From us to you

Making a difference
December is a month of festivities for all of us.

We started boisterously with National Day, with both locals and expatriates taking pride in their contribution to the achievements of the UAE. Now we ready ourselves for a host of social and cultural activities —plays, concerts, exhibitions, and by far my favourite, the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). Mid-month we pause to recollect and appreciate the end of the Haj with Eid, before we start preparing full swing for Christmas, getting our lists full of presents subtly conveyed to parents and other family members. Thereafter, we shift gears again to paint the town red for New Year.

Understandably, with so much to do, one hardly gets time to think of anyone or anything else.

But pause here for a second. Often as young adults we feel that for us to make a real difference to anything we need to undertake extraneous excursions, forsaking our comfort and personal space for a 'higher' purpose. In truth, this is not the case. Your personal day-to-day choices can make more of a difference than picketing outside a corporate organisation on a hunger strike pledging to change the world order. Often it's much simpler than that.

The Kyoto Protocol is an amendment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with an objective of reducing greenhouse gases that cause damage to the environment. Recently signatories of the accord met to discuss things further. Though the effort undertakes the support of countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions within their boundaries, it brings to the fore our responsibility and role as global citizens in helping out.

With a change in weather every conceivable article covering the topics of 'outdoor activities' to 'environment' urges you to ditch the car in favour of walking or cycling to your destination. Grocery stores and shopping malls are racing each other in urging customers to drop the lethal plastic bag for the eco-friendly brown paper bag or the reusable jute bag.

Programmes and parents — in equal measure — are scolding you to turn off the lights when you leave the room, shut down the computer when done, close the tap between brushing your teeth and gargling or reuse and recycle your products. Listen to them. These little things that you do can collectively make a difference to our world.

You own up a country, a tradition, a festival and even a habit with so much enthusiasm. Why not the world you live in?

P.S And if it's one movie you catch this month at the DIFF, make it The 11th Hour (December 11, Mall of the Emirates, Cinestar 12 at 6.30pm). It will open your eyes to what is happening to your world.
Ambreen Noon Kazi
Notes Staff Reporter

An extraordinary man
A land of desert turns to green …
A land of silence turns to roistering …
One man behind all these changes,
One man behind all these differences,
These changes bring the land among other countries …

One country that is, United Arab Emirates
One person that is, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan!
He was a man of notions, perfection, loyalty, love and happiness …
He raised the country high as he could,
He built the country with strong decisions,
He built the country with justice,
He built the country with wise sages,
He built the country with determination and a strong mind …
He was a person of extraordinary habits,
He entered into the hearts of people in the country,
He entered into hearts of people as a father,
He is the father of this country – UAE …
But only memories of our father are left in our hearts,
Now he is one among the twinkling stars,
Gazing down at his family and his country…
Poonam Sethuretnam

Progressive country
As a student I have always wondered what the UAE was and what the UAE is now. Born and living in the UAE for 17 years, I don't seem to miss my home country very much. Those like me who were born in the UAE will agree that the country holds a very special place in our hearts.

Timeline: December 2, 1971. There was nothing. Few malls, few schools and definitely fewer people. December 2, 2007. Dozens of posh malls, populated areas, numerous schools, world's tallest tower and unlimited luxury. Dubai celebrated its 36th anniversary this year. If we look back in time, it seems that we have been in a time machine. If we narrate the true story of the UAE, it seems it's a magical tale and enchanted tale. What was the UAE before? What is it now?

This country has given us so much. Freedom is the first thing it has given its people. Freedom of culture, religion and dress code. We have temples, gurudawaras, mosques and churches here. We can celebrate so many festivals like Diwali, Christmas and Eid. The celebrations are never ending. When I was going to celebrate Diwali, I was thinking of celebrating in India, but when I celebrated here, it was just amazing. It felt as if I was in India, not Dubai.

There is so much for expatriates here. Dozens of the latest Hindi movies are being released in cinemas and lavish premieres are taking place. We also have so many cultural clubs like the Indian club, the Iranian club, the Pakistani club and so on. Now tell me, where else can we get this diversity?

There are tailor made schools for everyone, be it for Indians, Pakistanis, English or the Americans. Sometimes I fear that I might have to go and study abroad for further education, but again this fear is allayed when so many reputed universities are landing here.

The UAE is a perfect example of an accomplished, cultural country where they have rooted their own traditions but have given freedom to others also. Freedom of speech is enjoyed by all and the media is gaining popularity for maintaining social responsibilities.

The fire of creativity is never ending here and each and every individual is striving to work hard. Even in terms of employment the UAE comes first. We've got the world's tallest tower, plush apartments, stylish hotels, and window-laden malls. There's everything! This is the country of our dreams. Today, when I look at these skyscrapers, there's only one thing I say, I am proud to be an Emirate Indian — despite not having a passport.
R. P Singh

Meaning of friendship
Friendship is not just holding hands.

I was going through the article (Friend in need is a friend indeed, November 25) and I found out that these girls have been friends since college and not since childhood. When I read further the most disturbing thing was that they all have to leave each other after their graduation. If one is close why should they leave each other? Won't they be friends forever?

I strongly feel that making friends in Dubai is a waste of time and a waste of money. I have been living here for 25 years and have seen the way people's attitudes have changed. Living in this modern world when one is so busy making money for their bread and butter, who has time for friendship?

The kind of friendship that I now get is discriminatory and mercenary — which I'm against. So if this is the kind of friendship on offer, why not be alone? I can be alone. In fact I am a person who doesn't believe in friends. Seeing people's attitudes here makes me really really upset and wonder as to why people can't get along. Everybody here wants money, and money is not everything.

If you have a clean heart and the mind to understand the other person, then I say that you should go for it. Otherwise it's totally a waste. It is very difficult to get someone who understands you well and who has the same tastes as you. Living in this mercenary world we can't trust anyone. And with all the frustrations from work taking up all the hours who has time to meet with friends!

How many experiences have we read about people who have been cheated for money in spite of being friends for years? Lets all think about it. I'm one of those people who is not greedy for friends just to show ten other people how popular I am! That's not my way — because when people here are rude, how can one make friends?
Mathew litty

Heritage revisited at school
Recently on December 29, Deira International School Dubai celebrated UAE National Day. From a week prior everyone was working including an organisation from school called Parents Teachers Friends Association.

Everyone in the school was excited. Lots of activities were planned. The dress code for the day was Emirati. The whole school was dressed traditionally. It was really amazing. The boys greeting each other and speaking in Arabic. The girls putting henna and flaunting their heavy jewellery. Believe me it was no less than a wedding! This is the first time I have seen a national day event in school, that too at an international school. It feels good to see that even in an international school all cultures and traditions are respected.

No, I am not Emirati, but I surely felt like one on National Day.
We had camels, ponies, falcons, henna painting, various craft stalls, relishing fresh Arabic eateries, traditional tea and coffee, and of course, Arabic dances. I thought I had gone straight into the pages of Arabian Nights. Those 1001 Arabian Nights stories are ever so fascinating.

All in all, it was just wonderful. The whole staff — all the way from the IB co-ordinator to the school's director — was dressed in an abaya and a Dishdasha. Parents were also invited to the event.

I hope that next year, we have the same kind of festivities where I am sure the scale of things will be even bigger!
Anureet Kaur,
Deira International School