Copy of NAT 231005 Wajadtou Nafsi CE035-1696507954218
Winner Theophilus Efetobome Obie accepts an award with his daughter from Major-General Obaid Muhair bin Suroor, Deputy Director-General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) in Dubai, and Chairman of the Taqdeer Award and Fares Saeed, Chairman and CEO of SEE holding, at the Wajadto Nafsi press conference and Taqdeer Award on October 5, 2023. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: They live among us as unsung heroes, passing by as knights without fanfare, stumbling repeatedly on their way to the top, dusting themselves off and rising stronger. One eye is on Dubai and the other is on the world, with a deep voice echoing: “I found myself”.

These were the words with which workers were honoured at the launch of the third phase of the ‘Wajadto Nafsi’ (I found myself) initiative by Taqdeer Award. Since its inception in 2016 under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, the Taqdeer Award has been recognising hardworking and dedicated workers in Dubai. These workers shared their inspiring personal journeys at a press conference on Thursday, October 5, where it was announced that a new Youtube platform has been launched to share these inspirational stories with the world.

The recipe for success

The workers – all of whom come from humble beginnings – shared their experiences at the special event dedicated to them, and spoke about how their own motivation to succeed matched perfectly with the idea that Dubai is built on – nothing is impossible.

One of the heroes who was honoured at the award is Sohaila Mohamed Ahmed Nasr, called ‘Super Sohaila’ by her colleagues at Eros Group. Her inspiring story was shared with attendees at the event.

At the event, Sohaila spoke about how a person’s grit is just one ingredient in the recipe for success. She said: “You are looking at me as an exceptional worker but the fact is that I have lived in an exceptional place – Dubai, where nothing is impossible. It is no wonder that ‘I found myself’ is how I feel and how my colleagues feel in this good land, sending a message to the world that the greatest asset is the labour force.

“They call me ‘Super Sohaila’ and I am celebrating ‘Super Taqdeer’ as the Award does not stop at just meeting the standards that are required by protocol but bringing the workers to this podium and be awarded.”

Talking about how these individual success stories were, in fact, a reflection of a carefully nurtured society, where different partners come together to create successful individuals, Sohaila said: “I loved working hard and cooperating with my colleagues, so they loved me back and they stood by me through all the challenges I faced and helped me become a role model. It is not just a personal effort but it is a reflection of what this society has offered. My story will be one of the thousands of stories that will be available for all to see and hear due to the good efforts by Taqdeer Award. We look forward to more such stories in the future because in the UAE there is no impossible … all challenges can be overcome and all journeys can be completed.”

At the end of her speech, she also had a special surprise waiting for her – her eldest son, who is a Person of Determination, received a sponsorship from SEE Holding, the partners for this edition of the Wajadto Nafsi programme, to study at Sanad Village, the region’s largest rehabilitation center for People of Determination, which is located in The Sustainable City.

Copy of NAT 231005 Wajadtou Nafsi CE040-1696507936201
Sohaila Mohamed Ahmed Nasr accepts an award from Major-General Obaid Muhair bin Suroor, and Fares Saeed, at the Wajadto Nafsi press conference.

The gratitude “is infinite”

For Theophilus Efetobome Obie, a senior executive in transport and logistics at EFS Facilities Management, the birth of his daughter was immediately followed by some worrying news.

“For so long, my wife and I were trying to have a child and we finally had our daughter. Coming back from the hospital, she was diagnosed with an artery problem. So, we had to do an immediate surgery. The payment was done by the company … they didn’t think about it. They heard it was her life at stake and they stepped in. Then, she had a second surgery – which was an open-heart surgery – and it was done with the help of Al Jalila Foundation. The staff were amazing and they put in extra efforts to put in some incentives from the foundation itself. They took care of the whole bill. I mean, that says enough for the way Dubai opens itself up. They are willing to step up and come in when needed. I am just grateful for that,” he told Gulf News.

Talking about being recognised through the Wajadto Nafsi programme, he said: “I am really humbled to be honoured with this award. I never thought telling my story would get this far. It started with a little clip, just to say ‘thank you’ to the CEO of the company for coming to my daughter’s aid. I didn’t know I would have the opportunity to express my gratitude to the whole of Dubai and the workforce in general. Dubai is a place that gives people opportunities, and I am very humbled to be part of those people who have been able to settle here with my family and provide the best life for them. Taqdeer Award is really a great platform to show the world and shine the light on the lives of people.”

Talking about what it means to him to get such support for his daughter, he said: “I get to see the smile on my daughter’s face and that is forever. If you want to quantify what it means to me … its infinite.”

A daughter’s dream

For Imelda Diaz, coming to Dubai has helped her fulfil two big responsibilities – make sure that her daughter receives the best education, and support her father who is facing health issues due to old age. These dreams were realised over the 16 years she has lived in Dubai, growing from her position as a saleswoman to being a Sales In-charge for Customer Care and Internal Audit at her company – Eros Group.

“I was so happy that my company and Taqdeer Award would select my story. Because of Dubai, I am able to fulfil all my dreams for my daughter, which I never had [for myself]. I came from a poor family but I gave a better future to my daughter. She is in Canada right now doing a Bachelors degree, and she plans to come back to Dubai once she graduates as she loves Dubai, too,” she said.

Other winners, too, spoke about how their professional growth helped support their families’ security.

Nagarajan Regupathy, for example, started of as a maintenance assistance at Gulf Precast Company in 1992. Today, he is the inventory officer.

“I came here with nothing, now I am able to give others. The journey was very hard but I want to thank my company who gave me those opportunities and in the UAE, we get the opportunities without any discrimination. I came to the UAE to give my two children a good education. Now it is becoming a reality – they are about to become engineers. Also, I wanted to build a house, which I have also been able to do. Now, I want to do something for society, so every month I take a percentage of my salary and spend it on the education of people who I may know, or even those I may not know. At least I will help someone get an education and, in the future, they may be able to educate others,” he said.