Baby steps towards a brighter future

October 31, 2011

Fareed Hassan, the former editor-in-chief of Al Waqt, a Bahraini daily that has now ceased publishing, said he owes a lot to the UAE and will always be grateful to the country and its people.

“I was a witness to how the nation was built. I was there when it was happening,” he said.

“When I went to work in Dubai as a teacher in 1974, I felt so homesick after only five days that I pleaded with my colleagues in the official Bahraini education delegation to help me get home,” he said. “I could not accept that I would stay in the UAE for several months. I thought there was nothing to keep me there.

“Thank God, my colleagues were much wiser than I was and pressurised me to stay. I was not happy with the attitude, but I put off the idea of going home for a while.”

The “while” for Fareed was eight years.

“I fell in love with a country that was steadily but surely growing at an impressive pace. Everything around me spelled great work with a robust determination and commendable dedication. I saw large parts of empty land turn into lively streets and buildings.

‘Nation-building process’

“It was so good to be in the UAE then. The nation-building process had started and I was glad to be part of it. It is given to very few people to watch in awe the writing of the first chapters of a successful nation,” he said.

He left after eight years, but could not bear to stay away. “I came back as a rookie journalist.”

Years later, Fareed says, “It was like a paradox. I went to the UAE to teach and I was the one who learned from the people and the country. I went to the UAE when it was making its baby steps as a nation. Today it is an advanced country.”

Abdullah Khalid, a resident of Zayed Town, said it was his moral duty to add ‘May God rest his soul in peace’ whenever he told people that he lived in Zayed Town. “There is no way I can mention the name of this great leader without paying tribute to the man,” he said.

The neat-looking town in central Bahrain was a housing project financed by Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Its first phase was inaugurated in 2001 and featured 273 homes, a park and play area.

The two-storey three- and four-bedroom homes were designed to reflect the heritage of Bahrain and the Gulf.

High on agenda’

“Housing is high on the government’s agenda and Shaikh Zayed’s benevolence has been highly appreciated,” Khalid said. “He was a special leader and a compassionate man, and we shall always think highly of him. He has done so many good things, in his country, of course, but also elsewhere, like here in Bahrain.”

Jasem Al Sehili, a Kuwaiti national who has settled in Bahrain, has been to several countries. His former job as the head of a Kuwait Airways office enabled him to visit and live in several countries.

Yet, he says his memories of the UAE are loaded with strong emotions and feelings.

“The UAE experiment has been an outstanding model that has set high standards for national unity and integration,” he said.

‘Under one flag’

Jasem Al Mutawa, a retired radio news producer, said that the history of the UAE as a nation has been remarkable.

“Few people believed back in the early 1970s that this country made up of seven emirates would last as a political entity,” he said.

“There were many local, regional and international layers, and the issue could not be seen from one angle only. In fact, the dream of turning the disparate groups of people into one nation under one flag and one leader was so bold that only leaders with a strong charisma could make it a reality.

“The UAE was lucky, very lucky to have Shaikh Zayed to lead it through the formidable challenges associated with nation building in the late 20th century.”



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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