The Ajman Radio anchor who was accused of insulting a caller in need on his morning talk show Al Rabia Wal Nas on Thursday has said he was merely protecting the country’s reputation and did not mean any harm to the caller or anybody else.
Yaqoub Al Awadhi, the Emirati co-host of a popular morning show on Ajman radio that listens to nationals’ concerns, was sacked on the orders of the Crown Prince of Ajman after a heated conversation between him and a caller went viral.
"For me, the point was to avoid defaming the country," Mr Al Awadhi told The National on Wednesday.
The caller, Ali Al Mazrouei, an Emirati former driver who now lives on Government welfare allowances, started complaining about the rising cost of living and called on the leaders to raise people’s salaries.
“I did not want his words to downsize the efforts of the country and its leaders in providing for the people,” said Mr Al Awadhi.
“I felt upset, and I was upset when he said half of the Emirati people, as in 500,000 locals, are living poorly … this is an insult.”
While he acknowledges that problems and poor conditions exist, “as we are not living in a utopia," this, he said, could be the result of poor financial management and other factors.
“Regardless of the reasons, we should not raise the issue in this angry way,” he said.
“As an anchor, I need to weigh many things … some people are monitoring me waiting to catch a line that will defame the country.
The radio host said that the negativity of the caller could have been used to undermine the UAE's image internationally, and to say people are "miserable and living poorly" when they in fact claim to be happy.
He said they could have diminished the good efforts the country has put in to provide for its people, and that his intention was “honourable” – he did not mean to cause insult.
“I think I was provoked by the caller’s angry statements and my tone came out wrong. The message I was conveying was misunderstood.”
Mr Al Awadhi said this was not the first time the issue of expensive living costs had been raised on the show, and that the call on Thursday lasted for 16 minutes, but the first half was omitted from the recording that was circulated online.
“It did not show that, in the beginning, I kept listening to him, and he asked me not to interrupt so I stayed quiet. Then [Al Mazrouei] said: ‘why aren’t you replying?’
“But the wicked source who ran the video only showed my angriness, and showed that I was interrupting him.”
According to Mr Al Awadhi, he tried to calm the caller down at the end of the call and tried to make a joke, asking what he had for breakfast. “I am known for my sense of humour, it was never my intention to offend anyone,” he said.
“Many people told me they found the call quite normal, but what can I do? I have many enemies.”
Mr Al Awadhi apologised publicly to Mr Al Mazrouei live on another show, Al Bath Al Mubasher, on Ajman
Radio yesterday afternoon. He said he then discovered that Mr Al Mazrouei was "one of my biggest fans" and that he had "once even called and recited a poem he had written about me."
The host said he does not know what will happen with regards to his suspension.