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When Philips Michael landed in Dubai in 2013, the only skill that he could offer for a job was swimming. That too was not a formal training, but just a skill he acquired on the side while growing up in Nigeria. Little did he know that it will open up a new life for him in Dubai. 10 years later, he is now marine officer with World Security, a DP World company providing in security solutions for a number of firms in UAE.

Philips grew up in a remote area where fishing, timber, and agriculture were the major occupation. His father was a timber dealer and after the school, he used to assist his father in the business. Philips belongs to the ethnic group Ijaw and is from the Arogbo clan in Ondo, the southwestern coastal state of Nigeria.

After high school, he wanted to focus on playing football. But there were financial challenges as his father was not able to shoulder all the burden himself. Philips also started taking responsibility and he wanted to leave the country in search of better chances.

Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

Ticket to Dubai

It was then that his uncle Love Torulolo hooked Philips up with his friend who works in the UAE. Philips flew in to Dubai from the Nigerian capital of Lagos on a two-week visit visa, with no particular intention of a long stint. It was in January 2013.

“The moment I landed, my mind changed. I said I am not going back anytime soon. It was a completely different environment here. The road networks, the metro. It was so impressive. I called my uncle back home and told him: I’d like to stay back,” he said.

Philips enquired around about the process to get a job here, exited the country, and came back on a one-month visa. He got a lot of support and advice from the community here.

Swimming comes to the rescue

“When I told them where I came from, someone asked me if I know how to swim. They said, okay make a CV for a lifeguard position. I had absolutely no idea what the job of a lifeguard was. I had no training in swimming either. I was just a natural swimmer,” Philips said

However, he made the CV and started dropping it randomly at different places. His friends were also helping him to find a job. He got offers from three places- World Security and two other companies.

He picked up World Security because the salary offered was better and they promoted sporting activities. His trust proved to be in the right place and he never had to look for opportunity anywhere else. And World Security provided him with training and support to further his ambitions.

A lifeguard with zero experience

“When I joined as a lifeguard with zero experience, the company sent me for training at American Red Cross. I got my certificate and started on the job,” Philips said.

He started living his dream. Not long after, an internal vacancy was advertised. It was for the marine crew. He applied for it and was elected for the position Philip was then deployed and given on-the-job training by the company.

As a marine crew, his job involved protecting the lives and property in the area and safeguarding the waterways, as well as controlling and managing access and preventing any illegal activities, for different clients.

“As the marine crew, we were positioned in one place, our officers are the ones who go around and patrol the area,” he says.

Becomes an officer

Philips worked as a marine crew member for about two years. As the job became interesting, he decided to take a boat driver's license. He passed it and in 2016, he became a boat driver.

“I was always ambitious and wanted to advance my career further. I did some courses, in fitness training, and fire safety to improve my chances and competency. In 2019, I became Marine Office,” Philips said.

What next?

“Everything is in the hands of God. My next aim is to use my experience back home when I go back to my home country and establish a water sports and cruise company. That is my goal,” Philips says.

However, Philips has no plans for an immediate return because he is as happy and excited about the job and chances of growth in Dubai as he landed here 10 years back.

He is so grateful for the chances and support this country, World Security and its people offered in fulfilling his dreams.

“I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate Akhilesh Nair, Head of Security Operation, Word Security, and Hamda Ateeq Rashed Harem Al Dhaheri, Head of QHSE, World Security, for their leadership, support, and continuing inspiration in my job,” Philips said.

“I should also thank World Security marine operation in charge Kalfan Sultan for believing in me. At first, he was a bit skeptical about me. Still, he gave me a chance to be part of his team,” he said.

Philips has a wife and three daughters living back home in Nigeria.

He is also grateful for the attention Taqdeer Award for his company has brought on him. “Even for my family back home, it is a thing of joy,” he said.

Read on: How Dubai changed these lives

This is the third of a seven-part series highlighting how Dubai has changed the lives of citizens and expatriates. These are all employees of companies that won Taqdeer Award.