UAE National Day: Meet Dubai-born US senator who pushed for New York’s Emirati Day celebration

UAE's inclusive approach to migrants is an inspiration, US state Senator

New York state senator Kevin Thomas
New York state senator Kevin Thomas

Anjana Sankar

Published: Thu 2 Dec 2021, 2:57 PM

The UAE's multi-ethnic society and its open-door approach to its migrant community have shaped his early life and inspires him to bring communities together in the US, Dubai-born New York state senator Kevin Thomas told Khaleej Times.

"Here is the thing. The US is a melting pot. It is similar to how we have in the UAE. You will see different ethnicities in a classroom. But we (in the US) are not really celebrating every culture the way we should. I want to bring that change," said Thomas who went to St Mary's School in Dubai before moving to the US when he was ten years old.

He said the UAE and the United States are examples of how immigrants can help build great nations.

"We are sharing a planet together regardless of our nationalities or ethnicities. The way the UAE has done it… and the United States too… we opened our arms to immigrants because we know they make the country better… they do so much to bring the economy up. We have entrepreneurs that create jobs and individuals that study hard and contribute back to the country. By opening up and accepting immigrants, our lands will prosper," said Thomas.

The Senator, who was instrumental in pushing a legal resolution in the Senate to declare December 2, the UAE National Day as Emirati Day in New York, said he wanted to give back to the country where he was born.

"I was born in the UAE. I came here and became the first South Asian Senator in New York. I know that UAE likes to do big things, and I wanted to do something for the UAE on the special occasion of its 50th National Day," he said.


He said he will be kicking off the 5K run in honour of the UAE's 50th in Brooklyn, New York, held on December 4.

"It is all about celebrating a country that has shaped my life; a country that is doing so much for the Middle East, to the world and to its own people from all backgrounds. The UAE is a place where lot of other countries are looking to replicate the same model.. be it education, innovation, business, infrastructure," said Thomas over the phone in an exclusive interview on the occasion of the UAE's National Day.

Thomas has vague memories of his growing up years in the UAE, but he recollects how they sing the UAE national anthem on National day. "That used to be a special day in our school."

After moving back to the US and finishing his law degree, Thomas had a second stint with the UAE when he interned at the General Electric in 2010 for three months.

"I have my extended families in the UAE. Dubai is a great place to live and work. I hear a lot about it, and I learn a lot too," added Thomas.

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