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Special moments for these special people

Zoe Sinclair (Our staff reporter)
Filed on May 19, 2008

DUBAI — Abdul Salaam is not quite sure of his age, perhaps 70 years old, but he credits Dubai for everything he has received in his life since moving here 40 years ago to work as a garbage collector.

He fled Burma (Myanmar) after losing his land and home to come to Dubai via Pakistan on a Bangladeshi passport.

He’s worked hard nearly every day of those 40 years, now he works from 5am to 12.30pm for Dh900 a month, and yesterday he was honoured for his services during the Dubai Government Excellence Programme Awards 2008.

In his bright orange uniform and white hat, he stood quietly, in pride of place, by the side of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

“Shaikh Mohammed spoke to me in Urdu,” Salaam said.

“He asked me how long I’ve been working here, what I do.

“I like to work because of Shaikh Mohammed. I have been given everything here.”

Salaam supports a family of ten, including his wife, five daughters, one son, and two grandchildren.

Captain Yousuf R. Al Mugezwy, Al Qusais Fire Station Director, needed little encouragement when a fire broke out at the Fortune Towers in January 2007 last year.

The highly specialised rescue negotiator hauled himself from his hospital bed, just a week after a spinal operation and with orders not to walk, and proceeded to Fortune Towers.

There he scaled stairs and exterior scaffolding with 40kg of equipment strapped to his back.

He devised rescue strategies and with the help of his team saved nearly 70 people.

“This is my country. Even if I die for it, I’d go.”

His colleagues from the Dubai Civil Defence team were recognised for their work battling for three days against the raging fire that destroyed more than 80 warehouses in Al Quoz in March.

Sergeant Jamal Sultan Al Zaabi recalled a rescue which continues to serve as his motivation.

He can never forget rescuing a small girl of about two years old from a car wreck a few years ago. The gratitude on her parents’ faces served to make him more dedicated to his job.

“I like my work. I helped them. That’s my life.”

His boss, Assistant Manager of Al Karama Fire Station Saeed Sultan Al Rahoomi, said they could never forget the dangers of their occupation, especially after two close colleagues perished in a fire on Palm Jumeirah this month.

“Thank God we are in this job. It’s dangerous but we are working for the human beings. I’m not stopping and after today Shaikh Mohammed encouraged us to work even more.”

Al Rahoomi had just returned from completing Umrah and was surprised to learn of the award.

“What Shaikh Mohammed gave me today, he gave me something and we are working from his heart.”


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