Symbol of hope

Making human connections with people



Emirati Norah Alawadhi and her Israeli friend Ronny Gonen face Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa, draped in their countries’ flags to celebrate the Abraham Accords. — Photo: Abdullah Sameh Houssny/@dubai.uae.dxb
Emirati Norah Alawadhi and her Israeli friend Ronny Gonen face Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa, draped in their countries’ flags to celebrate the Abraham Accords. — Photo: Abdullah Sameh Houssny/@dubai.uae.dxb

By Muhammad Ali Bandial

Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 9:52 AM

Last updated: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 9:54 AM

Sometimes people find themselves propelled into the limelight as they find themselves at the crossroads of a historic occasion. Such was the fate of Norah Alawadhi, a 31-year-old Emirati peace activist/ social media influencer who became the face of the historical peace accord signed between Israel and the UAE. After the picture of her and her Israeli friend Ronny Gonen, draped in the Emirati and Israel flags on the 80th floor on a skyscraper across from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai went viral, people gravitated towards the symbol of hope and optimism it provided. Khaleej Times talked with Alawadhi on her hopes for the relations between the two countries and what she feels the message we should send out to the world.

First encounter

Speaking about her impression of Israel and Jewish people, Alawadhi said that she had never met or encountered any Jewish people or Israelis in her life. However, she decided that there was a first time for everything, and in order to make a good impression, she decided then to be the friendly face and to be the friendly person for Jewish people and Israelis on social media and in real life.

Raising awareness

Finding inspiration from the recognition has made Alawadhi realise the responsibility to raise awareness and she has taken it seriously. She educates people on the UAE and the moderate version of Islam that is followed in the country to project a friendly, open and welcoming image. She said that she is following in the footsteps of the UAE leadership and her parents in being an open-minded person and connecting with people on a human level. She said that when she decided to become a social butterfly she did not want to keep a closed mind and did not reserve judgement on other people’s views.

Communication

Alawadhi said that when you strip down people from their status, religion and background you are left with just a human who has a heart and a soul just like everyone else. She also believes people can change when having a proper conversation “Even with disagreements we can still live together” she said. All it takes is an open mind and acceptance for the other’s point of view.

To make her point, she gives the example of the UAE, “In the UAE we have over 200 nationalities and we all coexist and we have tolerance, that is something the world can take from my home in order to gain and achieve world peace.”

Making Connections

Alawadhi has been working hard nonstop for over a year to connect people and bring them together through opening channels of communication and bringing hope. Because of her passion, she was recently featured in the newspaper Algemeiner Jewish 100 alongside her country’s leaders.

Speaking about it, she said “It is an honour to have my name on the list with my leaders and on a list I didn’t know anything of, but since I am being recognised for being a human and spreading humanity following my leaders there is nothing more I could ask for. I am happy and it makes my heart so full and warm that I can influence people and show people what my beautiful home the UAE is really about and to show the whole world what the right Islam is. If you want to experience peace, please visit my country, the place that holds my heart, my home the United Arab Emirates.”


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