x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Beyond Borders: How the Philippines changed the lives of six young Emiratis

The first of six-part documentary will introduce the three men and three women as they embark on their 15-day trip to the Philippines.

From left, Mohammed Al Ameri, Ahmed Al Ghurair, Salem Bakheet Al Marar, Fatima Abdulla Farah, Mariam Al Kuwaiti and Tasneem Alnaqbi with the host of MBC documentary Beyond Border, Saoud Al Kaabi. The six-part programme goes on air on November 15 2013. Photo courtesy John Sammon, Saluki Media
From left, Mohammed Al Ameri, Ahmed Al Ghurair, Salem Bakheet Al Marar, Fatima Abdulla Farah, Mariam Al Kuwaiti and Tasneem Alnaqbi with the host of MBC documentary Beyond Border, Saoud Al Kaabi. The six-part programme goes on air on November 15 2013. Photo courtesy John Sammon, Saluki Media

ABU DHABI // A documentary series chronicling the life-changing journey of six young Emiratis to the Philippines begins on Friday.

The first of six episodes of Beyond Borders will introduce the three men and three women as they embark on their 15-day trip.

But it is not just the experience of travel that was the source of their transformation.

All six, chosen from hundreds of applicants, had travelled extensively before departing to South East Asia for the documentary.

The oldest of the group, Tasneem Alnaqbi, 23, has visited, studied, and worked abroad.

A mechanical engineering student at UAE University, Ms Alnaqbi has also travelled to China as a UAE Youth Ambassador, completed a six-week internship in Germany working on semi-conductors, and taken part in a six-month aerodynamic internship, with Airbus, in France.

Fatima Abdullah Farah, 21, who is studying graphic design at Zayed University, was also involved in the UAE Youth Ambassador Programme, which had her representing the UAE in Seoul, South Korea.

The art lover, who said her late father loved and believed in travelling, had taken road trips with her family to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Ms Farah’s trip to the Philippines was not her first to the region as she had previously travelled to Thailand to study jewellery making.

Ahmed Al Ghurair, 19, is also well travelled, making stops in Switzerland, France, the UK, Germany, Bahrain and the Maldives.

A recent graduate of the UAE’s Airforce Academy, he intends to study in the United States.

Al Gharbia was represented by two participants, Mohammed Al Ameri and Salem Bakheet AlMarar.

Close friends, the pair attended Al Gharbia High School before the show and both had travelled overseas to study English – Mr Al Ameri in Australia and New Zealand, Mr AlMarar in Australia and Canada – as well as an exchange visit to Japan for the latter.

Even the youngest of the travellers, Mariam Al Kuwaiti, 17, an aspiring engineer who was a pupil at Liwa International School in Al Ain, has travelled to the US, Thailand, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

For each participant in Beyond Borders, the difference with this particular journey was the manner in which they would be travelling.

Taken to Masdar City shortly before their departure, they were instructed by Saoud Al Kaabi, the show’s host, to leave all their valuables behind – including credit cards, money, electronic devices and the most precious of all possessions, their phones.

Given bags, some half the size of their own, they set out to repack, taking only what they could fit in their reduced suitcases. They were also under instructions to include only items their future Filipino hosts could afford.

This was not to be a relaxing trip to luxurious resorts in the Philippines. This would be a journey of self-discovery, sacrifice and ingenuity, all of which would profoundly impact the six participants’ lives for the foreseeable future.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae