Coming to this country in the 1960s and 1980s required determination, courage and no small measure of good humour. Many who did so left their mark on the UAE, writes James Langton
What made this country as it is today? Some of the answers are obvious. The political will and determination of leaders like Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid. The bounty of natural resources such as oil and gas. The ability to think big, with projects like Dubai Dry Docks and Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Alone, though, this does not explain the success of the UAE. Like a photograph that, on close inspection, is formed from many thousands of pixels, so the true portrait of the nation is formed from the multitude of those who live there.
Dr Zulekha Daud, as she is more formally called, came to Dubai in 1964, when the emirate was still part of what were known as the Trucial States, and its internal and external affairs were largely controlled by Britain.
In a 50-year connection with the UAE, the daughter of a construction worker was to found two hospitals, several medical centres and a chain of pharmacies.
For more than 10,000 people there is an even deeper connection with Dr Daud – she delivered them as new-born babies. Hence “Mama Zulekha”.
In another, similar, ceremony in April, Sheikh Abdullah honoured the family of Katsuhiko Takahashi. You are forgiven if the name is not familiar, but if you live in Abu Dhabi, Takahashi literally shaped your daily life.
He was the city’s first town planner, arriving in 1967 to realise Sheikh Zayed’s grand vision. There is a story that the Ruler and the planner would walk the then empty sands of Abu Dhabi island as Sheikh Zayed sketched out his vision with a camel stick.
To Takahashi, who died last year, we owe the city’s wide roads, its green parks and the broad sweep of the Corniche.
It is one of the objectives of the Year of Zayed to honour those who made their mark in the development of the Emirates. There is no doubt Sheikh Zayed himself would have approved.
Full article: The National