I once read that people who grow up becoming great and influential had the chance to meet leaders with those attributes at least once earlier in their lives. By directly listening to what those leaders have to say and feeling the positive vibes of their presence, we receive a greater impact that would be engraved in our minds and reflected in our actions.
Speaking of great influential people, we’ve all heard of Bill Gates’ visit to Abu Dhabi a few of weeks ago; as the national media was generous in highlighting that. Gates gave an impressive keynote speech at Abu Dhabi Media Summit where he spoke of his experience in technology and media and was later received by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, to give a speech about philanthropy as the co-chair of his philanthropic foundation.
I had the honor of being invited to attend the lecture given at Sheikh Mohammed’s Majlis and I found it to be both informative and inspirational.
As I left the Majlis, I had a strange feeling of refreshment and uplifting and felt a great desire to do something; to contribute. I could also see the fascination on the attendees’ eyes and the shining smiles on their faces. It was certainly an evening to remember.
The lecture Gates gave was good but it wasn’t something he said that left us all captivated; it was a comment that Sheikh Mohammed added as Gates finished what he had to say.
Since the lecture was mainly about giving and philanthropic efforts, Sheikh Mohammed shared with us a story about the same topic commemorating our late father, the first ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed (God bless his soul).
To begin with, we were amazed by the fact that Sheikh Mohammed asked for the microphone to speak. All eyes glittering, we were staring at him admiringly, waiting impatiently to be nourished by his wise words and then the Majlis paused in silence.
His Highness kicked off his comment by graciously directing his talk to Bill Gates saying: “Bill, do you allow me to speak in Arabic?”
We then heard the magnificent story about a lesson Sheikh Mohammed learned from the late Sheikh Zayed.
Although I hoped for more exposure on the story, I found it commendable enough that it was on the news, a few op-eds, and heavily shared on Twitter as well.
The National, one of the few national newspapers that highlighted the story wrote:
“Sheikh Mohammed told the audience about a visit to Tanzania in the late 1980s. His late father, Sheikh Zayed, founder of the UAE, asked the Crown Prince about the situation of the people.
“He asked me, ‘What did you do for them?’ I told him, ‘I did not do anything for them. They are not Muslims’. He then grabbed my hand and looked me in the eyes for 10 seconds and said: ‘The one who created you is the one who created them’.”
Sheikh Mohammed then asked what he could do to help, and his father suggested he build a well.
“Now we have done 29 wells. There are 27 villages where families live. Each one has a well, a clinic and schools.”
Sheikh Mohammed pointed out that “Bill Gates is not a Muslim” and yet he has helped three Muslims countries to eradicate polio.
“He spends two billion dollars on Muslims,” the Crown Prince said. “This is a beautiful project that he should be thanked for, and I believe we are very lucky to be part of it.
“I would like to thank my friend Bill for this initiative.””
It was an anecdote we all felt honored hearing directly from Sheikh Mohammed. I was personally close to tears as I listened to him speak about Sheikh Zayed. We believed there was a lesson not only about the amplifying result of giving, but also about tolerance to people of all faiths and races. Besides that, we were also inspired by the courtesy and modesty of Sheikh Mohammed when he asked for permission –in his own Majlis– to speak.
Beyond all that, there was one statement by Sheikh Mohammad which enlightened me the most; One that I believe held the greatest meaning and I was surprised to see that neither the media nor any of the op-eds or tweets had noticed that.
Just after telling us about the impact the 29 wells had on the people in the villages, His Highness paused for a second, slightly raised his forefinger, and said: “One well.”, then paused again while still looking at us.
Goosebumps was what I felt after hearing this. “His Highness is teaching us something here”, I thought to myself. “All those wells, the clinics, and the schools that changed people’s lives would not have happened had Sheikh Zayed not asked for that ‘one’ well to be built”, I continued to think to myself.
The message was: a great impact starts with one step.
Those messages are not only worth sharing, but also worth living by. The capture of such moments and messages by great leaders make us the great influential people we can become.
May God protect our great leaders; their wisdom continue to inspire us and may He give us the strength to pay them back by serving, contributing, and adding value to our country.
Founder of @BetweenTheSips -a social media initiative that moderates social conversations. Alanoud’s passion is public speaking and designing infographics, reading and researching.
Through “Beyond Inspiration”, Alanoud aims to share personal experiences, struggles, and aha moments that can spark a flame within the reader to reach their full potential.