25 years here, piloting an abra, and he hasn't seen Dubai yet

DUBAI — He has not seen most parts of Dubai despite living here for nearly a quarter of a century.

By Asad Iftikhar Shafi

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Published: Sun 30 Jul 2006, 11:01 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:48 PM

Abdul Rasheed who came to the city from Pakistan in 1982, has been so busy piloting an 'abra' (dhow) on the Dubai Creek that he just could not find time to take in the sights of what is arguably one of the leading tourist destinations in the world.

“I came to Dubai in 1982 and started plying an abra on the Dubai creek. At that time I was young with a lot of energy and had a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders. I used to work for up to 18 hours a day. By the time I got off work I would be too tired to go anywhere except to my room where I ate my food and slept,” reminisces Abdul.

“During my annual holidays I would rush off to Pakistan on the first day and come back on the last day and start work immediately. I followed this routine for 15 years. Due to this I never got around to seeing most of Dubai.”

Talking about his early days when he first came here, Abdul says: “Dubai used to be a very peaceful city. It was full of life but there was a lot of tranquillity. There were very few buildings then. Most of these new buildings around the Dubai creek were built after I came here. All this development has resulted in a mad rush. The traffic is chaotic and people no longer have time for each other. Earlier, people used to be kind and meant well. They used to take time to get to know each other and be helpful as much as possible but that’s all in the past now.”

Life, although initially hard for him, has generally been good. “When I arrived here I used to work on an abra for most hours of the day, seven days a week. I didn’t get much time for myself. One good that resulted from all this was that I was able to save a lot of money and eventually buy my own abra,” disclosed Abdul.

After buying his own abra, Abdul brought his younger brother from Pakistan and they started working in 12 hour shifts. Although he had more free time now on his hands, his habit of going from home to work and back was deeply ingrained in him.

“Now though I have a lot of time on my hands, I still don’t go anywhere. I prefer to spend my time with my friends in my room and those living nearby. I enjoy the company of my friends more than the pleasure one derives from going to different places. My friends keep on mentioning different places to me that have come up in the last many years like Global Village, Jumeirah, Emirates Road, etc but I never got around to motivate myself to visit these places. My friends think that I am weird in this sense but that’s how I am, that’s how I like it and I have no regrets,” says Abdul, a smile lighting up his face.

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