Lucilio Roberto Moreira ventured into sunny Dubai from verdant Recarei, a small-time village in Portugal, in 2006, at the peak of UAE summer. The monetary-driven stint was to be for just three months. However, Lucilio is still in Dubai after 17 years and still working for the same company: TK Elevators (TKE).

From a 9th-grade school dropout to a technically-sound professional in Dubai, the fascinating journey of Lucillo is of perseverance and hardship.

Moving to Dubai

When Lucilio landed in Dubai that afternoon, he had no clue that his life will take a different trajectory. Born in a middle-income family, Lucilio was always fascinated with electronics and mechanics, the working of toys and gadgets kept him occupied most of the time. “Whenever I got a toy or a gadget, I opened them to figure out how they functioned,” said Lucilio.

In school, he opted for electronics at a very young age. Though football, like most Portuguese, was his passion, he could not adapt to the ways of the rich kids who spread their might in the football-coaching clubs.

Dropped out of school

Was it the attitude of the rich kids or was it the inferiority complex that drove out Lucilio from the football-crazy country’s centre courts? “Only I and the goalkeeper were taking public transport to reach the football courts, the rest of the kids came in high-end cars,” he said.

The ‘angry-young man’ also dropped out of public school when life and living got tough to support his single mother who toiled in a wood furnishing factory to make a living. A second income that Lucilio earned from working helped his mother and extended family of aunts and grandmother eke out a decent living.

Lucilio Roberto Moreira
Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

“We never missed a meal, but an additional income helped in the growing family needs,” said Lucilio, whose father was not around to guide him. The single mom’s teachings helped Lucilio to cope with the vagaries of life.

Those days of working for the then-TKE in Portugal helped Lucilio in honing his skills, which immensely helped him in his later days.

At the tender age of 20, Lucilio took another plunge and joined the army. Lucilio’s cousin was a Sergeant with the parachute division of the army, and that inspired the young man to join the army. “The temporary job lasted for four years and it paid very well,” said Lucilio.

Time passed, from an employee to a sub-contractor of the then TKE in Portugal, Lucilio dabbled in different roles, all for a better living.

Marriage and separation

At the age of 27, love blossomed and he got married. Children followed and somewhere on the way, disillusionment crept in and the couple were separated.

When Dubai Airport Concourse 2 work started, the TKE group in Dubai scouted for talents around the world, Lucilio was one of those skilled workers selected to work for the project.

Lucilio didn’t know anything about Dubai, except that the legendary Portuguese footballer Luis Figo had been in this multicultural land of wonder.

Work was tough, but the income was good. “The salary was much better than in Portugal,” he said. Soon, Lucilio’s skills and knowledge helped him to move from one challenging project to another. He is now the service manager at the Opera House in Dubai.

Future plans

On the way, Lucilio learned many things: different languages, and understanding various cultures and manners without visiting those countries. He also found his second wife in Dubai, an Argentinean.

To retire and travel around the world is the 49-year-old Lucilio’s wish, but that might not happen in the near future, “for I have a family to take care of.”

After being in UAE for so many years, the mellowed-down Lucilio has made Dubai his second home: “a place of peace and tranquillity far away from the maddening conflicts”.

How Dubai Changed These Lives

This is the fifth 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.