Tribute to excellence

DUBAI — For the select brigade of 'unknown soldiers', who were recently honoured by the Dubai Government for excelling in various spheres of activity, the award which includes a citation and Dh50,000 in cash couldn't have been more appropriate or better timed.

By Our Staff Reporters

Published: Tue 22 May 2007, 8:29 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:26 AM

The 26 winners, who were presented the award by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, are still in a state of disbelief that they have won the prestigious Dubai Government Excellence Programme Award.

Khaleej Times spoke to a few winners, who recounted their emotions, their sense of euphoria and achievement, and also talked about their future plans and ambitions. Here are some excerpts from the brief interviews:

Inspired to work even harder

Forty one-year-old Shuaib Mohamad Al Awadhi, the head of the Cemetery Services Unit at Dubai Municipality, who was recognised for his 16 years of dedicated service, says, "I have a few loans and I will use the money to repay my debts." Similarly, young Nasser Mohamed Abdul Rahim who is a Sergeant with the Dubai Police is quite elated. "I feel good and I am very happy. I still cannot believe I was selected for this prestigious award. I am building a new house and this money will definitely come in handy." Rahim, who has got the award for his spotless 17-year service record, says, "Though as part of my work I do see the Shaikh regularly, for the first time I saw him at such close quarters. The Shaikh mentioned he wanted me to win this award every year and I am now inspired to work even harder." He added his proud daughter has not stopped 'bragging' to her friends about his award.

A fresh lease of life

The award means much more to Sayed Sulaiman Makhdoom, a cleaner with Dubai Municipality. The 42-year-old from a small town in Tamil Nadu in southern India, had made his way to Dubai five years ago, after he lost his home and his savings. Speaking in his mother tongue, he could hardly believe that he had won this cash award. "I came to this country after losing everything. My family was heartbroken when we lost our livelihood. But this country and the Shaikh have lent me a helping hand. Now, I will build a new house," says the excited Tamilian. Makhdoom says he has been given a fresh lease of life and is planning to take a flight to India to surprise his wife, who still doesn't know he has won Dh 50,000.

Being physically challenged hardly deterred Najiba Hassan Al Houseni from imparting her duties diligently. A messenger at the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department, it was her determination that made her acquire basic computer skills and also obtain a bachelor's degree from the College of Islamic and Arabic Studies, Dubai. On being selected for the award, she says, "Maybe I shall start something for others like me."

Noor al Haq Ashraf, another jubilant winner, works at the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department and is responsible for the ‘Hijri’ calendars in addition to setting prayer timings. The 48-year-old Pakistani says he has a shortlist of 40 people on whom he plans to spend his prize money.

For Mohamed Hassan Ghareeb, an Emirati Information Administrator at Dubai Municipality, this award is priceless. "I owe this to office colleagues. They have always helped me because my eyesight is not so good." Amna Salem Yaqoot, a messenger in the Department of Health and Medical Services, is equally overjoyed at receiving the award. .

A home away from home

A Sergeant with Dubai Police, Saleh Musaad Al Amari, another awardee, is from Yemen and has been living here for the past 38 years. "When I first came to the UAE, I felt very much at home because of the similarities it shares with my motherland," says the officer.

Salem Khalfan Al Hataly, a messenger at the Dubai Autism Centre, believes that money is not everything. He is more ecstatic about having met the Dubai Ruler. "I don't think about money. I work long hours and I work hard. And now I feel so honoured as well," he says excitedly.

Similarly, 53-year-old Sultana Abdul Ahmad, who came to the UAE 26 years ago still cannot believe that she got an opportunity to shake hands with the Ruler of Dubai.

An Indian from Hyderabad, she lost her husband nine months ago. "I have been working at Heritage Village for a long time now. The fact that I got to meet Shaikh Mohammed himself is bigger than anything. I could not sleep that particular night. It is much bigger than the money that I have got. I plan to use some of it for my daughter's wedding," she said.

Twenty-three-year-old Idrees Al Karaaj, an Iranian national working as a messenger at Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, has a more 'ambitious' plan. "I think it's time I got married. I would use a chunk of my award money for my marriage. I never expected to get any such cash award. I have seven brothers and will also spend some of it on them. I also plan to go to 'Umrah'," he added.

A dream come true

Mijren Syed Abdulla Mijren, a UAE national who works at the Dubai Civil Defence department said: "Just standing next to His Highness was a dream come true," he said.

Mijren added that he had long been dreaming of building to build a house. "I will now construct a house with all basic comforts with my prize money."

Abdullah Mohammed Abdulfatah, a Jordanian who works as an administrative writer in the Dubai Courts said he would be using the money to provide quality education to his two children. "After 34 years in service, the feeling of getting a recognition is a great feeling in itself," he said.

Abdulla Al Hamadi, a UAE national working as a driver at the Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation also said that he would be marrying off his children with the money. "It was so very unexpected. I am still dreaming I suppose," he added wistifully.

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