By Maria Bolevich
By Maria Bolevich
Croatia – I was lucky enough to recently interview Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi, known as The Green Sheikh. The Sheikh worked in the oil industry for about three years before changing from polluter to environmentalist. In 1996, he started his real journey to green commitment with equal delivery.
MWN: What is new in Ajman about environmental protection and your job?
Environmental protection being enforced through law and regulations in one hand, and in another is based in education. [Protecting the] environment is not a job for me but it is life, a mission as a volunteer to advise the government of Ajman for cutting-edge mind shifts and behavioral changes, and to continue promoting environmental stewardship to the public and most young leaders.
MWN: I have read about your roles and duties and you have so many things to do, plus you have five kids. How do you spend your free time; do you have free time?
[Those] who have no free time means that there are some problems. But I do have valued time which I spend either reading, writing, or thinking, or continuing to impact people around the world positively. The rule of thumb is priorities and establishing balance. Now, I do have six children.
MWN: You have the title of the Sheikh; you break down barriers, talk with people and your behavior is more than unique. Is it difficult for you to adhere to protocol?
I am a human being and down to earth, that’s what makes me different from others. Protocol is important when you are in official event or ceremony. Suddenly, you break all those protocols for a natural influence and to be more at the level of thinking of the people.
MWN: The UAE’s first nuclear energy plant is expected to begin providing power to the country’s electricity grid in 2017. A further three plants are scheduled to be operational by 2020. Is that good decision?
Politically and economically, yes, but from social and environmental point of views, absolutely not. It has the dimension threat of an unknown future, and most likely will face international –political pressures rather than internal.
MWN: Dubai, Ajman, Abu Dhabi… beautiful cities, but that means more tourists. Can tourism put pressure on natural heritage and ecosystem protection?
I don’t think so, since many projects now are ongoing for eco-tourism in protected areas, like the coastline and the natural habitat in the deserts, mountains and valleys. In addition, beaches for scuba diving are protected from pearl diving.
MWN: Is it easier to be falconer or falcon?
Anyone can be falconer but to be a falcon is very special and unique. Few people fly with the hawks and many people remain with the crocks.
MWN: What does ihsan mean?
The basic idea of ihsan means “doing more than just enough”. Going higher or to the next level than normal, it is for excellence and competence. Also it means continuous improvement, saving and improving lives through goodness and kindness. Even removing a harmful object from the pathway is ihsan, as is being good to your parents. Finally, the ultimate ihsan is worshipping God as you see Him, and if you cannot see Him, He sees you.
MWN: Think globally, act locally. One of the problems is that there is usually the question “Alone, what can I change?” What do you can say to these people?
Starting with small changes will impact great things. If you want to change the world just change yourself for the better. That’s truly enough. As Brandi Snyder said, “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
MWN: You have been to Antarctica as a polar explorer. Which was the most valuable thing you have learned?
[It would be] the appreciation of the things we don’t own. Respect, be responsible for, and rethink our limited resources. Most are spreading peace and love so that all can have the right to live in harmony and dignity. Antarctica is a pure place that has the secrets of balancing our planet and it is the white board we can monitor to tell if the Earth is well or not. This place reminds us that we are the custodians of this planet and that we can be champions to do our best for the best.
MWN: Your heroes are your father and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. What have you learned from them?
Only two things! How to create sustainable leaders and balancing nature without harm.
MWN: Do you have any plans to write a biography and where can people find your books?
I already did write three books in Arabic; the first was Our Beautiful Environment, the second was Private Secrets of your (In)vironment, and the third was YourSstrategy. My new book will be Breakthrough with the Green Sheikh in both Arabic and English. I hope the new book will go international soon.
MWN: One interesting thing is that when you go to a restaurant you do not order for yourself but only for those around you, then you eat the remaining food. Is that enough food for you, I must ask?
Normally I eat less, not more than average of 1800 kcal per day, and the other things I like to share with people, also it can lead to less waste. One of my favorite quotes is, “The richest person is not the person who has the most, but the person who needs the least.” Living well, with less, is not only a simple way to live, but it is the only way to live in order to keep joy and happiness at the center. Remember, less is more!
MWN: Which ecosystem needs our maximum attention at this time?
Our hearts are the first! This is the most powerful ecosystem to fix before any others.
MWN: If you could ask yourself one question and answer it now, what would that be?
Why we are still living? To change ourselves every moment for the better and change the world we want.
“Fly high with the hawks and leave the other crocks” – Abdul Aziz A. Al Nuaimi, a.k.a. The Green Sheikh.