I’ve always been passionate about serving abroad and exploring other countries and cultures. Their development fascinates me, but I also want to tell people about our successes in the UAE and diplomacy is a practical tool to achieve that dream. Tolerance is an important principle of our country, and there’s no better way to spread and encourage tolerance than by travelling and meeting people from around the world.
But it has come at the right stage of my life. I’ve previously worked as a diplomat in Cairo, Hong Kong and New York. Those busy cities were perfect for my lifestyle when I was younger, but now that I’m nearly 50 years old, I’m happy that I’m in a quieter, more serene location. The UAE Embassy in Riga, Latvia’s capital, is located right next to the Daugava River—it’s so calming to work in a place that sits beside the water.
Turaida Castle in Sigulda, Latvia
My job involves sharing the many things to love about the UAE with people in Latvia, but also about telling those in the UAE about why they should visit or work in the Baltic state. When I arrived here in 2017, just 80 people had visited Latvia from the UAE. I worked hard to improve awareness and as a result, the number of visitors rose to more than 2,000 before the pandemic. I love discovering Latvia and introducing it to not only my country but also my region. Diplomacy is all about exchanging ideas and experiences.
“Latvia boasts a terrain of lakes, forests and the sea, which people enjoy as most of them have an outdoor mindset.”
It’s one of the least populated countries in Europe—there are only two million people living here and most of them are based in the capital city, Riga. This means that Latvia offers ample outdoor space. It boasts a terrain of lakes, forests and sea that people relish, as most of them have an outdoor mindset. Even in the harshest winters, children are encouraged to find ways to play outside and be a part of nature.
Old Town Ratslaukums Square in Riga, Latvia
I love wintertime because this was a different experience for me, having lived in a desert. In contrast, Latvia has long summer days. In June, Latvians celebrate Jāņi, the summer solstice, when they make wreaths, light bonfires and sing songs. In the summer, the countryside is lush green, with many plants and colourful blooms.
Runda ̄le Palace in Pilsrundale, Latvia
Latvia is one of my absolute favourites. In Riga, there’s historic architecture and buildings that have survived two World Wars when so many in Europe were destroyed. Beyond Riga, there’s a long Baltic coastline for those who enjoy the ocean, with lovely beaches and varied landscapes in towns like Jūrmala and Liepāja. For me, nature is unquestionably the biggest attraction in Latvia.
Images Courtesy of H.E. Hanan Al Aleeli and via Shutterstock