The night I was born was a cold and wet. All alone in the darkness, my mother screamed out for help. Wracked with pain, she suddenly saw a mysterious stranger. The figure lit a lantern in silence, just as my mother lost consciousness.
When she awoke the next day, my mother saw me lying next to her, wrapped in a thick blanket made of wool from our tent. The whole family was around us, each one more surprised than the other. My mother told them what had happened. At first, they did not believe her and began gossiping. But slowly they accepted the truth.
That is why my parents called me Ghareeb (“stranger”). I was the first person in Abu Dhabi called by that name. To hear their laughter was humiliating, but it made me who I am today.
I decided to prove myself to everyone and, in turn, make those who had mocked me feel shame. I convinced my parents to send me away to study in Egypt. They knew of my suffering and agreed right away. There, I finished school and went onto university where I studied Medicine, eventually becoming a doctor.
In 1975, I returned to Abu Dhabi. Everything had changed. Instead of calling my land Abu Dhabi, it was now the golden seven Emirates. I was proud of my country, and my country was proud of me. I was one of the first Emiratis to study medicine, so I became a famous doctor. Everyone loved me for being Ghareeb.
Ghareeb is my name, but life made it my destiny and my fate.
by Shaima Saleh Omar Al Jaberi
Illustration by Nauf Abdulrahman Abdulla Abdulrahman Al Shaikh