x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Online bid to promote Emirati talent gets professional backing

Emirati architects, musicians, artists and other professionals are highlighted in a new online initiative.

People join in celebration during the Spirit of Union Parade on December 1 last year at Yas Island.
People join in celebration during the Spirit of Union Parade on December 1 last year at Yas Island.

DUBAI // Architects, musicians, artists, charity organisers, and culture and tourism professionals are among the Emiratis in a new online initiative aimed at promoting local talent and Emiratisation.

Iloveuae, developed by Amal Al Agroobi, is aimed at highlighting Emirati businesses, products and events, and inspiring citizens.

"Every time I opened a local magazine, I noticed they talk about foreigner chief executive officers or an expat kid who launched a new initiative," said Ms Al Agroobi, 25.

"I just thought, 'why is it that every time I open a magazine, I see a foreigner? What happened to all of the Emiratis?'"

She said there were many Emiratis doing important and interesting things, but few people knew about them.

The website, iloveuae.ae was set up in late 2010 and relaunched on UAE National Day last year. A printed directory of all Emirati businesses, nationally and internationally, will be published this year, Ms Al Agroobi said.

So far, 180 businesses have registered with the website.

"What distinguishes a foreigner over an Emirati?" Ms Al Agroobi asked.

"They both have the same qualification. The only difference is that we tend to trust the foreigner - but I want to invest in Emiratis.

"We hope to nourish our own economy in the country but we cannot reach that stage unless we push each other."

The website, which is not funded by the Government, also connects Emiratis with internships and educational programmes in Sharjah, and with companies in Abu Dhabi.

Abdulla bin Touq, 28, is a nature and landscape photographer in the UAE who recently took part in a film production that will be distributed internationally.

"Iloveuae has exposed my photography to a market I didn't venture into in the past," said Mr bin Touq, who took up photography at the age of 12. "It helped me to be more exposed and recognised in the world of photography across the UAE."

He said the initiative had helped to show that Emiratis are hard-working people.

Saif Thabet, 24, whose story is on the iloveuae website, said he hopes his example will inspire youth.

Mr Thabet is a full-time student, has a job and is a competitive athlete.

"My message to help inspire the youth is: 'Never give up, keep striving for your passion'," he said.

Mr Thabet withdrew from university several times and was a showjumper in the 2006 Asian Olympic Games. He is now a member of the national golf team.

"You learn from what you go through," Mr Thabet said.

"I withdrew from university yet I travelled, I explored life, and knew at one point I would have to go back to studying, but it was never the end of the world for me.

"There are UAE nationals that have talent. They just need to be spotted, and thanks to iloveuae, they gave us that exposure. With our stories, we can inspire our younger generation."

aalhaddad@thenational.ae