Happy new year
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Dubai: Will you set a new health target for yourself this year? Will you, for example, decide to exercise, order fewer takeaways and cook more nourishing meals at home? Or maybe your health is in fine fettle and this year, you are focused on curbing your plastic usage.

If you have been bringing home, let’s say, 30 plastic shopping bags on an average per month during 2018, perhaps 2019 will see you bring it down to 15 bags per month? Or even 10 per month?

Maybe 2018 saw you coughing up hefty traffic fines — for all the speeding and overtaking — so you have pledged to not pay a single dirham as a traffic fine in 2019, which means you will be a responsible driver this year.

These personal goals are a great way to ditch your old habits and revamp your lifestyle. They will not only enhance your quality of life and bring fresh energy to everyday functioning, and remap your future potentail, these goals will also be game changers for the country as their greater value lies in their ability to contribute to the larger good of society.

As every UAE resident decides to get healthier or become a disciplined driver or turn into a more positive employee or become a robust eco warrior, the incremental benefits for all will be impressive.

So what will your contribution be in 2019? Gulf News asks residents to share their decisions for the new year in some key areas of all-round welfare.

— Interviews by Sharmila Dhal, Chief Reporter; Sajila Saseendran and Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary, Senior Reporters; Aghaddir Ali and Faisal Masudi, Staff Reporters

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‘I’ll continue with my health routine’
Uma Sareen, Grandmother to three children

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“For 2019, I have resolved to maintain my healthy lifestyle. For the last three years, I have worked hard to maintain a balanced diet, where I did not have carbs at night. I have suffered from asthma all my life and recently underwent a food intolerance test. Through that I discovered I was allergic to stuff such as almonds, dairy products and wheat and eliminated those. I am relieved that since then, I have not required to use my inhaler at all. I also practise regular yoga and breathing exercises to avoid asthma attacks. In addition, I climb seven flights of steps at a go, go for long walks and will continue these routines.”

‘Make a resolution to listen to your body’
Florence Gillet, Eating Psychology coach

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“I would like to incorporate more self-care, rather than diet, in 2019. Dieting has a 95 to 99 per cent failure rate and is proven to actually raise the body’s set point weight up in the long term. Instead of restricting and being held to impossibly difficult workouts, I advise my clients to make a resolution to listen to their body more, care for their mental health, invest in high-quality food, follow one’s natural hunger patterns and satiety cues. These health resolutions are actually effective and sustainable because they are enjoyable in the long run.”

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‘Prevent extinction of marine life’
Saleh Hanbola, Emirati

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He worked as fisherman in the sea since he was seven-years-old. He is a Nokhda now. “Everyone should work together to prevent the extinction of marine life and avoid dumping any harmful substances in the sea.

Individually and collectively, we should protect and preserve the marine environment from all sources of pollution and authorities should take effective measures with violators in order to prevent pollution caused by dumping.

“On my part, in 2019, I will teach my fishermen how to protect marine life and what kind of material should be used to not harm fish and marine creatures.”

‘Protect animals from eating toxins’
Mattar Al Messafri, Emirati

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“I am concerned about the environment, mainly about the desert and the animals in the desert. I used to spend time in the desert daily at one point of time.

“This year, I will personally set up fences with an opening around garbage containers to prevent camels and other animals from feeding on toxic substances such as plastic that harm animals. There are no covers or barriers to prevent animals from approaching these garbage bins and eating from them.

“I will also advise people on how to protect the desert environment and tell them to throw/trash litter in designated places.”

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‘Reinforce happiness in your office’
Hamdi Bhansi, Health inspection officer

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“I want to continue to maintain a pleasant and optimistic attitude at work, not only with colleagues, but with clients as well. I meet around ten clients — senior managers, owners of various establishments — daily, and if they see that I’m positive and relaxed, they too will feel the same way.

“I think having the right attitude is as important as doing the work correctly itself. Happiness has been a priority for many years at my workplace and I plan to reinforce it even more in 2019.”

‘A smile, a joke can help lift spirits’
Mazhar Al Deen, Construction manager

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 “Spreading joy and happiness in the office should be the aim of all staff, as we’re all one team. As for me, I want my colleagues to know that I’m always there for them if they have anything on their mind. Sometimes little things go a long way in lifting up people’s spirits — a smile, a joke, some sweets.

“The workplace can be a stressful place sometimes and what happens at work often spills over into the home life. So it’s crucial to be happy and grateful in the office — where people spend most of their time – so that we can feel the same way with families at home too.”

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‘Use buses and Metro more often’
George Hettiarachchi, Head of technical support

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“One thing I can suggest and I am keen on is carpooling in Dubai so that colleagues living in the same area need not drive individual cars. I wish RTA will reinstate the previous service of issuing carpool permits. That would encourage colleagues to carpool and reduce the number of cars on the roads. With the permit we can give the commitment to RTA that it is to help the country environmentally and to reduce the traffic and tensions related to that, but not to make a business out of it.

“I would also try to use public transport like buses and Metro more often.”

‘I’ll keep to the speed limit’
Lara Jasser, Student

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“I used to take the Metro to go to the university until I got my licence a year-and-a-half ago. After that, I started taking my mum’s car mostly. But I think I should use the Metro more often. It may take longer to reach, but you won’t actually feel it once you are seated inside the Metro.

“Secondly, I will try to be more careful while driving and keep to the speed limit. I got three fines in 2018 and two were for speeding. On one occasion, I was in a hurry to write an exam. On the second occasion, I didn’t realise as I was listening to music. I will try not to pick up any traffic fines in 2019.”

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‘Let’s volunteer for a big event’
Natallia Kastenka, Executive assistant

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“The UAE welcomed me warmly in March 2015. Since then I’ve been enjoying living and working in such a beautiful multicultural family learning something new every single day. Tolerance is a fundamental virtue that allows all of us to coexist happily in peace and harmony. To pay back to the community I live in and to mark the coming year of tolerance, I’m planning to offer my volunteering services for a big event — the Special Olympics World Games, to be held in Abu Dhabi in March 2019.”

‘Learn more about other cultures’
Jessica Asuncion, Nurse

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“The Year of Tolerance is an excellent initiative launched by the UAE Government, which strengthens the bond between different cultures and values. It will help us build a strong foothold of respectful relationships and will enhance the environment in a positive way.

“This year, I will start to learn more about different cultures from my friends and colleagues and will look forward to bridge the gap with beliefs and traditions.”