'If we don't serve UAE, who will?' Meet Emirati grandma who went viral for sweeping Abu Dhabi streets

Um Saeed calls on all mothers and seniors to set a good example for younger generations


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Fri 22 Dec 2023, 5:42 PM

Last updated: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 3:36 PM

Emirati grandmother Um Saeed never expected to receive any recognition for cleaning up the streets of Abu Dhabi during the last UAE National Day celebrations. After all, she did it out of love.

"What I did was something personal to show my love and gratitude to my country and its land,” Um Saeed told Khaleej Times.

Captured by social media influencer Shadi Shawqi, a video of the senior Emirati and her grandsons made the rounds online — eventually reaching the office of Abu Dhabi's Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT).

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Moved by the Emirati woman's dedication, the DMT recently launched a community campaign in her name — the Um Saeed initiative — encouraging the public to do their bit to keep the emirate clean and green.

Um Saeed was over the moon when the authorities took notice of her efforts, calling her up on stage as the initiative was rolled out.

"I want to express my happiness for this recognition – it’s like a badge of honour for me. It was very unexpected," she told KT.

Besides expressing her love for the country, Um Saeed also wanted to show her grandsons how to keep the country clean.

"I wanted to give my grandchildren a practical lesson in patriotism and highlight the importance of being proud about preserving Abu Dhabi’s appearance," she said.

Seniors have to lead by example for younger generations, she added. "If we don’t serve our country, who will?"

“I’d like to call on all mothers to lead by example through actions, not just words," she said.

She also urged schools to do more to instil love for the UAE in the youth.

"(Schools should) replace awareness sessions with practical activities that nurture a sense of patriotism in younger generations. This will inspire them to take active steps in preserving the beauty of our country, and for these actions to be ingrained in their personalities,” Um Saeed said.


Shared commitment, responsibility

Explaining the new community campaign, Dr Jamal Al Kaabi, acting undersecretary at the DMT, said: “The Um Saeed Initiative aims to inspire the public by emphasising the impact of individual choices."

“By highlighting the significance of responsible decisions, the initiative encourages citizens, residents, and visitors to become stewards of Abu Dhabi’s public appearance, fostering a shared commitment to preserving its beauty.”

Dr Al Kaabi said fostering a community-wide attitude of responsibility will encourage the public to uphold the Emirate’s public appearance.

“Through awareness campaigns, community involvement, and highlighting the beauty of Abu Dhabi, we seek to create a shared commitment among the public to actively contribute to preserving the Emirate’s cleanliness and charm.”

Dr Al Kaabi noted that community members can become role models by embodying the principles championed by Um Saeed.

“Taking proactive steps in responsible actions, sharing personal experiences, and focusing on the positive outcomes of these actions, individuals can inspire others to adopt similar behaviours,” he underlined. “Through leading by example and actively promoting a sense of pride in preserving Abu Dhabi’s public appearance, individuals can contribute to a cultural shift where responsible actions create a ripple effect of positive change within their social circles.”

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