Cattle herder to MBA: Expat in UAE learns his way to success
An Indian worker who started out as a cattle herder at a desert in Abu Dhabi's Liwa has used the power of education to change his fortunes. With generous help from his Emirati sponsor, Shareef M.P. has completed college and is currently pursuing his Master of Business Administration (MBA). He is also preparing to get a doctorate.
"I have been balancing work and studies for over 15 years now. I am using education to change my life. I started with less than Dh400 a month and today make up to Dh10,000 as a government liaison officer (public relations officer - PRO)," he said.
The 42-year-old landed in the UAE from Kerala in 2001. "I started off by rearing goats for two years at a farm. I was interested in reading and learning new things and made a good impression on my sponsor. I requested that I be given a chance to complete my studies," Shareef said.
Since he knew how to make Arabic dishes, he was made a cook. "It gave me free time to study. I knew the only way out of my situation was education."
After that, the Malayali was moved to his sponsor's villa in Dubai, where he was able to frequent a nearby library. He continued his studies through distance education and got a bachelor's degree in commerce from a university in Kerala. Later, he did a certificate course in human resource management from an institute in Dubai. After getting a driving licence, he donned the uniform of a limousine driver and joined a company as a tourist coordinator and PRO.
By this time, he brought his wife to the UAE, who joined a school as a teacher.
Now Shareef is in the fourth semester of MBA in hospital management from a university in Rajasthan. He is also preparing a research plan and content for his doctoral subject: Discovery of Malabar in a new globalised dimension.
Shareef has also written a book and shares his experiences at public forums to create awareness among others about the importance of education.
"I could have still been working at the same farm. I chose a different path and my journey continues."
He coined a new term for Covid-19 volunteers
In between his studies and research work, Shareef volunteers with community organisation Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) in Dubai. As a tribute to Covid-19 volunteers, he has coined a term: Covidmat. "I clubbed 'Covid' and 'Khidmat', which means 'service'. Covidmat means approaching a problem with cooperation and patience."
He came up with the word as he volunteered at Al Warsan isolation and quarantine centre in Dubai.
Shareef is supported by his wife Sabitha and three kids Sabahul Khair, Salman Faris and Sabeeha Mumthaz.