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Three words that left a mark

Iraqi woman archer thankful to UAE leader for restoring her sense of self-worth and belief

BY Alaric GomesChief Reporter
20:37 March 9, 2018

Dubai: Just three words changed the direction of her life. Iraqi athlete Zaman Al Saedi is forever grateful to one person who helped her believe in herself — His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Last year, Shaikh Mohammad issued a decree that introduced the words ‘People of Determination’ and called for doing away with the term ‘People with Special Needs’. That had an instant impact on Al Saedi, who has been confined to a wheelchair since suffering an accident in the course of the war to liberate Iraq.

Al Saedi’s is a heart-rending story. She lost both her parents and was rendered an orphan during the course of the struggle in Iraq. And then a second incident saw her lose both limbs, confining her to a wheelchair forever. Her self-confidence destroyed, she found it difficult to expect anything more from life.

“And then your Shaikh Mohammad issued a decree to rename us as ‘people of determination’. It made me think why such a great man was insisting on calling us ‘people of determination’. The more I thought, the more I started seeing the wisdom behind his words. Life started changing for me, and I started looking at things differently,” Al Saedi recalls.

With a newfound purpose, the girl turned her full attention to sport. There too, she encountered a fair bit of challenges as training facilities were hard to find. But she persisted, and last week her hard work paid off as she ended with a silver medal in the Recurve Women’s Open category at the recently-concluded Fourth Para Archery World Ranking Tournament at the Dubai Club for People of Determination (DCPD).

“Slowly, I started believing in myself. My self-worth returned, and today, I am going all out to achieve a dream that I had given up on for some time,” she noted.

Her sport started taking her places, and soon Al Saedi started getting the recognition back home. With last week’s Fourth Para Archery World Ranking Tournament being held in Dubai, she travelled to Dubai with the hope of earning vital ranking points that could ease the process of starting the quest for an Olympic berth in Tokyo 2020.

Further good news came her way at the end of last year as Al Saedi got married. “We have just one life and I am forever grateful that I have believed and reached some of my goals.”