Sunday, 29 June 2014

A beacon of hope amidst the hopeless

On a plane headed back to the United Arab Emirates I found myself staring at the airplane’s route map, and as the tiny plane icon inched its way across I couldn’t help but sigh at the state in which all the Arab nations we flew over are in. All the bloodshed, suffering and mindless wars, all that sectarianism, extremism and hate we were flying over.  If I closed my eyes I could almost hear the sobbing of the Iraqi mother and the sighs of the Syrian refugee, I could swear I heard the cries of help from all the helpless souls of my nation. 

Yet as my plane hurtled through their dark skies, parting the clouds above their heads and leaving behind nothing but a trail of smoke, I realised that I am the one who is truly helpless. For I cannot wipe the tears of that Iraqi mother nor can I console the Syrian refugee. I cannot bring back this woman’s child or make a promise that this man will return home once again. I can only write of their sorrow and remind you all that their grieving souls need our voices to speak for them. 

Touching down on this great land, which stands as a beacon of peace amid the chaos, I pray may God bless the UAE and all the people who have chosen to make it their home and protect the Arab world.Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon and Yemen... our Arab nation is haemorrhaging before our eyes. We continue to watch as great plans of divide and conquer are being realised and remain helpless as people of this great nation are being dismissed as collateral damage. Civilisations have been demolished and culture is being desecrated faster than I can write these words. The horror of it all is paralysing and yet we should not be still. We must act, we must shout and bring aid to those of us who suffer, for the pain of our fellow Arabs is bound to hurt us. We are one for better or worse and that should always be where we stand. 

As my plane approached its final destination and I glimpsed the flickering lights of my home I heard the words of its founder echo. The late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan was the man who believed in unity and built his country as an example that such unity can be harmonious as well as powerful. The United Arab Emirates today stands monument to his words, “We believe in National, Gulf, Arab and Islamic unity. There is no doubt that our faith in the power of unity shall not waiver.” 

Landing in the UAE fills me with hope, for this country along with its current leadership continues to heed Sheikh Zayed’s words, coming to aid all those in need. 

In 2013, the UAE has jumped 18 points to become the world’s largest donor of official humanitarian assistance, actively supporting its Arab neighbours and the rest of the world. Proving that it is not the geographical size of a nation but its intentions that dictate its place in history. While some nations in the region continue to meddle in other countries’ affairs spreading hatred and inciting holy wars, the people of the UAE and its leadership carry a message of peace and respect for all faiths at a time when such ideas seem far-fetched. The general outlook of the UAE is to fight this hatred with productivity and put out the fires of destruction with a flood of hard work and resilience. 

The UAE’s footprint has been a positive and productive one, holding on to the dream of true Arab unity that rises above corrupt political agendas and financial gains, Arab unity that stems from mutual respect for one another and the realisation that no amount of weapons or fleeting alliances can bring absolute power like the one which unity provides.

This article was published in The Gulf Today newspaper on 29th June, 2014 http://bit.ly/1oeO8G9
Appeared in Arabic in Al Khaleej newspaper here  http://bit.ly/TH5G2W 


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