From sugarcane to roses: Meet UAE expat who turned his backyard into a farm in Sharjah

Siddique, who works at Rashid Hospital as a lab technician, says that growing plants became a stress buster for him


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Thu 17 Aug 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 17 Aug 2023, 9:58 PM

When Siddique Arakkal first walked into the bare house in Fayha three years ago, he knew that it was his dream home. Today, he has transformed it into a mini farm. From colourful flowers to nutritious vegetables, he has grown several varieties of plants in his villa including plantain, sugarcane, tomatoes, eggplant and papaya.

When you walk into his villa, you may wonder whether you have strolled into a botanical garden. Lines of potted plants, creepers and flowers are neatly intertwined in the backyard. A beautiful well is situated in the middle of the greenery. A peek inside will reveal dozens of Thilapia fishes.

Siddique, who works at Rashid Hospital as a lab technician, said that growing plants became a stress buster for him. “After a long day at the hospital, the immense amount of greenery and my experiments with different plants helped me relax,” he said. “It also helped me connect with my three children on a different level. Away from screens and all things digital, my wife and I were able to bond with our children over the love for plants.”

A medical practitioner, Siddique’s wife works with him in the same hospital. His elder sons are in university in Ras Al Khaimah while his younger son is a Grade 12 student. The Indian expat is also an animal lover. “We also have a lot of pets,” he said. “We have a total of seven cats. The eldest one is called Maymoona. Then there is Charlie, Momo and others. They are like members of our family.”

In addition to the cats, the family also has 6 chickens, 4 ducks, a Chinese quail, a cocktail bird and a parrot. “I wanted to give my children the same kind of environment that I grew up in,” said Siddique. “And now, they are even more eager than me especially in the care of our animals.”

Holidays are divided

However, the family that bonds over their love for their farm rarely take a holiday together. “Looking after the plants and our animals is a full-time job,” said Siddique. “So, we don’t usually take our holidays together. The longest vacation we have taken together in the last 10 years is 10 days when we went for a wedding.”

During this time, it was a family friend that cared for the animals and looked after the plants. “Even when we went away, we made sure that the animals knew the person who was caring for them,” he said. “Our pets are our family, and we would never leave their care to someone we don’t trust.”

During summers, Siddique goes the extra mile to ensure that his garden stays fresh. “We have sunshade and protection,” he said. “Moreover, we water them very frequently. A lot of plants like bougainvillea survive.”

Space not an issue

For Siddique, space has never been an issue. “Until three years ago, I used to live in an apartment with a really small balcony,” he said. “But space has never deterred me from growing plants. If you have the passion for it, nothing can deter you from gardening.”

According to him, he has learnt several lessons by growing plants over the last 22 years of his UAE life. “Every plant needs its own kind of care,” he said. “Some plants are perennial while others are seasonal.

One of the most challenging plants to grow has been the rose. “Rose is highly temperamental plant,” he said. “You need to maintain the temperature perfectly for it to grow well. Also, since rose comes from various countries, you will never get the same kind of rose again. There will be variations in colour and kind of the plant.”

Now, Siddique is preparing to sow seeds for the winter season. “I will sow the seeds by end of September,” he said. “The garden will be in full bloom by November and December. I am eagerly looking forward to it.”


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