Still from video of Jessica Cox, an American motivational speaker and licensed armless pilot, at the opening session of Zayed Talk Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The world’s first armless pilot, an Emirati author and entrepreneur, and a number of corporate leaders delivered a series of inspiring sessions at Zayed Talk, a day-long meet designed to motivate residents to excel in their fields.

Emirati presenters Yousuf Abdelbary (left) and Diala Ali Image Credit: Supplied

Organised by the Ministry of Interior as part of its ‘Zayed the Inspirer’ initiative to celebrate UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first edition of Zayed Talk also saw performances by sand artists, violinists and mouth artistes as it sought to motivate attendees to take bold and ambitious steps towards attaining their potential.

Major General Salem Mubarak Al Shami (second from right), Assistant Undersecretary for Resources and Support Services, Ministry of Interior, and other dignitaries at the event Image Credit: Supplied

Jessica Cox, American motivational speaker and licensed armless pilot, said at the opening session of Zayed Talk: “A lot of times, people want to limit what they can, limit what’s possible. They want to call it ‘the impossible’. My whole life has been showing the world that it’s not impossible. I am a motivational speaker, and I am also the world’s first [licensed] armless pilot. I was born without both of my arms ... But as a result, I learnt to use my feet. My feet became my hands, and I learnt to do things like feeding myself, writing with my toes, and how to do everything I need to do to be independent with my feet.”

Aiming higher

Demonstrating how she ties her shoelaces with her feet, and also sipping on a drink held with her toes, Cox said she learned how to fly in order to differentiate herself in her career as a motivational speaker. She urged people to pursue their dreams with faith and determination.

“When I was a young person, I really wanted to fly, and I wanted to fly over my playground like a superhero. I actually learned how to fly in a standard airplane, which was not designed for me, but now I am on a mission to build the first ever airplane that can be flown with feet.”

Zayed the Inspirer, which was launched at the World Government Summit in 2018, aims to collect and share motivational stories, and Cox’s address was followed by other tales of hope. Speakers hailed the vision and genius of the UAE leadership, and paid tributes to Sheikh Zayed.

Coexistence enterprise

Emirati author and entrepreneur Omar Al Busaidy discussed his journey towards recognition and success, and why he decided to set up Global Possibilities, an agency that helps businesses grow by focussing on religious understanding and coexistence.

Omar Al Busaidy Image Credit: Supplied

“I am an author, an entrepreneur, and son of the UAE. What inspires me every single day is the UAE, its leadership, its people, and how we are this tiny country in the Middle East that has been able to create this massive global impact,” Al Busaidy said.

He described his mother’s influence during his teen years that saw him working summer jobs at a young age. It helped him gain exposure to multiple cultures, and eventually helped him set up Global Possibilities after establishing and shutting down multiple other ventures.

In a bid to “give back” to his country, Al Busaidy, a Fulbright scholar, also wrote an English-language self-help book titled ‘Just Read It’, which is currently being translated into Arabic.

“[I fully believe] that the only disability in life is a bad attitude. The other thing that really inspires me is a quote by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, who said that ‘everyone single one of is an ambassador – for our country, for our faith, for our families’. The moment we step outside, how we treat people is the way they will remember us, so it is an extremely important responsibility for us to carry on, and to spread that message everywhere we go,’ Al Busaidy said.

Land of opportunities

Other presenters paid tribute to the UAE as they traced their path to accomplishment.

“Sheikh Zayed, may his soul rest in peace, laid foundations for this nation that today has become a beacon of hope, as well as inclusivity and perseverance. I am proud to call this country home. It is where I grew my business, and grew my family,” said Toufiq Kreidieh, founding partner of Brands for Less Groups.

He detailed his struggles in Beirut during his youth, including during part-time jobs he held since the age of 13 years.

“I’m really honoured to celebrate with you the innovation, entrepreneurship and the spirit of excellence that defines this country. We are fortunate to live in a country that is as diverse and as open as the UAE, so immerse yourself in different cultures languages and traditions and respect everyone. We are really fortunate, and may be continue to inspire the next generation to give back in the same way the founders and leaders of this country have done,” he added.

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Sand art

During the event, Nathaniel Alapide, the Dubai-based Filipino sand artist, also created a sand portrait of Sheikh Zayed during the day. Alapide last year entered the Guinness Book of Records for creating the UAE map as the largest sand image in the world.