Nasser and I became friends while I was an expatriate American, employed in the United Arab Emirates. My wife and I lived there for 28 very enjoyable and fulfilling years.I would often encounter Nasser at the majlis* of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, a member of the royal family of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Nasser wrote and published this article while he was associated with Al Ittihad newspaper.

This translation, by another Arab friend, is a bit rough but it “gets” the article quite well.

Column 8

Role Models

Nasser Al-Dhaheri, Emirati writer and journalist.


Geography cannot separate man from his human identity, and no man with thinking mind, a keen sense and an awareness of others can be affected by advertising, ideology and propaganda. A high-principled man always follows his mind and sense; they are his guide for doing good deeds and achieving happiness for himself and for others, regardless of his religion and beliefs. Religious, national and sectarian differences often prevent from achieving humanitarian goals.

However, there are many people who serve as role models, because they have passion for charitable contributions that help develop man and improve his life. Such people establish charitable societies and institutions that foster education and health, provide job opportunities, develop communities, fight poverty, establish peace and bring happiness for one and others. Everywhere in the world, there are benevolent people who do goodness regardless of their race, citizenship or religion. A man who guides others to make charitable contributions is as righteous as the very man who does such contributions.

Stories about charitable contributors take place in many places but they should be told to spread the culture of goodness and encourage people fight injustice and evil and help the poor. “Pat” is an American friendly man who has worked in the United Arab Emirates as a pilot for a long time. He used to love people, and he was loved by all people, too. He has been a hard worker, learning everything by himself. The white hair in his head and chin makes you feel that he had certainly fought in World War II. However, he has a very energetic, vivid and bright look. We often debate with each other about cinema; either he advises me to watch a movie that he had already watched, or I give him the name of a new movie to watch it. Although he is middle-aged, he is has passion for life and hope. I wish for myself to be like that man who is not afraid of growing older. I always think that he is the only man that has managed to make peace with life and put all its problems aside. He has decided for a long time to be optimistic.

We once kidded with “Pat” and said: “What will you do with your wealth while you have no sons or daughters? Just you and your old wife!” He replied calmly and earnestly, without looking at our faces: “I have been thinking for a long time of donating my wealth for the development of education in the UAE.” We all were astonished and did not know whether to laud him or just kiss his forehead and go!

Life will be always good …. as long as “Pat” is there!

Nasir Al-Dhahiri

We have been gone from the United Arab Emirates for two years and are still trying to re-assimilate into the culture of our “roots”. It is not easy. Assimilation is not easy and it’s not insidious. If it were there would be no nationalistic ghettos within the borders of the United States, Europe, and other countries around the world. Adaptation is the fallback position to assimilation. If you can’t assimilate, or re-assimilate for whatever reason, you fall back on adaptation.

Had my wife and I both lost our lives while living in the UAE our will was set up to assist education in rural areas of the country. Since I am confident that the educational system of the UAE will not suffer from the loss of our paltry financial leavings our wills have been rewritten to help others who we hope will use it wisely.

*Majlis refers to frequent councils that take place, usually in the late evenings, where problems are discussed and solved. A tradition from the days when a Sheikh would settle disputes between members of his tribe. I found them to be wonderful social gatherings where business was quietly taken care of in the background.