Abu Dhabi 'Let's Connect' campaign encourages young people to engage with their community

Four social ambassadors appointed to inspire the community during a 10 week initiative organised by the Authority of Social Contribution

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Four social ambassadors chosen from business, sport and the arts have been appointed to inspire young people in Abu Dhabi to achieve their full potential within their community.

An Emirati triathlete, an Egyptian figure skater, an Australian community arts expert and a life coach who grew up in the UAE, will lead the virtual campaign launched by the Authority of Social Contribution.

The Let's Connect initiative is driven by Ma'an, a programme designed to promote social contribution from all sectors and members of society. Ma'an means 'together' in Arabic.

My end goal is to help people find more freedom in their lives

Over the next ten weeks, the ambassadors will share videos of their community activities on the government portal, to encourage young people to do the same

Emirati triathlete Faris Al Zaabi said he will be focusing on health and wellness.

“My role would be to participate from an athletic perspective, and to motivate the public to enrich their lives with positive things.

“The details will be announced later, but you can follow us on social media and help us,” he said.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Amith Passela: Faris Al Zaabi is the first and only Emirati professional triathlete, and the first to take part in the ITU World Grand Finale in Switzerland last year. The interview is about his preparation and schedule for 2020. Monday, December 23rd, 2019. Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Faris Al-Zaabi wants to inspire other Emiratis to pursue full-time sports careers. Chris Whiteoak / The National  

Young people will be encouraged to interact with the campaign by posting videos of themselves taking part in the activities suggested by the ambassadors.

The four influencers will also answer questions through their personal social media accounts.

Arsalan Al Hashimi, who describes himself as a high performance master coach, said he will be sharing his expertise on how to find purpose, freedom and joy in all areas of young people's lives.

“We will be focusing on helping them with whatever is holding them back from being the best versions of themselves,” he said.

Mr Al Hashimi has experienced his own turning points in life, and intends to share the lessons he learnt with the community.

“I had a very illustrious government career, I was advising on multibillion [dirhams worth] projects in aviation.”

Then he moved to the corporate world for five years, where he said he “exhausted” himself with work.

His wife urged him to take a break, “but instead I decided to start doing Iron Man races,” he said.

Training for the demanding races caused his health to crash, and that was his turning point.

“My perspective of when I started [training for] Iron Man was wanting to push myself to the limits, to understand where those limits were.

“In the end I understood and found that limit I was looking for, which caused me to take a different approach to health and well-being, and it took me to the road of coaching.

“My end goal is to help people find more freedom in their lives,” he said.

Community activities encourage social cohesion

One of the events organised by Tanya Awad, an Australian community arts specialist who runs Blank Canvas Community with her sister Christina. Courtesy, Blank Canvas Community 
One of the events organised by Tanya Awad, an Australian community arts specialist who runs Blank Canvas Community with her sister Christina. Courtesy, Blank Canvas Community 

Shayma Sabry, an Egyptian figure skater and beauty blogger, aims to encourage young people to have fun.

“My role is to remind of people to take a break from all the things that we go through in our daily activities, and have some fun with their communities,” she said.

“Don’t just go through daily life and work without focusing on something you need – which is laughter.”

She also wants to encourage teenagers to find their confidence through sport.

“Growing up, life was not easy for me, I was bullied at school, so figure skating gave me the confidence that I needed," she said.

“I started figure skating at age 13. I saw a video on YouTube and I was so inspired and amazed by how beautiful the sport was I told my mom I needed to start skating that week.”

Ms Sabry started lessons at Zayed Sports City’s Ice Rink, and quickly advanced to taking part in competitions and public performances.

“We would have an annual winter show where all Abu Dhabi residents came and cheered, so this was a highlight to see how the community was so supportive, even though the sport is not widespread here,” she said.

In her view, community and parental support is the perfect example of what the 'Let's Connect' initiative aims to achieve, where sport and backing an athlete bring a community together.

The fourth ambassador is Tanya Awad, an Australian community arts specialist originally from Palestine and Lebanon.

Alongside her sister, she is the founder of Blank Canvas Community which organises monthly events designed to encourage participants to connect with each other through  art, poetry and music.

Past events include group painting sessions in unusual locations, including the beach.

Ms Awad said she was “excited about celebrating diversity” during the 'Let's Connect' campaign.

Young people looking to take part can watch the ambassadors’ videos starting Thursday on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube through the account @letsconnect.ae.