x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

In praise of the UAE's 'unknown soldiers'

In a message released to mark the seventh anniversary of his accession as Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed called for celebrations not in his honour but for the ordinary workers. Here, then, is The National's recognition of the men and women who make our lives better.

Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE, May 28, 2012:

Garden City, the first permanent labour camp to be installed in Al Ain, was visited today by the press and delegates from the Ministry of Labour, including its undersecratary. The camp has few residents at the moment but expects to expand in the area of 12,000 full time residents. 

Seen here is Suhail, in his room, inside of the camp. 

Lee Hoagland/The National
Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE, May 28, 2012: Garden City, the first permanent labour camp to be installed in Al Ain, was visited today by the press and delegates from the Ministry of Labour, including its undersecratary. The camp has few residents at the moment but expects to expand in the area of 12,000 full time residents. Seen here is Suhail, in his room, inside of the camp. Lee Hoagland/The National

They are, in the words of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the "unknown soldiers" of the UAE.

In a message released to mark the seventh anniversary of his accession as Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed called for celebrations not in his honour but for the ordinary workers who labour day, and frequently night, to make life a little easier for all of us.

Among those groups mentioned by Sheikh Mohammed are construction workers, janitors, gardeners and domestic workers.

"These groups play an active role in society," Sheikh Mohammed points out. "Some have spent many years doing a great job and they deserve a big 'Thank You' from all of us.

"Every day our cities wake up to find clean and decorated streets and all facilities ready for a new day. Unknown soldiers are behind such work. We want to let them know that their services are valued and appreciated as they make our lives easier and better."

As most of us enjoy a public holiday today after the New Year celebrations, thousands of these workers will be out on the streets, removing every trace of last night's revels.

Others will be watering the city parks that create oases of greenery in a desert land, caring for our children or rising at first light to board a bus that will take them to one of the hundreds of construction sites for projects that have transformed the nation.

These are lives marked by long hours, low reward and, for many, little thanks. These images, taken by The National's photographers in the past two years, give a human face to people it is often too easy to forget.

As Sheikh Mohammed points out: "Each one of us can thank the worker at home or the gardener of the block or the person who sweeps the street outside. We will tell them all, 'Thank you'."

In his message, the Ruler included images of himself meeting workers on the Dubai Metro and at the same time asked others to share their photographs for a celebration of the working man and woman.

Here, then, is The National's recognition of the men and women who make our lives better.