Emirates News Agency – WAM Feature: How Abu Dhabi Newspaper Read by Emirati Students in USA in 1970s Attracted Americans to UAE
By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, June 22, 2021 (WAM) – A group of five young men from the first generation of Emiratis who went to the United States for higher education in the early 1970s made an arrangement to secure the only English newspaper to ‘Abu Dhabi for their reading in New York.
Little did they know that an American friend, who read this newspaper with them, would be curious to know more about a young nation founded in 1971.
Martin Corrado, the American, says he never imagined that the colorful stories presented by his Emirati friends and the newspaper would draw him to the young Arabian Gulf nation to spend part of his life there later.
Friends and newspapers attract Emirati culture
Long before his first visit to the United Arab Emirates in January 1977 and joining a job here after a few months, Corrado already knew the people and places of the country from conversations with his Emirati friends and from reports he had read in Emirates News, the English daily. published from Abu Dhabi.
Reports on new infrastructure projects and investments from the newly created oil wealth, sporting and cultural events showcasing a unique Arab culture, especially horse and camel racing, piqued the young American’s interest.
He and his wife Mary had learned Arabic in Cairo, where the couple first met as American students abroad, and they brushed up on the language with their Emirati friends in New York. The young people told them stories about Emirati society and their dreams of building a great nation.
“Even I loved reading the classifieds in this newspaper, which gave me a sense of the jobs, the market situation, and even interesting traits of some people,” the 75-year-old says with a smile. interview with WAM in his Abu Dhabi office.
He was referring to some strange classifieds he had encountered in 1970-74. Foreigners had started to settle in the young country and some of them were leaving as well as today. Some expats, especially westerners, who were leaving the United Arab Emirates, sold their household furniture and other items as usual. “One day I noticed an ad selling a big bottle of water for AED 1. They didn’t want to waste that AED 1 before they left the country!
First visit to Abu Dhabi
This engagement with a distant Arab land continued until his Emirati friends returned to Abu Dhabi in 1974 after completing their undergraduate studies at New York University, where Corrado was also doing his MBA.
Emirati friends who reached Abu Dhabi held senior government positions and they kept in touch with Corrado. One of them was Nasser Al Nowais, currently president of Rotana Hotel Management Corporation.
Al Nowais chaired the Abu Dhabi National Hotels Company for 14 years. He was also Managing Director of the Abu Dhabi Fund and Undersecretary of the Ministry of Finance and Industry.
At the invitation of Al Nowais, Corrado and his wife visited the United Arab Emirates in January 1977. Apart from Abu Dhabi, he traveled to all the other Emirates. “I was surprised to see a Hilton hotel in Fujairah, far from the big cities!”
The delay of the journey changes fate
After a long two-week stay, he was planning to travel to Cairo, but his flight from Abu Dhabi was delayed due to unrest in the Egyptian capital caused by public protests against rising food prices. food. “Apparently this was caused by the reduction in food subsidies. I followed the BBC news on a Sony transistor radio!
The change in travel plan would later transform his entire life. During the delayed stay in Abu Dhabi, Al Nowais introduced him to Sheikh Suroor bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, a member of the ruling family who held important official positions.
“Sheikh Suroor thanked me for taking care of Al Nowais and other Emirati students while they were studying in the United States and discussed a lot of things related to finance and investments,” Corrado recalls. .
After a few months, he received a telex from Sheikh Suroor, asking if he was interested in being his financial advisor. Corrado’s wife was also interested in moving to Abu Dhabi and it was the start of a long-term association since April 1977.
New life in Abu Dhabi
The couple came with their daughter; a son was born in Abu Dhabi Corniche Hospital in August 1977. “We have had a wonderful family life here.”
Corrado had worked on planning and financing the construction of many major monuments in Abu Dhabi, including the ADMA-OPCO office, Etihad Towers and many others.
Asked about his expectations for the future of the UAE when he landed here in 1977, Corrado said: “I knew it would develop. But I didn’t think it would be at this point. now is amazing. It has been a dream come true for so many people. “
The main achievement of the UAE is not its material progress, he adds. “I think it’s the goodwill that the Emiratis have created across the world – that’s the most important thing. There is a real spirit of giving – people help people. That’s the most important contribution. largest in Abu Dhabi. “
WAM / Ibrahim Shukralla