Golden Jubilee: These Emiratis, expats are celebrating their 50th birthday on 50th UAE National Day

Several expatriates also have their special days coinciding with that of the country that they call home

Photo: File
Photo: File

By Anjana Sankar and Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Thu 2 Dec 2021, 12:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Dec 2021, 12:54 PM

As the UAE marks its 50th year, the milestone occasion calls for double celebrations for many UAE nationals and residents celebrating their personal milestones the same day.

For Fatima Juma, a UAE National from Dubai, her 50th birthday is a double treat as it falls on the UAE's 50th.

Juma says her 50th is truly special as she witnessed the country's journey from the start.

"Growing up in the UAE, I have seen skyscrapers and modern infrastructure rising in the country. But what makes me the proudest is the way UAE managed the Covid pandemic," said Juma, who works in the public sector.

"It was a situation the country had never faced before yet, while the entire world witnessed lockdowns and still are, the UAE announced recovery and insisted on carrying out Expo successfully. They also won the bid to host the biggest museum conference in 2025 and COP28 despite the pandemic. The pandemic management captured what the UAE stands for: how to turn challenges into opportunities, and it did," she said.

Juma said that living in a country that ranked first in numerous indicators and came back even stronger than before gives a compelling message to the entire world that with resilience and determination, nothing is impossible. "That is my takeaway on my birthday that I share with the UAE," said Juma.

A day to celebrate country’s and personal growth

Abdullah, another UAE National blowing 50 candles on December 2, says he waits for National Day every year to celebrate his loyalty and deep love for this country and its leaders.

"On the UAE's 50th anniversary, I celebrate my 50th birthday. It is the time that I celebrate my growth as well the country's, and renew my passion for working harder for the good of this country," said Abdullah, who does not want to reveal his last name.

"Our leaders have always united us towards working and dreaming high for this country. I'm so proud to be born on the day of the UAE's union and witness its growth throughout my life to where we are today," he added.

General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs
General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs

On Tuesday, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai honoured several Emiratis born on December 2, 1971, and whose birthdays coincide with the UAE Golden Jubilee.

Major-General Obaid Muhair bin Suroor, Deputy Director-General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai, said that December 2 is a special day and a memory dear to the heart of every Emirati.

“In the year of 50th, we are pleased to celebrate the birth of the Union. Your birthdays are linked to the history of a great country and a fifty-year-old path of success,” he added.

Several expatriates also have their special days coinciding with that of the country that they call home.

Shamim Yusuf
Shamim Yusuf

‘The hospital I was born in does not exist anymore’

Shamim Yusuf, a business manager at the Al Nahda Centre in Dubai, was born at the Al Maktoum Hospital on December 2, 1971.

“I was born in Dubai on the same day as the formation of the Union,” said Yusuf. He said his mother, Saheeda Yusuf, had her labour pains ahead of his birth on the night of December 1 near the Deira Abra station.

“My parents used to live near that area. They were walking towards the Creek area to have a look at all the buildings that were decorated in celebration of the formation of the Union,” Yusuf told Khaleej Times.

She was rushed to Al Maktoum Hospital at 9 pm, and Shamim was born the following day at noon. “The hospital doesn’t exist anymore,” he added.

“My mother said they did not have to pay for the hospital bills after my birth. The hospital even gave us some baby diapers and supplements for free. My mom would say that there were other locals in the labour ward,” reminisced Yusuf. He added, “My mother remembers the nurses and doctors being very helpful. She remembers a particular nurse Eliamma, who took excellent care of us.”

Shamim’s father, Kalarikkal Yusuf, arrived in the UAE in search of better opportunities in 1970. His mother moved to Dubai a few months later. “Our family is from a village called Tirur in Malappuram. Though dad moved to Saudi and Malaysia in the 80s and early 2000s during our growing up years, he spent most of his time here in the UAE. He passed away here in 2010,” said Yusuf.

Susan Thomas
Susan Thomas

‘No one forgets my birthday’

“This milestone birthday is extra special as I’m celebrating it with the UAE,” said Susan Thomas, a grade 11 and 12 Chemistry teacher at the Our Own English High School, Dubai Al Warqa.

A resident of UAE for 23 years, Susan has worked as a teacher for Gems Education for 15 years. “I came in 1998 to join my husband in the UAE, and that’s when my journey with this great country began.”

Mother to a daughter who is in Grade 10, Susan spent every birthday celebrating with the UAE. “We go out to have a good time with my family and friends to the many places in the city. No one forgets my birthday easily, and everyone makes sure they give me a call,” said Susan.

“During the National Day holidays, wherever you go, it is wonderful. We would go for Dhow Cruises, and sometimes we go to other Emirates. We make it a point to go out and tour the country,” she added.

Celebrating 50th wedding anniversary

Muttawa Poonawala arrived in Abu Dhabi 48 years ago and believes his life is intrinsically linked to that of the UAE.

“This December is auspicious for the UAE as it completes 50 glorious years of progress, prosperity and peaceful existence. A personal co-incidence is that my wife Fakhera and I are celebrating our 50th Wedding anniversary on December 28, 2021. Moreover, I was born on December 24, 1944,” said Poonawala, a businessman and one of the first subscribers of Khaleej Times.

He says the excitement he had for the new place when he had landed in Abu Dhabi 48 years ago is still going strong.

“I have lived the most of 77 years of my life in the UAE. When we think of home, we think of the alleyways of Abu Dhabi, waves crashing on Corniche and the wafting smell of shawarma. The UAE is our home and will always be the finest place to live in the world. We are extremely grateful to have witnessed the growth of the country from sand dunes to skyscrapers,” he said.

Dr Sadashiva Somayaji
Dr Sadashiva Somayaji

Dr Sadashiva Somayaji, an orthopaedic surgeon at NMC speciality hospital Abu Dhabi is also celebrating his 50th with the UAE.

“I came to Abu Dhabi in 2008 along with my Kaplana in 2008 without knowing much about this country. But now I own a house here, and this is our home,” said Somayaji, a Golden Visa holder.

“I don’t have any special plans for my birthday celebrations. It is special to see the nation celebrating on my special day,” he said.

More news from Year of the 50th