29 July 2021

Two Generations of Mothers By Dr. Saleema Wani

As a doctor working in Abu Dhabi for the last three decades, I have witnessed generation after generation give birth to beautiful children. I remember holding the hands of a young mother giving birth to her daughter. And then years later, holding the hands of her daughter as she gave birth to her two children. 

I came from Kashmir with my husband on April 15, 1989 and on my second day in the UAE, I began working as a junior doctor at the Corniche Hospital. Interestingly, when I arrived in the country, I had still not resigned from my previous role as I had only planned to stay for a few years with the intention of returning to my home country. Little did I know, the UAE would become my home for the next thirty-two years.

I have walked in and out of the hospital day in and day out. There were times when I was extremely tired and desolate as  life continues to  happen around us. But I could not give up. I was on a mission with little time to spare! 

When I think about leaving the UAE, it is hard. It is hard  to leave a country when it feels like home and you are surrounded by family. I have served two generations of mothers and today, I am helping those women give birth who were born through my hands. Each child still calls me and asks me for advice, and treats me as if I were their second mother. How could I possibly leave my children behind?

Each child still calls me and asks me for advice, and treats me as if I were their second mother. How could I possibly leave my children behind?

When I look at these mothers, I see that while so many changes have taken place in the UAE  over the last three decades whether socio-economic or other, two things have remained  constant: the values and traditions instilled in Emiratis by the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, and the weather! And while not much can be said about the weather, it  is fair to say that it is these values and traditions of families, elders, of love and patronage that  made me feel like I was at home, just like a member of each of their families. It gives me comfort knowing my two sons Mohammed and Ammar are never going to be alone.

Raising two sons whilst working as a doctor, being a wife and earning qualifications all at once was not easy. But how could I not upskill when the path was paved for me through the pragmatic and visionary  leadership of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan and Our Nation’s Mother Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. 

Sheikh Zayed once said: 

“No matter how many buildings, foundations, schools and hospitals we build, or how many bridges  we raise, all these are material entities. The real spirit behind the progress is the human spirit, able  man with his intellect and capabilities.” Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan.

This particular quote resonates deeply with me. It inspired me to work on my growth in order to remain abreast with the technological advancements, as well as give back to the community by assuming several teaching and mentoring roles in the education sector.  

Erich Fromm once wrote that “people who manage to learn to love in a  mature and conscious way understand that love isn’t possession nor conditions. Love is a caring and firm desire to promote the growth of all those people we love.” 

Simply put, serving the people of this country as a doctor for the last three decades has been a feeling of unconditional love for me. As I reflect on my time in this country, and the years to come, I feel that life is not about us doing what we love; rather, we need to love what we do.


This article is part of the “The UAE’s 50” series, featuring stories and journeys of people who call the UAE home.

Year of the 50th