Resident in the United Arab Emirates for more than a decade, Ranga, our friend from Nuwarya Eliya, came to Dubai in 2012 with 500 Dh in his pocket.
He didn’t know too many people here and the night he landed, expecting his friend to pick him up from the airport, he was disappointed when no one came to receive him.
A stranger in a big city, he waited at the airport for 5 hours, pacing the arrival hall, unable to comprehend the situation and too exhausted and embarrassed to ask a friendly soul to call his friend. Eventually, he mustered up the courage to ask an airport concierge for help.
His friend, he learned, had had a work accident and was hospitalized. Ranga managed to get the address of the person (a roommate of his friend) and took a taxi to his friend’s house.
“Here I was… a few thousand miles from home. And my friend – who had asked me to come and try my luck in this amazing city – was lying in a hospital.
He went to the hospital the next day. A few weeks later, his friend was released.
One thing leads to another. Ranga received a job offer within two months. Starting as an administrative assistant, he was able to work his way up and get regular promotions until he was able to save enough and hand over money to send back to Sri Lanka.
Now comes the interesting part. Ranga’s daughter is in medical school. Three years ago he didn’t think he could fund his daughter’s education although he always knew, he told me, that his daughter was a brilliant student and would go to vocational college .
If there’s one thing Dubai and the UAE mean to me, it’s that feeling of hope and jubilation. People come here from all over the planet and make their dreams come true.
Ranga told me that he planned to save more and build a small house in his native Nuwaya Eliya. That’s what I call building your dreams, one brick at a time.
If you look around, there are several examples like Ranga. The United Arab Emirates is a melting pot and it is not surprising to come across such stories from Sri Lanka to Swaziland. There are Ukrainians whose colleagues come from Mexico. It will not be surprising to even sit in the Dubai metro between a Russian and an Indian.
Like all the great places in the world that have a truly global culture – places like New York, London and Paris – Dubai has a cosmopolitan pulse about it.
A bold, even daring city that offers opportunities for anyone who is talented and willing to step out of their comfort zone.
Ahmad Nazir is a freelancer based in Dubai