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UAE's diversity and harmony hold many lessons.

Summary: UAE's multicultural gift is peerless say residents

Suchitra Bajpai Chaudhary, Senior Reporter Nabeel Mohammad, 53, 
Ethiopian businessman

Mohammad came to the UAE in 1990 to assist in his mother's garment business and decided to stay back. Today, he owns a flourishing cargo business.

He particularly appreciates the camaraderie of his fellow Muslims, and the spirit of Ramadan, and he makes it a point to be in the UAE during the holy month.

"In the last two decades, I have learnt so much about different cultures, have many Emirati and Indian friends and have realised that there is no place like the UAE to conduct business in.

"I have got so many perspectives on life, learnt so much about world cultures that it has rounded me as a human being. It has made me confident of striking a conversation or a business transaction with anyone," said Mohammad.

Wang Yu Lan, 56, ?Chinese doctor

The friendly atmosphere and ease of doing business in UAE attracted Chinese-Canadian national Wang Yu Lan to Dubai.

Lan, who is from the Haerbin province in China, came to the UAE in 1997 following her brother who owned a restaurant business.

"I am a qualified Chinese doctor and have practised in Russia and Canada, but I fell in love with the sun and beaches here and decided to settle down here," said Lan.

Lan, who owns several massage parlours in Dubai, said UAE gave her the opportunity to mingle with a multinational client base.

"The UAE taught me to lower my guard and feel relaxed in multicultural company. I have many Arabic and Indian friends.

"My mother, Shiu Li Chan, who is 86, and ran a successful wholesale fruit business at Al Aweer, chose to stay back here after retirement.

"Both of us are very happy here and find this place to be vibrant," said Lan who feels she owes her success to the UAE which provided her with a great atmosphere in which to conduct business.

She also praises the UAE for having enabled her to keep in touch with her traditions. "We celebrate our traditions, with the difference that we usher in Chinese New Year with friends from different countries. That makes our festival so meaningful and colourful."

Diego Ceballos Wated, 54, ?Ecuadorean businessman

Ceballos has been visiting the UAE from Quito, Ecuador, for two years as his elder daughter, Paula, is married to a Japanese national and lives here. "The UAE nurtures such [diversity]. Initially, we [would only visit] our daughter and her family. Seven months ago, I decided to move here with an export business," says Ceballos, who lives in Jumeirah Park neighbourhood.

A major reason that made Ceballos come to UAE is the safety and security it offers.

He also finds the respect between nationalities and people to be very comforting. "I find people here are never hostile. They are always easy with foreigners and everyone is treated well.

"My wife Sara and I both felt this place was ideal for us to raise our younger daughter, Daniella, here."

Neel Shukla, proprietor, Four Season Ramesh Art Gallery

Born and raised in the UAE, Shukla, son of Ramesh Shukla, the well-known photographer, Neel feels blessed to have got such a splendid upbringing in the UAE.

He spent his childhood revelling in the warmth of a multicultural exposure that forms the prism through which he looks at life. "We lived on what is the busy Naif Road today and those days, Diwali too was a public holiday. Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, all mingled with our Emirati neighbours, paying visits to everyone, exchanging greetings and food, celebrating each other's festivals," he said.

This exposure provided him with an emotional strength that came in handy when he went to the US for higher studies. He met his future life partner, Sylvia, a Colombian, at university.

"My first date with my wife was a visit to her family home where her parents, uncles and cousins grilled me to gauge if I would take care of their girl. [My] multicultural upbringing helped me understand their concerns and assure them [that I would].

"The UAE has taught me to be curious about other cultures, respect traditions of other communities and we feel enriched because of this.

"My wife and I have inculcated the same values in our three children, Neil Dmitri, Joaquim Franco and Emma Gabriella who speak Spanish with their maternal grandparents and also understand Hindi and Gujarati ... to be able to converse with my parents. They are true international citizens completely at home in Dubai."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:May 29, 2016
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