By Rafiq Vayani
DUBAI: Fifteen construction workers of various nationalities got a surprise of a lifetime in a touching tribute ahead of Labour Day.
It all began with a concept – to honour the UAE’s ‘hidden’ heroes to mark Labour Day – but Etisalat took it up a notch and made the celebration more meaningful, touching everyone’s hearts, bringing them joy, and putting a smile on their faces.
The workers were selected from four labour camps in Dubai to participate in a special project. They were transported to a site where they unknowingly pieced together a massive tile structure with a hidden message. As it was slowly taking shape, little did they know what lay in store for them and their families that fateful night.
Flashed on a giant screen was an inspiring message: ‘You’ve built today, so let us build your child’s tomorrow’. The men broke into rapturous applause and got teary-eyed when finally told of Etisalat’s surprise gift: “So, as you can see in the tile structure you’ve just created, we want to help you play an important part in your future. In particular, your children’s future. Etisalat is giving a AED25,000 scholarship towards your children’s higher education.”
Each worker stood up, received a ceremonial certificate and excitedly called their families back home. Abdul Latif Awan, a 65-year-old father of two from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, said: “I had never imagined that my prayers this Ramadan will be answered and that I will get such a big reward from Etisalat so that my children’s life will be taken care of. I have given 38 years of my life in this country, and this country has given me such a big parting gift. I will cherish this all my life.”
Like many migrant workers, 34-year-old Indian Shaikh Riyazuddin came to Dubai in 2018 in the hope of securing a better for himself and his family. Fighting back tears, he said: “Today we worked so hard and Etisalat has rewarded us. I want our adopted daughter to get a higher education so she can stand on her own two feet and be ready for the world. I am very happy that I will be able to give her a good education.”
“With this money, I can help build a brighter future for my family and can also save for their future,” said Mohammed Firoj Mia, a Bangladeshi father of two who arrived in Dubai in 2004. “I’m very grateful to Etisalat. Because of this, I will be able to fulfill a very big dream of mine.”
Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Ahmed bin Ali, Group Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Etisalat, said: “We at Etisalat believe that these workers, who left their home countries to work in the UAE, are an integral part of the country’s success story. Their contributions to the society and economy are invaluable; they are playing a key role in the construction of world-famous skyscrapers and iconic sites. It is but fitting for us to mark Labour Day by paying tribute to their hard work and sacrifices.”
The UAE, home to about 2.2 million blue collar workers, observes International Workers Day, also known as ‘Labour Day’ on 1st May every year. It aims to recognise the labourers’ efforts across the nation.