Dubai's heroes

Meet the people who've shaped Dubai in the last year

Cameron Oliver
Cameron Oliver
Kabul Wazir Mir
Kabul Wazir Mir
Natalie Carney
Natalie Carney
Dubai’s Aussie community
Dubai’s Aussie community
Adam Du Plooy
Adam Du Plooy

1 Dubai Cares
The home-grown charity began the year with a giant volunteer drive to package supplies for those suffering amid the conflict in Gaza. Between January 14 and 17, 50,000 basic school kits and 50,000 hygiene kits were packaged at a makeshift volunteer camp at DIFC. Later projects included the recent Dubai Cares Water Bucket Walk, which raised money to build clean water wells in developing countries.

2 Laura Glanfield
Glanfield opened the first animal sanctuary and petting farm in Dubai in April, giving a home to a host of rescued animals (including a baby baboon, goats, tortoises, ducks and horses) and the opportunity for children to visit and learn how to care for pets in a hands-on environment. Donations welcome.
050 273 0973,

3 Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services
This philanthropic organisation is a pioneering force in the UAE when it comes to supporting both children and young adults with mental and physical disabilities. It aims to change society’s attitudes towards those with special needs, as well as offering help, support and rehabilitiation. This year, Sharjah City opened a shop in the emirate’s Souk Al Arsa, where disabled children can sell the arts and crafts they’ve made in classes at Sharjah City’s centre. Director general Her Highness Sheikha Jameela Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi tells us that the students enjoy working in the shop, adding: ‘We try to make it, in inverted commas, ‘normal’ to see the children among other people – that they’re not something strange.’

4 Kabul Wazir Mir
After losing his job in the financial crisis, Mir decided to put his new-found spare time to good use. He’s been working tirelessly ever since to help gather supplies for the displaced people of Swat Valley in Pakistan. June’s military offensive to regain control of the Mingora area from the Taliban left thousands stranded, and Mir has not only been instrumental in organising collections and shipping supplies, but has even been out to Swat Valley to visit the refugee camps and see how the effort in Dubai is helping first-hand. He says it has made a huge difference. ‘We’re bringing hope to these people,’ he says. ‘Just helping the human spirit is an achievement.’
Check out Mir’s Facebook group by typing ‘Pakistan relief – Swat donations’ into the search box

5 Natalie Carney
The Canadian expat, at a loose end as to what to do one weekend, decided on a whim to fly to Afghanistan. After visiting an orphanage there, she returned to the UAE and set up her own Dubai-based charity, Kids Being Kids Afghanistan. Not content with collecting and shipping supplies, Carney also spent September in some of the country’s poorest orphanages filming her documentary, Forgotten Victims of Afghanistan. ‘It’s solely to get the word out there,’ she says. ‘If it gets four or five more children sponsored, and if it gets another child going to school, brilliant.’

6 Dubai’s Aussie community
We were very impressed by the way the Aussie community in Dubai rallied around Australian expat Leanne Langmead after she suffered terrible injuries in a road accident while on holiday in Cape Town. The local Australia New Zealand Association (Anza) in Dubai has held several fundraising events to help with Leanne’s rehabilitation, and Leanne tells us she was very ‘touched by their concern’.

7 Faisal Khan
Khan has been busy this year with his voluntary venture, Take My Junk. We told you in August how Khan drives around picking up people’s unwanted furniture and clothes, before redistributing them to the UAE’s labourers. So successful has this project proved that Khan now hopes to set up Take My Junk recycling points all over town.
Keep an eye on Time Out for more.

8 Cameron Oliver
The teenage camel crusader won an International Young Eco-Hero Award for his camel campaign. The 13-year-old South African expat has been giving talks in some of Dubai’s schools and organising mass 4x4 trips into the desert to clear up the litter that is killing camels across the nation. Hundreds of ‘ships of the desert’ die after ingesting the rubbish that plagues the dunes – hats off to Cameron for doing something about it.

9 Adam Du Plooy
Du Plooy told us in October about his crazy plan to run six marathons back to back in the Sahara to raise money for Dubai Autism Centre. Du Plooy does not have autistic kids of his own, but his empathy for families dealing with the condition, and his awareness of the need for more autism education in this region, inspired the challenge. ‘It’s six days,’ he says of the marathons. ‘Autism is something people deal with daily for the rest of their lives.’

10 Jonty Fernandez
Fernandez ran this year’s Beirut Marathon in aid of his new charity, 3LSurvivors. The Kiwi expat has set up the organisation to raise money for landmine victims through sponsored endurance challenges within the Gulf region. Next year’s challenges include the Dubai and RAK marathons, and the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge.
Email him if you want to get involved.

How to be a hero next year

Here are a few community-spirited things we’d like to see more of in 2010
• More people at Feline Friends’ monthly Adopt a Cat days. There are around 30 cats in need of a new home at each event. Remember, though, that it’s not just about cute kittens – plenty of adult cats have also been abandoned and mistreated and would love to find a new and loving home.
Call 050 451 0058 or email to find out about the next Adopt a Cat day

• Donate blood! Dubai needs more people to donate blood on a regular basis. Blood has a shelf-life and can’t be stockpiled, and with the especially high rates of blood disease thalassaemia in the UAE, the city is desperate for a free-flowing supply.
Contact the Blood Donation Centre at Al Wasl Hospital, on 04 219 322

• Recycle your old mobile phones. E-waste is growing problem in the region – if you don’t recycle your old devices they’ll be sent to landfill, which causes all manner of environmental problems. There are drop points for old mobile phone handsets all over Dubai.
See for a full list of locations

• Get out walking for a cause.There’s been no end of opportunities to march the streets with the community to raise cash for charity this year, with the Pink Walkathon and the Water Bucket Walk being just a couple of recent examples, aiding breast cancer research and the building of clean water wells in developing countries respectively. And it’s good for you!

• Report animal cruelty. Just a few weeks ago we told you about the shocking atrocities that have been committed against domestic pets in Dubai during the past few months. Keep an eye out and if you see something, report it. The cruelty won’t stop if we ignore it.
To report abuse in the Springs, Meadows and Lakes areas, email Call 800 900 to report animal cruelty to the Dubai Municipality Veterinary Services department

•Join a social group. You can never have too many friends, and there are all sorts of ways to make new ones in Dubai, from playing weekly card games to joining in with en-masse painting sessions.

More from Community, Things to do, Culture

Here are the top ways to spend time with the city’s cutest creatures

Dog-walking for K9 Friends is perfect if you're unable to have a pet of your own

Ways to meet new people, make friends and expand your social circle in Dubai

Give the planet a helping hand by following these easy environment tips

The UAE’s best animal attractions and species to spot year-round

There’s never been a better time to work for yourself in the UAE


Follow us