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Vancouver, Washington, United States
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Monday, December 05, 2005

Wonderful memories of a remarkable man

Almost three years ago, I took part in a workshop designed to acquaint the press with the needs of people with disabilities.  The workshop was organized by the press club in Dubai, and was fairly well attended, mainly by service providers, advocates as well as various press personalities in the country.

Everything went as expected – the passing of information, the complaints, the protests, the sort of stuff you’d hear in a workshop of that kind in that part of the world, until a woman got up to speak.  She identified herself as Amal Alnuaimi.  No sooner did she speak her first sentence, she broke down and literally started crying.  “I look at you”, she said looking at me, “and I see my brother.  You are so similar, I do hope you will one day get to meet”.

I spoke to her after the workshop and we exchanged business cards, and found out that she worked in the same building I worked in.  We remained in touch, and I took the first opportunity to go to Bahrain to meet her brother, the one she was so proud of and spoke highly of.  I simply wanted to see what kind of a person he was, and I must say her description of him did not do him justice, for I doubt she, even being a journalist, would have been able to come up with the right words.

Khalid, the gentleman in question, is the son of AbdulRahman Alnuaimi, a long time political dissident who was expelled from his country almost thirty five years ago.  Consequently, Khalid was born and raised in exile, mostly in Syria.  He started losing his vision as he was growing up, and by the third year in college, he was, for all intents and purposes, totally blind.  He finished his studies in computer science in exile in Syria, and did a bit of traveling before returning, along with his family, to his native Bahrain, after a general amnesty was granted to most political exiles earlier this decade.

With his determination and his dry sense of humor, Khalid managed to break down a lot of barriers, ones I couldn’t dream of doing myself.  He graduated from an Arab university, lived all but six months of his life in the Arab world, and found work in the Arab world in his own major of computer science.  At the time when blind people are struggling to prove that they can get out of bed, he is holding a job in a reputed institution in his native country, constantly proving himself as a valuable contributing employee to his team and his country.  He does it with stride, always wanting to do more and achieve more, demanding more of himself and wanting to give more to the world around him.

His wife, a native Syrian, is no less remarkable.  The minute you see her your realize that she is not the subservient wife you’d find in that part of the world.  She has an outgoing personality,, friendly but tough, loving and supportive of her husband, not overbearing as women in that part of the world – indeed all over the world could be.  She doesn’t take care of him, she is his partner,, and they both take care of one another.  They are a team, working to make a happy family and raise their children, helping each other face the tough requirements that living in their part of the world necessitates.

Khalid continues to work to improve the lot of his blind compatriots.  He is active in the friendship association for the blind, helping all he can to raise the moral of his friends and counterparts, showing them the possibilities they otherwise couldn’t see.  In his struggle, many find consolation and encouragement, and through him many see a living example of what they can become.  Of the memories I had from that part of the world during my two years of living there, none are so memorable as the evening I spent with him, his child and his wonderful wife.  Of the people I met , none inspired me as much as he did.  I’m ever so proud to call such a man a friend, and am most thankful to that moment in which his sister, a wonderful woman herself, so fit to introduce us.  It is indeed a blessing, one the likes of which are quite rare, at least in my own life.

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