x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Lifelong dream comes true for good citizen

Aziz Alrahman's lifelong dream to perform haj has been granted by the Dubai-based social-development programme, Watani.

Aziz Alrahman.
Aziz Alrahman.

ABU DHABI // For as long as he can remember, 70-year-old Aziz Alrahman has wanted to perform haj, but could not afford it. Now his lifelong dream has been granted by the Dubai-based social-development programme, Watani. Mr Alrahman who has spent most of his working life with Dubai Municipality, is one of 25 Emirati and UAE resident pilgrims to have their trip to Mecca funded by Watani. Many of these would not have been able to take the journey otherwise.

The Watani haj campaign also chose volunteers from various charity and care organisations, such as homes for the elderly, centres for the blind and orphanages, to make the haj in recognition of their good citizenship. Mr Alrahman, of Indian descent, was invited after he was honoured in the Dubai Government Excellence Programme awards by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his dedication to the emirate.

Ahmed al Mansoori, the director general of Watani, said: "Haj is one of the pillars of Islam and there are a lot of people who cannot fulfil it for various reasons. Mr Alrahman is an unsung hero, which is exactly who we would like to help. "When we approached him he was very, very pleased and thankful. I was very happy to see how excited he was." This is the third time Watani has organised haj campaigns, to try to "emphasise the social aspect in religion".

"Haj is a social practice, in essence, as people from different places and cultures unite for one purpose. This is what Watani is all about," Mr al Mansoori said. "People get together and forget all their differences. The people we are taking are not all Emiratis; they are from all different backgrounds." Watani has also sent a number of women whose husbands and families were unable to go. Dr Alya Obaid, one of the women on the special companionship programme, said she would not have been able to go without Watani as her husband was unable to leave his work.

"The opportunity is great," Dr Obaid said. Watani was launched three years ago after a directive from Sheikh Mohammed to promote national identity and good citizenship. Watani also organises educational and entertainment activities for youth, women and children. munderwood@thenational.ae