permanent representative to the International Civil Aviation Organisation Council. Wam
Capt Aysha Al Hameli is the UAE's permanent representative to the International Civil Aviation Organisation Council. Wam

On the surface, there might seem to be little in common between Robert Mardini, the new director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, pilot Aysha Al Hameli, on the shortlist to head the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and Ghada Fathi Waly, the new executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. But collectively, the triumvirate of high achievers are projecting an image of the region that flies in the face of stories of conflict and political woes that are too often amplified on the global stage. Through their hard work, Lebanon-born Mr Mardini, Emirati Captain Al Hameli and Egyptian minister Ms Waly have risen to key positions in some of the world’s most significant institutions, sending a message out to the world that voices from the region matter, while being vocal about issues that count in the Arab world.

They embody the very idea of a “positive vision” that Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, spoke of at the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain. At the annual policy forum, Dr Gargash put the case for presenting a regionwide image of positivity for greater stability. From Lebanon to Iraq, the region is being rocked by protests and divisions. Diplomacy and multilateralism will go some way to bridging some of the divides; so too will the examples set by role models such as Capt Al Hameli and Mr Mardini, who show what can be achieved when there is hope, will and determination, and when dynamism conquers all. Mr Mardini, for example, was born in Lebanon just before the civil war broke out. His achievements show what is possible.

The likes of Robert Mardini show what can be achieved when there is hope, will and determination, and when dynamism conquers all. EPA
The likes of Robert Mardini show what can be achieved when there is hope, will and determination, and when dynamism conquers all. EPA

Indeed, the story of the region they hail from is one of many contradictions. Some parts remain gripped by war, sectarian strife, corruption and weak governance. Other nations such as the UAE are setting an example to the world in terms of fostering social, economic and technological development. No one should be left behind in this burgeoning growth story. It is to that end, for example, that the UAE launched the Madrasa e-learning platform last year, set up to teach more than 50 million pupils across the Middle East and enable equal access to education.

Dr Gargash’s emphasis on developing partnerships between nations makes perfect sense in this light. Countries do not work well in isolation; it is when they join hands that progress can be made.

In fact, beyond the individual contributions of the likes of Ms Waly, Mr Mardini and Capt Al Hameli, we are also seeing countries in the Middle East play increasingly important roles on the global stage. The UAE, for instance, secured a fourth term on Unesco’s executive board last week, which, according to Noura Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, reflects the country’s efforts in advancing initiatives in the fields of culture, science and education. Saudi Arabia and Tunisia also secured seats on the council.

While the role of nations is vital, individuals who rise up on the world stage deserve recognition, not only because they do important work but because their success serves as an inspiration for the region’s young generation. It is such role models that play a vital part in a broader awakening among those who aspire to not just lead better lives but to work for causes that benefit multiple others.

Updated: November 24, 2019 06:55 PM

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