Filmmakers bring home the benefits of UAE expat life

Family members of the stars of A Place Called Home say the documentary has made them proud and given them an insight into their relatives' lives in the UAE.

Director John Sammon and producer Nancy Saade, centre, with the wife and son of Arabtec labourer Bikram Singh, whose story is told in the film A Place Called Home. Courtesy Saluki Media
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ABU DHABI // Family members of the stars of A Place Called Home say watching the film has made them proud of the sacrifices their relatives made for them.

The documentary, produced by Abu Dhabi Media, which also publishes The National, tells the story of five people who moved here to support their loved ones.

The filmmakers not only showed the lives of the expats, they also travelled to their home countries to meet the people they had left behind.

Harpreet Kaur, daughter of Bikram Singh, 46, an Arabtec labourer, said she learnt a lot about her father’s life in Abu Dhabi from the film.

“I am proud of my father,” said Ms Kaur, 18. “He has been in the UAE for 16 years and made it possible for me to attend a good school. I needed coaching classes to gain entrance to a law college. My father is working in Abu Dhabi so I can be successful.”

She hopes A Place Called Home would convince more people in India to allow girls to be educated. "Some people think it is not important to educate girls," she said. "I hope they will be inspired by the film to educate their daughters."

Education aside, however, she said she misses her father a lot.

“I am very close to him,” said Ms Kaur, who was 18 months old when her father left home.

Mr Singh’s wife, Anita, 36, said the remittances her husband sends home to Punjab were vital to her family.

“My extended family troubled me because I sent my children to an expensive school,” she said. “My parents did not educate me but I want my daughter to study.”

Another subject in the film is Evelyn Mayormita, 27, a Filipina who works as a teaching assistant in Dubai to support her mother, brother and daughter back home. Ms Mayormita's aunt, Ante Aster, 55, was moved to tears watching A Place Called Home. "The filmmakers went to the village and saw the situation Evelyn's mother is in," said Ms Aster, who works in perfume production in Sharjah. "The place is remote and very dangerous but the crew still went there.

“I want to see the film again and again and show it to my relatives in other countries.”

Rail Kalam is the son of Kalam Noor, a Bangladeshi businessman and philanthropist, whose story is also featured in the film.

The 21-year-old, an engineering student at the American University of Sharjah, was excited to see his father’s story portrayed.

“The film left me speechless and made me very proud of him,” he said.

“I always knew he was hardworking but I did not know I would see him on the big screen.

“It makes me want to be like him.

“In my country, people assume they don’t have an opportunity to do something good. The film teaches you that you can make something of yourself and help your family and community.”


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