Mr Suwaidi is the Acting Treasury Manager at the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD).

Mr Faisal Yousif Al Suwaidi holds the distinguished position of Acting Treasury Manager at the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD). His journey to accomplishing this goal started in 1994, when he assumed the role of Fax and Telex Operator. He described this job as one that detached him from his colleagues and one that he believed he would be doing for the rest of his life.

All this this changed when he decided to further his studies. Since then, he has steadily progressed, working in different roles within the ADFD. In 2009, he was appointed to the position of Treasurer where he managed the Money Market Portfolio. By 2012, he was promoted to the position of Board Director of a subsidiary in Bangladesh (United Arab Emirates – Bangladesh Investment Company) funding Small-Medium Enterprise sectors of Bangladesh. Two years later, he was appointed as Chairman of the same company. Faisal received yet another promotion in February 2015, a few months prior to concluding his MBA. He was appointed as Acting Treasury Manager managing with the team, the access cash of the FUND. Later that year, he was appointed as a Board Member of ARTES a Tunisian automobile company.

Faisal credits his continuous studies for the successes that he has enjoyed in his career. He has new goals, which include becoming a government minister or governor of The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates.

Below Faisal shares his thoughts with us on the Year of Reading, his culture and dreams for his country.

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum has declared 2016 as ‘The Year of Reading‘. What are two crucial benefits of this agenda for UAE’s citizens?

“Reading opens minds, magnifies hunger for knowledge and instils the values of openness and moderation that define great civilisations”. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai IQRAA “READ” was the first word of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Mohammed before any other command or tasks were given to him. Thus, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s initiative is based on several studies. It is a part of the top leadership’s 2021 vision. As citizens, we have to contribute to this vision by encouraging each member of the society to start reading at home.

Reading leads to change in many areas of life. It is a tool for wisdom. The benefits of this initiative are many. It allows us to focus on finding creative ways to promote reading among children and adults. It has led to an increase in reading campaigns throughout the UAE.

Recently, I have seen many reading clubs for adults but none for kids except at school. Perhaps a children’s museum for 4-16 year olds could help in further promoting this initiative. Another idea for useful learning; could be for parents to participate more by spending time with their children instead of sending them with the housemaids just for playing at community gardens during winter.

In 2017, the advanced library, which will be opening in Dubai, will be a hub for printing books, reading, cultural events, innovations and sharing knowledge.

Although it is a challenging initiative, we can make it work. Let us look at how can we challenge children, teenagers and adults to read. Despite the technologies existing in our daily life we should try to make reading more enjoyable for everyone. We should also examine the role of parents in making reading a habit at home.

We can measure the Year of Reading by the end of 2016. However, if we give this initiative serious consideration, I am convinced that we will receive greater benefits in the years to come.

Who was your favourite teacher and why?

When I reflect on my school days and the massive effort of my teachers, I really appreciate what I have accomplished in my life. My favourite teachers were Arabic, English and Geography. Both Arabic and English teachers exposed me to reading. They encouraged me to read a lot. In addition, the daily challenges from my Geography teacher, led me to read and explore the beauty of the world.

Share with us two common misconceptions about Emirati people and culture that others may have, that you would like to correct?

The first misconception is that Emiratis are not hard workers. We work hard, whether it is in government or in the private sector. Evidence of our commitment to hard work can be seen in what we have achieved since December 2, 1971, our National Day. We contribute to the wealth of our country in all areas of industry. Our country’s growth over the past 4 decades can be summarised in 4 major phases. Firstly, 1973 oil was representing 90% of the GDP. Secondly, our education system was at its early and typical learning stage. Thirdly, in 1990’s United Arab Emirates qualified at the FIFA World Cup in Italy, leading to worldwide recognition of the country by its major landmarks, specifically the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Finally, 2015 was the Year of Innovation, where Emiratis at all levels participated and introduced many initiatives to help the government and private sector to enhance the quality of life in the UAE.

The second misconception is that Emiratis only celebrate Islamic occasions (Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha) and other religions are not welcome to celebrate their festivals. Although, the majority of the population is Muslim, we celebrate the festivals with our brothers and sisters by exchanging gifts, food and much more.

How do you pass on important Emirati traditions to your children?

Respect: Regardless of age, race, identity and religion, which are the main principles that my parents taught me.

Hospitality: We are trained since childhood to be welcoming and generous, especially when we receive guests at home.

Sharing is caring: Involve the children in the family first, in order to keep the family together. Children learn first at home before they are able to contribute to society.

Honesty: We learnt to be honest. I always tell my children that honesty is the key to a clear conscience, a peaceful soul and mind.

What is one thing that you would like to see happen for young people in order to help them to have a more secure future?

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu

Besides staying connected to our heritage, I would love young people to study what they love. With knowledge, they can lead the country to a better future.

What is the one thing that you would like the world to know about Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi is a warm welcoming destination. There is a wide range of activities to be enjoyed around the year, such as Book Fairs, Exhibitions, Classical Music Festivals, Camel Races and Dates Festivals, Hunting and Heritage Exhibitions, Qasr Al Hosn Festival, Desert Safari, water sport activities, Formula 1, remarkable concerts and attractions. Additionally, there are a number of upcoming attractions, which will enrich everyone’s experience.

What is the best advice that you have received? How has it helped you?

The best advice I have received from my mother is “Do your best, God will do the rest”. This contains two parts. My part is essential. By following this advice in my daily life, by the grace of Allah, I have accomplished many tasks without the fear of failure and I hope to accomplish even more by doing the right things.

By Carolyn Lee

Carolyn is the editor of Teach Middle East Magazine.

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