The Faraj Fund also supports families of prisoners, As many as 910 families of prisoners have received support since 2009. Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News Archive

Abu Dhabi: “When you have a deadly disease, you may die once. But if you are in debt, you are dying several times in your life,” a senior official has said here, highlighting the scourge of indebtedness.

Major-General Dr Nasser Lakhrebani Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Board of the Faraj Fund, a UAE charity helping prisoners, told Gulf News that he has seen numerous people and their families troubled by debt due to bad decisions.

Thousands in jail get help from Faraj Fund

He said this while explaining that the fund gives priority to help prisoners in debt or similar financial problems that cause more mental stress than other problems.

“The family [of a prisoner] may not have money for food and paying rent. That’s why we help them.”

Having seen experiences of many people, he warns — especially youngsters — to be cautious about money and taking big financial decisions without due diligence.

Nearly half of UAE residents still in debt

The official said has seen many people saddled with mounting financial burdens after starting a business without proper planning and preparations.

“I admire people who are rich, not because of their money, but because of their hard work,” he said.

Avoid get-rich-quick mindset

But, some people want to get rich quickly.

And when they see some people succeed in business, they try to emulate the person — not knowing the big hurdles faced along the way.

“But in reality, the road to success takes a lot of hard work.”

He advised young Emiratis to take help from organisations such as Shaikh Khalifa Fund, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Fund to Finance Innovation, and Mohammad Bin Rashid Fund for SME (Small and Medium Enterprises), which help them do a feasibility study of a new business.

Maj-Gen Al Nuaimi suggested one should work as an employee in a business if he or she wants to start one.

He shared his own experience of realising his dream of establishing a zoo in Abu Dhabi.

“As a senior official with government, it doesn’t mean I know everything. I had to learn it [about zoo].”

Therefore, he joined a course in zoo management and worked for six months in a zoo in the UK while doing his PhD in Child Protection from London Metropolitan University.

Love of animals

His Emirates Park Zoo and Resort in Al Shahama in Abu Dhabi successfully celebrated its ninth anniversary on November 7, 2017.

“People are tired of spending their time in shopping malls alone. Children are glued to their electronic gadgets. Such children will become selfish without knowing how to share with others. When they interact with animals, they share certain emotions.”

He thinks animals can link the new generation with nature.

“With modernisation, we lost touch with nature as we are confined to big villas and apartments. We abandoned animals who have been our partners for centuries.”

He realised this from an experience in the family: When his little niece saw a goat urinating, she said the goat had a leak in its stomach. “She does not know it despite being a child in a family that was Bedouin in the past.”

He said children growing up with pet animals would have better mental capabilities.

“When a child brings up a chicken or rabbit, he or she learns to take up many responsibilities. They experience both hope and frustration. A chicken hatches an egg but a cat comes and eat it. Or when the pet is sick or even it dies, they learn to cope with loss, sadness or disappointment.”

When they grow up, when a family member dies, they can handle that loss.

The late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan knew the value of animals and encouraged Emiratis to keep camels.

“This is our tradition. I have many camels inherited from my ancestors. It is my responsibility to take care of them. Our grandfathers travelled in the desert with their help. Nobody helped them in those times, except camels that gave milk and companionship,” Maj-Gen Al Nuaimi said.