A citizen's diary

How the UAE leadership enables and inspires people to be the best version of themselves

As a child, I was taught that my second father figure was “baba Zayed”, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the Nation.
As a child, I was taught that my second father figure was “baba Zayed”, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the Nation.

Rasha Abu Baker

Published: Thu 2 Dec 2021, 3:39 PM

As an Emirati, I grew up knowing that I belonged to two sets of families — my immediate, biological family, and a second one, which is just as significant, that I like to call my ‘adoptive’ family, the leaders of the nation and the UAE government.

As a child, I was taught that my second father figure was “baba Zayed”, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the Nation, and my second mother figure was his wife, “Mother of the Nation” Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak.

Today, I am a grown woman, yet this affinity and loyalty to the leadership is unwavering under the protection of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

There is good reasoning behind why I feel this way.

I certainly do not consider myself impressionable, a conformist or sycophantic. In fact, I am quite the opposite.

I have always been a “rebel” since my childhood, always questioning the norm and higher authority. I know my own parents had a hard time keeping me in check in a way that they regarded as appropriate back in the day.

Yet, this connection with my adoptive family is no doubt a unique and incomparable experience. It hasn’t always been straightforward or even obvious to me, but it was a constant in my life, a sturdy relationship that I grew to understand, respect and cherish.

How could you not when you have leaders who are reliable, always on your side, believe in you, and are your ultimate source of inspiration?

When you have leaders whose own sense of aspirations surpass any other, whose achievements and humanitarian stances have become a source of great admiration for people all around the globe?

Loyalty is an intrinsically human characteristic, based on emotional attachment. Any leader with insight into the human heart and who possesses sensitivity towards the dreams and aspirations of others will successfully nurture and win their respect and devotion.

The constant for me has been, and still is, the sense of immense security I feel daily, just as it is for millions of people in the UAE — whether Emiratis or residents.

Like most Emiratis, I grew up feeling that no matter how good or bad things may turn out for me, I was still respected, appreciated, and acknowledged.

I knew I was loved unconditionally by my leaders — they would look after me, forgive my flaws, catch me if I fall, and empower me to create a happy and successful life.

That level of support and benefit is offered at all levels and runs through all aspects of life, such as high-quality free healthcare, tax-free income, government-funded housing, free education, and even scholarships provided for those who want to pursue higher education abroad, alongside Emiratisation and business and leadership programmes, and improving legislation for everyone.

The government has been ardent and consistent in empowering men and women of our young nation in its quest to create a population that is educated, self-sufficient, independent and creative.

The objective being to ensure that they can build a sustainable future and take on the challenges and opportunities of the next 50 years. No wonder, an individual’s sense of duty heightens; there is much to live up to and achieve.

In many ways, it is like having the perfect parents who are resilient, supportive, encouraging and want only the best for you, and you do not want to let them down: and just as you would expect from those who were brought up under the ethics of Sheikh Zayed, as his children.

We feel immense loyalty and a great sense of pride and responsibility towards ourselves and the world.

Emiratis are loyal and patriotic because they feel this country is more than just the nation they belong to — the connection created between the leaders and the people is truly distinctive.

Our leaders have always had an open-door policy with the people; they listen, they understand, and they are willing to help.

As I sit down to write this personal account, reflecting on the nation’s 50th year celebration and the part I’m playing, I know I’m not alone in this feeling of belonging.

I can feel the pride all around me and I expect that the next 50 years will foster the same sentiment in the coming generations of Emiratis, adding to the feeling of belonging to our extended second family.


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