Five of the UAE's most inspiring stories of 2022

From life-changing lottery wins to courageous health battles, there has been plenty of positivity to share this year

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The media is frequently accused of putting negative news at the top of the agenda, with positive stories rarely hitting the headlines.

There has certainly been plenty of troubling news to report on in 2022, from the continuing war in Ukraine to pressing concerns over climate change and the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But The National has also been able to shine a light on heartwarming tales bringing hope and inspiration.

From beating the odds to survive terminal illnesses to Emirati women breaking new ground there was a lot of good news to cover over the past 12 months.

Here, we take a look back at some of the highlights.

Cancer survivor’s inspirational tale

Cancer is a disease that has affected the lives of most families around the world.

One person who knows better than most about its impact is Sarah Agha, a Syrian mother-of-two who was forced to have her breasts, uterus and ovaries removed.

It would be understandable, to say the least, for her to have become depressed but she told The National in October that she was grateful after all that she had endured.

She explained how before she was diagnosed with cancer, she was unhappy with her appearance and had booked cosmetic surgery.

“Right before I discovered I had breast cancer, I had scheduled an appointment with a plastic surgeon because I wasn’t happy with how my breasts looked, and now I've lost them,” said Ms Agha.

“I wasn’t happy with my hair and I became bald. I wanted to be thinner and I gained weight, because of all the chemotherapy and treatment.

“I was never happy with what I had and I lost everything that I wasn’t happy with.

“But now because of cancer, I have started loving myself.”

She also said her battle against cancer had allowed her to show her children what could be achieved with courage and positivity.

“I started feeling good about myself and inadvertently taught my children valuable lessons, too,” she said.

“I taught them that everything will pass no matter how bad it is and told them to love themselves.

“I put myself first now and my family.”

First bone marrow transplants for children in the UAE

Jordana, five, who has sickle-cell anaemia, had a transplant to receive healthy stem cells from her 10-year-old sister Jolina. Photo: Burjeel Medical City

History was made in Abu Dhabi in April when two young children were the first to receive paediatric bone marrow transplants.

Burjeel Medical City’s bone marrow transplant unit performed the procedures on Jordana, five, and Ahmed Daoud Al Uqabi, two, just weeks apart.

Two-year-old Ahmed travelled to the UAE from Iraq for the life-saving operation after he was diagnosed with thalassaemia, a genetic defect in the composition of haemoglobin. His donor was an older sibling.

Jordana, five, from Uganda, who has sickle-cell anaemia, received healthy stem cells from her sister Jolina, 10.

Dr Zainul Aabideen, head of paediatric haematology and oncology at Burjeel Medical City, said that Jordana had endured great pain and suffering in her life.

“The only curative option for this life-threatening condition is bone marrow transplantation,” Dr Aabideen said.

“Prior to this procedure, there would have been immense suffering for the patient.

“The entire care team here at the hospital, as well as the child’s parents, are delighted that the transplant will remove this pain from her life.”

Hundreds of Emiratis attend funeral of elderly American woman

There was a show of community spirit when hundreds of Emiratis attended the funeral of an elderly American woman outside Abu Dhabi, despite many not knowing her.

Lois J Mitchell, 95, had just one surviving relative when she passed away last month.

She lived with her son John and daughter-in-law Asil after moving to the capital following a long spell as a home economics teacher in Baltimore.

She converted to Islam and took the name Latifa.

People became aware of her death through a social media account that publicises local funerals.

Emirati video blogger Majed Alarmy shared the news of her burial on Twitter.

“In Islam, they say if 40 people attend a person's funeral and pray for that person it is sufficient to wipe away their sins,” said Mr Alarmy.

“Only Allah knows what beautiful deeds did she do that so many people turned up. May Allah grant her paradise.”

Lift off for the first Emirati airline captain

Aisha Al Mansoori made history in August when she officially became the first Emirati female airline captain.

She had almost 6,000 flight hours under her belt when she got the four stripes on her uniform, confirming her new status.

“It is an achievement that I've been looking forward to and working hard for since I was a cadet pilot,” she said.

“We are both privileged and lucky to be born in the UAE as opportunities are open. All you need to do is seek it and take it.”

She joined Etihad as a cadet in 2007 and is now flying Airbus A320s.

Dh10 million Mahzooz win for factory winner

There is no question that most of us have dreamt of becoming rich overnight and wondered how it would change our lives.

Sadly, for most of us, a dream is all it will ever be. However, for one Pakistani factory worker living in Abu Dhabi that dream became a reality in October.

Machine mechanic Saad, 32, whose surname was withheld for security reasons, planned to use his newfound fortune to bring his family to the UAE — because the country had been so good to him.

The mechanic, who lived in labour accommodation, said he could barely believe his eyes when he saw that he had the winning numbers.

“I had to check with my friends and we all looked at the app on our phones and realised it actually was happening,” he said.

“I was so excited that I was shaking. It was an incredible feeling.

“I haven’t been able to bring my wife to live here but that’s going to change.”

Updated: December 30, 2022, 6:39 AM