Creativity is his forte

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Creativity is his forte

Humaid Saeed Almarri is Dubai Municipality’s Director of Transportation Department. But there is more to him than meets the eye. He is also an inventor, an artist and a collector.

By Farhana Chowdhury

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Published: Sat 18 Jun 2011, 11:28 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:40 AM

Upon entering his office, what strikes one is the base of a medium-sized glass table. The shiny silver-coloured car engine is just one of the many innovative things the official has created out of passion for inventing items out of recyclables.

When he isn’t busy sketching out environmental-friendly solutions to make the city a better place, the director spends his time creating practical pieces of art in his workshop at home or the one on office grounds.

“The car engine is from an old RV (recreational vehicle) caravan that I used for travelling and camping. The engine stopped working one day so I brought it here (Dubai Municipality workshop), and got an idea to make a table. We cleaned it, put aluminium paint on it and added wheels so we can move it around since it’s a big engine. We put the pistons as they are to hold the glass,” he said, pointing to the 10-cylinder vehicle part.

“We are in the business of maintenance so I thought it would be a good idea to reflect the work we’re doing while at the same time it was something I could use in the office. I think this hit the jackpot,” Almarri said, referring to the visit of the Director-General to his room.

A down-to-earth individual with an amicable personality, Almarri started putting his skills, mainly in carpentry, to use when he returned to the UAE in 1985 after studying in the UK. He has built items ranging from home furniture and kitchen cabinets to a mini-play area for his children complete with slides, swings and a treehouse. He said the workshop is like his second home as he spends most of his time making things.

“I’ve always wanted to create something new, work on ideas and something that nobody’s done before. Carpentry projects are like an art but a practical one. When you work on a project, you would want to use that afterwards, or if you’re making it for somebody else, you would want them to be able to use it. I take these reasons into account when I think of something,” he said.

Almarri’s office is decorated with objects made by his own hands including a multi-purpose stationary holder carved out of wood and an off-white paper weight made from used paper compressed into a solid block.

“I believe in preserving the environment. There is a lot of material thrown away and not used. For example, the date tree is part of our (Emirati) history and culture. In olden days, people used to make almost everything from a single tree, even houses and boats, but now they throw away this material. I think there are around 40 million date trees in the UAE but nobody’s using it to its advantage. We (Dubai Municipality) are currently working a project in the workshop where the car body will be made from material that we throw every day. This is like a message to say to everybody that it is possible to re-use most material we throw away,” he said.

Almarri has been involved in a number of projects, both Dubai Municipality-related as well as personal. When asked how he divides his time between the two, he replied, “A lot of people say they don’t have time. They do but don’t know how to use it. If you are well organised, you will find time. And it’s good to keep your mind busy. Just like our body needs exercise, our minds also need exercise to stay healthy.”

Almarri is a man of many hobbies. Apart from reading, sports and travelling around the world, one of his favourites includes his mug collection.

“I’ve have around 700 mugs from around the world. My children also bring them back when they travel to different places. There is one cup I had bought from an antique shop in England that is now worth around Dh70,000. It was a gift given to Queen Victoria back in the days,” he beamed.

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