Long-time expats share lessons they learned from UAE

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Long-time expats share lessons they learned from UAE

Many are grateful for the culture of tolerance that made people from different parts of the globe feel at home.

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Mon 25 Nov 2019, 8:44 PM

Last updated: Mon 25 Nov 2019, 10:53 PM

Long-time UAE expatriates of all nationalities have inspiring stories to tell - from running a flourishing business to pursuing a dream career - and they said they owe all their success to the opportunities the country has given them.
As the UAE gears up for its 48the National Day, Khaleej Times gives you a glimpse of the country through the eyes of the expats who have been living here for decades now.
Many are grateful for the culture of tolerance that made people from different parts of the globe feel at home. For women, a safe environment made it one of the most desirable places to live and work in. And for entrepreneurs, the UAE is a land of endless possibilities.
Telling stories of how the Emirates' cultural landscape has shaped them as individuals and leaders of their communities, a number of expats shared the lessons they learnt from the UAE.

'Respect everyone'
Ram Buxani,  chairman of ITL Cosmos Group, Indian expat
60 years in the UAE
"The UAE's development in the last 35 years is unlike anything I've seen before. The way the UAE celebrates its National Day is a matter of pride for every resident and something other nations can learn from. Some 200 nationalities are living here, and everyone has immense respect for each other. These values set by the UAE leadership is inspirational."
'If you have a vision, go for it'
Houda Naji, owner of a digital agency, Moroccan expat
20 years in the UAE
"Living here has made me a very independent and strong-headed person, and that's what helped me establish my business. It is easy to become a business person in the UAE, even for women. I've learnt from the UAE's leadership that if you have a vision, go for it. In about 30 years, the country has achieved so much. If they can build an empire out of the sand, we can do it out of hard work."
'Treat others like family'
Shamsudheen KV, founder-director of Barjeel Geojit Financial Services, Indian expat
49 years in the UAE
"I landed in Dubai on July 20, 1970, on a visa issued by the Trucial State Council. After working six years in a private firm, I joined the UAE Defense Forces, where I worked for 20 years. My service there taught me how to live with different nationalities and different faiths as one family. During my stay in UAE, I worked as a bridge to bring businessmen to the UAE from India. I would tell them, 'If you want to live in a peaceful country without fear, if you want to set up a successful business, and get good returns to your hard work, then the UAE is the place for you'." Shamsudheen has also been an active social worker, teaching Indian expats the value of saving and financial planning.

'Embrace every culture'
Casey Shannon, actor, Irish expat
14 years in the UAE
"Here in the UAE, everything is possible. It is wonderful how you can walk down the streets and have access to a Lebanese or a sushi restaurant. Every culture is under one roof. The UAE embraces every culture, and with a great deal of professionalism. I speak to cultures where I thought I'd never mix with. For example, I didn't know any Lebanese back home, same for Pakistani, Indian, Australian, or Chinese. Here, I can learn their way of life."
'Make the most of opportunities' 
Ursula Manvatkar, filmmaker, founder and managing director of Medulla Productions, Indian expat
21 years in the UAE
"I came from a small town in India, and though I initially faced a cultural shock, I came to realise that Indians and Emiratis share a common set of values. This makes it comfortable for every Indian. 
I blended well into the UAE society. It has a spiritual and balanced culture that is not extreme. 
I also enjoy a tremendous amount of freedom. In 21 years, I love the number of opportunities that have come my way. The UAE has influenced me a great deal to practice honest business practices, and it is safe for women. It is also a very clean country."

Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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