Proud to be an Emirati in New York

Published: 22 May 2016
Proud to be an Emirati in New York
© Al Habtoor Group

#New_York is one of my favourite cities. It has an energy and excitement all of its own. I love everything about it; the contrast between noise, traffic, crowds with sophistication, green areas and an explosion of cultures. I especially love the coffee served in Trump Tower, which I was relieved to note has not erected a dart board with my face on it despite my criticisms of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate #Donald_Trump. I take great pleasure in my early morning brisk walks around #Central_Park in all weathers and there is no place in the world that makes better burgers than #New_York. If the 18th century English writer Samuel Johnson were still alive, he would surely have said “If you are tired of either London or #New_York City, you are tired of life.”

I only ever need half an excuse to schedule a visit to catch up with my straight-talking New Yorker friends and was delighted that the #Al_Habtoor_Group was invited to be the main sponsor of a Zayed Charity Marathon that has previously been held in the #UAE, #Cairo and #New_York.

I was happy to be involved with the #UAE Healthy Kidney 10K Marathon on 14 May because it raises awareness for a worthy cause honouring the generous, caring spirit of the Father of the #UAE #Sheikh_Zayed bin Sultan #Al_Nahyan and also because it hoisted my country’s flag high in the heart of the world’s financial, diplomatic and entertainment capital.

This wonderful initiative is the brainchild of HH #Sheikh_Mohammed_bin_Zayed #Al_Nahyan, the Crown Prince of #Abu_Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the #UAE Armed Forces, for which he has my greatest respect. #Sheikh_Zayed has sadly left us but his philanthropic legacy still shines bright thanks to his children and grandchildren.

Most importantly events like these bring our two peoples closer together and I believe that is crucial during an era when relations between the US and the #Arab_World are at not their best at the political level. This was a day that reminded us that we are all human beings sharing the same planet with similar concerns, hopes and dreams and proved that the barriers separating us are merely man-made. At the people-to-people level we are one; all members of the same human race feeling compassion for those less fortunate.

For the tens of thousands who participated in the run, including officials from the #UAE embassy, members of the #UAE’s United Nations mission and a delegation from the Cancer Care Society, this was a chance to show their competitive edge while representing their country or their cause. It was a fun day out for runners and spectators alike. All who participated were proud but none more so than winners Lucas Rotich and Cynthia Limo, both from Kenya, who each received a cheque for $25,000.

The traditional #UAE majlis area set up in #Central_Park, hosted by the country’s #Ministry_of_Foreign_Affairs, was a hub attracting #Emirati holidaymakers and students studying in the US. It also offered New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world the opportunity to get to know us while sampling traditional Arabic hospitality and sharing coffee and dates.

The temperature was a perfect breezy 15 degrees centigrade; the sky was blue, the smile count at its highest and the atmosphere electric. But its prime value was the promotion of cross-cultural communication and global philanthropy. All proceeds went to help the #National_Kidney_Foundation, an organization dedicated to the prevention of kidney diseases, improving the well-being of affected individuals and to encouraging organ donation.

I joked on social media that I had won, but in truth I am more of a tennis guy than a long-distance runner. Perhaps next time I will give it a try. I did not hit the grass but even so, I enjoyed every minute of this extraordinary #New_York kind of day.


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