He could not achieve his lifelong dream of becoming a police officer due to his impairments, but this did not stop Saif Al Theeb from excelling in his career, with the help of his late mother who pushed him to strive for greatness always.

Saif describes the day his mother passed away as ‘the worst day of his life’ because she was his biggest supporter. Smothering her forehead with kisses the day she passed, he recalled not being able to let her go on the day he saw her last.

At the beginning of his journey, Saif was not motivated to work and was not fond of the idea of having a job that requires effort. Over time, especially following his mother’s death, he realized that having a job was necessary to earn money and fulfil his mother’s wishes. But it wasn’t always easy.

Today, the 40-year-old Emirati, who is part of the sales staff at the Dubai Garden Centre after he joined Dubai Desert Group’s ENABLE program for people of determination, can speak three languages and confidently approach new customers at his workplace.

“I used to do a lot of heavy labour but that didn’t stop me from continuing and persevering, I didn’t give up. I used to load, and unload bags of soil and pesticide so I used to feel tired a lot, but it taught me so much,” said Al Theeb.

Saif Al Theeb
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

His mentor, Ibrahim Mohammed Ali, who is a Rehabilitation Manager at Dubai Desert Group, explained that one of the main purposes of the program designed for people of determination is to create sustainable career paths for all its applicants.

Members of the program are taught to produce, display and sell their products until they reach their aspired career goals.

“We want to create a sustainable future for all our applications, we don’t just want them to find a job, on the contrary, we teach them new skills so that one day they can open their small businesses,” said Ali.

Promotions, achievements

Saif, who started his professional journey doing heavy labour work, excelled in all the program’s phases and completed them with distinction.

Today, the 40-year-old sales supervisor, who goes by the nickname ‘Bou Saeed’ [father of Saeed], can be seen at the Dubai Garden Centre approaching people, educating customers and completing purchase transactions.

“I’d love to open up a flower shop, I’d like to apply everything I learned at the Dubai Garden Center through Dubai Desert Group in my own business,” said Saif.

His aspirations of opening his flower shop circle back to the initiative's vision of helping people of determination to apply the skills they’ve acquired in their business ventures.

In addition to being recognized by his community and co-workers, Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, wrote on Twitter, “I was pleased with the story of Saif Al-Dheeb and his colleagues of determination and their determination and will. I was pleased with the “ENABLE” community initiative of the Desert Group, which supports people of determination. I thank the group for its initiative and invite everyone to celebrate, support and enable our heroes of determination to employ their energies, which we are proud to be from the Emirates.

Family and Future

Despite all odds, Saif did not view his impairments as limitations. Instead, he managed to excel in both his professional career and personal life.

At the age of 21, he got married to what he described as the ‘perfect woman’ who is ‘as precious as [his] mom’, and now has a 14-year-old boy named Saeed.

With a twinkle in his eye and a wide smile on his face, he recalled the day his mother introduced him to his wife. Following his mother’s passing, Saif’s wife took on several responsibilities, assuming the role of his mother, wife, supporter and primary caregiver.

“Often his wife will call us to make sure Saif has eaten his food, taken his medicine and even to make sure he’s feeling alright,” said Ali.

When describing a typical day, he highlighted that his wife always smiled when he arrived back home from work, which brightened up the rest of his day. He especially enjoyed returning from work because he knew he could spend time with his son.

“I wanted to become a policeman as a child, but since I could not achieve this goal, I want my son to fulfil this dream, I want him to grow up and protect his nation,” said Saif.

Though his aspirations for the future include owning his flower shop in the future, his dreams don’t stop there.

“I want to do so much like open a café in Jumeirah or even abroad in London or the US,” said the 40-year-old.

With tears in his eyes, he also shared that he wants to build a masjid in memory of his loving mother, whom he misses dearly every day.

Choked up after speaking about his mother, he cleared his throat and said, “My message to all people of determination is to work and work and work. We need to prove to society that people of determination can do anything and live their lives to the fullest.”

Part 1: Imelda’s journey from poverty to hope

This is the second 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.