The Year of Zayed: a Timeline of Previous Achievements and a New Year’s Resolution

Maitha AlSuwaidi (@maithaAHS)

Maitha AlSuwaidi (@maithaAHS)

Maitha is a 17-year-old student at New York University Abu Dhabi, majoring in political sciences. She is also an athlete in Sharjah Women Sports Foundation and the UAE’s Archery National Team. She holds an undeniable love for reading, whether it is reading poetry, novels or an endless stream of articles. In her journey of finding herself and her voice, she hopes to inspire several people and spread some good along the way.
Maitha AlSuwaidi (@maithaAHS)

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

How do we express our love and gratitude towards the father of this nation during the Year of Zayed?

Artwork by Khawla AlJassmi (Instagram: @kay1design)

“Great ambitions are inspired by big dreams. Sheikh Zayed dreamed of building a great country –his vision and perseverance built this nation.” – His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum on twitter.

2016 was named the Year of Reading in the United Arab Emirates for the main purpose of building an enlightened society, which in return builds a prosperous country. The people, with the guidance of the supportive rulers of the UAE, successfully managed to revive the nation’s dying love for reading through campaigns, competitions, and other opportunities. The aim of this incentive was to look back on past achievements in this area, such as the commencement of the yearly Sharjah International Book Fair in 1982 and use that as inspiration to achieve much more. By the end of 2016, the Arab nation witnessed many achievements, one of which was the announcement of the biggest library, named after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid. The library will contain more than 4.5 million electronic, audio, and paperback books.

2017 was announced as the Year of Giving, the year of humanitarian incentive, in this year a giant helping hand of the Arab nation was extended to every country, community, or person in need. It is the year when Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid’s tears fell along with ours as Nawal AlSoufi delivered her speech in the Creators of Hope competition. That was a moment I will never forget and a moment that planted in everyone within this community a desire to do more good by the day, even if just through a smile or a friendly greeting.

On the fifth of August, HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan declared 2018 to be the Year of Zayed. While both the Year of Reading and the Year of Giving were rather specific in their purposes, the Year of Zayed is much broader in terms of its objective.

Baba Zayed, as we affectionately call him (may he rest in peace), was a man of many good deeds and innumerable accomplishments. He built a nation out of nothing and empowered this nation. He provided aid and assistance to other Arab, Muslim, Non-Arab and Non-Muslim nations and supported those in need. He loved his people – “his children” as he liked to call them – unconditionally and paved the road to a good life for them. Now, it is time for us to continue building what he started and to show our utmost gratitude towards everything he has done for us.

Like how Baba Zayed excelled and left his fingerprint in various fields, our objective in the Year of Zayed must be inclusive of all those different fields, as well. In terms of education, he considered the youth to be the real fortune of the nation and encouraged them to complete their education, in order for this nation to prosper. To keep this legacy alive, we must continue to not only inspire the future generations to learn about the value of education, but also to push them to pursue their own interests.

In Al Ain, Sheikh Zayed prohibited cutting trees, even if they were in the middle of a street. Instead, construction workers had to pave the road around the trees. Sheikh Zayed’s sense of obligation to care for the environment gives us the incentive to do so as well. One prominent way our leaders are following Sheikh Zayed’s vision is through the Zayed Future Energy Prize. This prize incentivizes innovation, renewable energy, and sustainability. The best method to follow and develop those past successes would be firstly by raising awareness regarding climate change and then working towards maintaining a sustainable environment, as well as providing the youth opportunities to work with and learn more about renewable energy.

Sheikh Zayed was also benevolent in many other areas. Some of those are charity, preservation of culture and traditions, humanitarian missions, and international affairs. In addition, his initiatives were always influenced by his Islamic beliefs.

Baba Zayed was and still is an inspiration to not only the Emirati and Arab nations, but also to the world as a whole. We must, through the Year of Zayed, pay remembrance to his undying memory and express our gratitude through our good deeds and by following his footsteps.


References:

Moral Obligation: Libertarianism vs. Communitarianism

Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4)

Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4)

Jumanah is a Media and Communication graduate from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Her fields of interest lay in the studies of humanities and through her articles she seeks to create a bridge between sociology and social media.
Jumanah Salama (@Juma_nah4)

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Debating the morality of libertarian and communitarian philosophy.

Artwork by Dana AlAttar (twitter: @DanaAlAttar, instagram: @madewithlove.dxb)

It is 1942. The 2nd world war has been plaguing our country for three years, and thousands of innocent lives have already fallen. Every day you wake up with the same question clouding your mind: “Is our town next?” as you hear the bombs thundering nearby while the children cry in horror. “Have the Nazis reached us?” you ask yourself with little hope that the worn out soldiers will come to your need or that your life will be spared.

So, you decide to join the resistance that will take you far away from home. You say your goodbyes to your worried mom and once playful chubby little brother, who was unlucky enough to be born a year into the war, and join the army in hopes of pushing the Nazis out of your country. The town is proud of you and waves farewell as they pray you return a hero.

You will, indeed, return but as a fighter pilot. You return with an assignment to raid your own town, seized by the Nazis like many towns before. In order to retake your town, you will have to drop bombs you once used to hear thundering nearby, but this time you are sure that your family will be killed, and ironically by you. What are you to do? Would you choose to save your town out of the sense of moral obligation or would you choose to uphold your beliefs in cleansing the country of Nazis in the sense of moral independence? This is all the while knowing you will face death if you back out.

This dilemma has been long debated between schools of thought as it is a recurrent situation during the international and civil wars, and raises the question of the morality of actions and the shaping factors of identity.

As individuals in society, we interact by nature through a common language, and we relate to one another by a set of rules and norms that fall under an umbrella of common culture and social system/organization. Societies may generate a sense of affiliation, but they do not create emotional bonds like they do when interacting on a personal and daily basis within a community. Communities are smaller by nature and limited geographically while societies may extend globally and contain multiple communities.

That being said, a community’s impact is more immediate and defining of an individual’s identity, and this is where communitarianism arises to define common good and moral obligation. Moral obligations are unwritten obligations we feel morally accountable for, even when we are not legally bound. Although one may argue from a libertarian point of view that our community does not define our identity, we have the right of self-ownership, personal autonomy, self-directing freedom, and especially, moral independence[1].

The common good and morality of communitarianism surpass independent morality for the sake of identity. However, it is important to keep into account that human beings are emotional by nature and the ability to overcome your emotions in a hugely impacted decision, like sacrificing your family for the greater good of your country, is not the decision of a common or simple man. It is a decision of a person with great determination and radical actions that will, in the long run, allow him to live guiltless afterward, knowing that that sacrifice was in itself common good. It was once said by Eric Hoffer[2], an American moral and social philosopher, that without radical actions there are no new beginnings.


References
[1] Merriam-Webster, dictionary, autonomy, personal autonomy: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/autonomy

[2] Wikipedia, Eric Hoffer: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Hoffer

#BookReview Origin by Dan Brown

Adeeb Nami (@Adeeb_PawsUp)

Adeeb is a marketing student at AUS. He is a voracious reader and a book enthusiast. He first discovered the joy for reading through Enid Blyton’s different stories, specifically the Secret Seven series. He believes in the power of words and communication, which is why he actively seeks out volunteer work, public speaking activities, and literature festivals.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

In the most recent book in the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown, the author takes us on a new adventure whereby a scientist has an earth-shattering discovery. As the title suggests, this discovery is related to the origin of human beings, as well as their evolution.

Our beloved character Robert Langdon is back this year in a brand-new book, Origin, by Dan Brown. It’s been almost two decades since the first book in the series came out, and Brown comes back with a fresh new story that takes place in Spain this time.

If you’ve been following this series, you know that the books in the series don’t follow the same storylines. This time, we have the story of a technological breakthrough by a scientist, a breakthrough that will shatter the way things are done.

We find our main character, Langdon, invited to this exhibition, and a massive crowd of people wait for the reveal. Of course, right from that point, things go in different directions, and we have Langdon on the spot, somehow involved, and trying to solve the mystery.

This book is a huge improvement over its predecessor. It certainly is a page-turner and delves into interesting topics—even though they’re not the most original topics. This time, Brown tackles courageous themes of religion vs. science. And I must say, I was very happy with the way he handled these themes. Throughout his story, he showed us the gray area of both sides, and he resolves the issue with craft, I must say.

However, these positives did not make the whole book for me. Origin, unfortunately, is extremely predictable and overwritten. The problem with Brown’s writing is that it builds up plot elements for far too long, and when he finally reveals it, you are left extremely underwhelmed. Furthermore, complementing the overall themes of the book, I found that he was trying way too hard to be controversial in certain parts of the book. This, unfortunately, took away from the story.

If you’re a fan of the Robert Langdon series, you will enjoy this book. It is a fresh take on the previous books. However, it still doesn’t match up to the standards of Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. The books are very formulaic in general, and you start to predict the different plot elements that are bound to unfold.

I Exist Because I Want To

Lulwa A.M. (@A_Lulwaal)

Lulwa is a growing writer and artist from Kuwait. She holds a BBA in International Management. She is an aspiring philanthropist, an avid reader, an enthusiast for knowledge, a feminist and a cosmopolitan. Her major topics of interest, which are reflected in her articles, include cultural diversity, tolerance, women empowerment, literature, and education. Lulwa also reviews books on her Instagram account.

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Rarely do people think about the reason for their existence and the meaning of their lives. As a result, many do not reach their utmost potential. This article discusses the different reasons for our existence, and how our perception of our lives changes the way we live our lives and affects the world in which we live in.

Artwork by Khawla AlJassmi (Instagram: @kay1design)

I’ve come to the habit of asking people I’ve recently met, especially those who seem to have limited their potential intentionally, “Why are we living on this planet?” At first, they seem puzzled by my question, not understanding the reason of the random words I just blurted out. As my wide-eyed stare persists, most give me the usual quick and logical answer. If they are Muslims, they would tell me that we exist to pray and worship. Others would say, to enjoy life and the rare few would tell me, “I don’t know”. As peculiar as this question might be, it is quite telling about the character of the person in front of me. Although I do tend to prejudge people based on their answers, I still mull over this question and think, “Is my answer correct?” My search for the different perspectives on this matter has led me to see that there is no single correct answer.

Albert Einstein, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, correlates the meaning of life with religion. Einstein asks, “What is the meaning of human life, or of organic life all together?” In response, he states that, “to answer this question at all implies a religion.” The premise of his argument suggests that in order to understand why we were created and, hence, why we exist, we need to acknowledge that there is a creator. From a religious point of view, especially in the monotheistic religions, we were created in order to strengthen a relationship with God by means of worship. For over centuries, civilizations have sought out gods and creators in order to understand where they came from and why they exist. By finding their own religions, their actions and behaviors were altered to abide by the beliefs and the sense of purpose they were given by their respective faiths. Hence, those who believe or are religious, exist in order to devote themselves to God and abide by their religions. Similarly, most religions, especially the monotheistic religions, encourage its disciples to do good and add positive value during their time on this planet.

The concept of adding value is crucial for the continuity and prosperity of life in general. Each human being is part of a global community, where each consumes depleting resources, whether tangible or intangible. It is only fair for each person who consumes to create value by means of producing products, services, ideas and innovations that are beneficial to at least one party in their societies. If no plant, animal, or human produces value, then life will seize to exist, because they are all interdependent. Value comes from talent, passion, persistence, and creativity. In lacking a sense of purpose with this regard, development and advancement will be hindered, and backwardness will lead to chaos. Hence, the creation of value is a two-way process, where one takes and gives back to the community. Value could take the form of money, power, entertainment, time, knowledge, emotions and, perhaps, self-satisfaction from giving.

Self-satisfaction results in and is a result of selfless acts, whereby the good Samaritans do not expect anything in return for their deeds. A good example of this is philanthropy, which consists of one or more persons “who seek to promote the welfare of others”. Steps towards philanthropy are many times hindered by the magnitude of the cause that seems impossible to eliminate. For example, how can one individual or one organization solve the problem of human trafficking on a worldwide or even national scale? Sunitha Krishnan, an Indian activist in the area of human trafficking and the founder of Prajwala, a nongovernmental organization, believed the contrary. She acknowledged that victims of human trafficking are being neglected and blamed for their pasts. As a result, they are not being given an opportunity to reintegrate into their respective societies. Her efforts do not eliminate human trafficking nor reduce it, but they have addressed a crucial part of the problem that has been ignored and is plausible to solve. Due to her efforts, hundreds of women in India continue to live normal lives and many others, like myself, are inspired by her abilities. Hence, the impact of philanthropy resembles a ripple effect that is difficult to contain and limit.

The question of existence is not merely a philosophical concept, nor is it only related to religious beliefs. It is an important factor that determines how we perceive the meaning of our lives and what we do during our limited time on this planet. Some find purpose in faith, others in climbing the ladder of success in their respective jobs, while others find it in philanthropy. But to those who do not have a purpose, answer this question: why are you alive? And to those who do have a defined purpose, answer this: are you reaching your utmost potential to live a happy and useful life? Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Once we understand why we exist, this will change our behaviors; we will become happier and more satisfied. The beauty of life is not to spend money and live in tranquility, but it is the reward after the struggle. We should exist because we want to, not because we must.

4 Lessons From Steve Jobs

Alia Nasser (Instagram: @alyafekri)

Alia is an avid reader, a passionate dreamer, a travel enthusiast, and kind of a lazy writer; this is basically her life in one sentence. She loves writing and it all started with her and a pink journal at 6 years old. Alia has been a constant reader from a very young age as well. She loves telling stories, mostly through writing, but also through pictures as well. Through her writing, she wants to inspire people to be more, to do more. Alia wants to give hope and motivation to people. Everyone deserves to know that their dreams can come true.

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

Four great lessons from one of the most inspiring people of our time: Steve Jobs! May these inspirational lessons be of great use in your life.

Artwork by Hamda AlMansoori (Instagram: @Planet64, twitter: @planetsixtyfour)

The iPhone, the MacBook, the iPad; a few of the stamps left behind by one of the greatest visionaries in the modern world: Steve Jobs, the driving force that brought the company Apple to life. The lessons from his life and his work ethic are endless, as are the reasons to write about him in this article. Jobs wasn’t born a genius of course, he worked hard, and he built himself up from nothing. He dropped out of university to go after what he truly loved to do. It was a big risk, and he took it. He used to sneak into computer courses to learn more. I consider him one of my idols in life. I have read over and over again from people who have worked under him, as well as from his companions, that there will never be another Steve Jobs; another person with a so-called mesmerizing energy that can inspire others to do the best that they could, as evident from the creations of Apple. I chose four out of the numerous lessons to put forward, so let us begin.

“And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matter of the heart, you’ll know it when you find it.” The first lesson is from this quote by Steve Jobs. Love what you do and do what you love. Have a burning passion for what you choose to do because it is that passion that will push you to make your work great. I have seen people drag themselves to jobs that they hate, complaining day and night about how miserable it makes them. You have one life, why spend it in a work that drains your energy and your enthusiasm? It was Steve Jobs’ love and passion for Apple that made him persevere, even when the company was on the edge of bankruptcy. So, follow your passions. Do what you love, and the world will thank you for it.

Here’s the quote for the second lesson: “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” This one is simple; don’t give up, have faith. Life will always throw obstacles in your way, but that does not mean that you should just stop when you hit the first obstacle, or the second or even the third. Persist, and you will make it. Whether you ask successful people you know or study the lives of the inspirational individuals in history, you will notice the same pattern of persistence. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, the company he helped build, but that did not stop him and he did eventually get back in.

On to lesson number three: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Let’s face it; life is short. You have one life to live in this world and you deserve to let yourself live it well. Keep your focus on your voice when it comes to your goals and visions, trust yourself. Many people are so obsessed with what others think of them or say about them, to the point that they unknowingly become slaves of society. All those dreams of yours that you pushed aside, all those ambitions that you dropped because others said you wouldn’t make it, will turn into an ocean of regret inside of you. I have spoken to family members that wish the clock could be turned back, only to do the things that they really wanted to do, but didn’t, because people didn’t agree with it or made fun of it. This is your life; follow your heart, your dreams. It is not worth it to follow the words of others.

Let’s hop into the fourth and last lesson, a very meaningful one; “being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.” I find this one very important, especially nowadays. It is common to find individuals who define themselves by their monetary wealth; but money is as temporary as our human bodies. Some individuals even make it their goal in life; to be the rich or be the richest. If you question Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, you will discover that it wasn’t a desire for money that propelled their lives, it was the passion for their work and a drive to be of service to the world. They wanted to change lives, to leave a bright mark on the world. Steve Jobs also implies in this quote the true meaning of being rich; it isn’t being rich in money, it’s being rich in soul, which is the only thing that will matter when your life comes to an end.

Steve Jobs was a truly inspirational man and I believe his life should be learned from every aspect. I will end this article with one of my most all-time favorite sayings by him, one that he narrated in an old Apple ad:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”