"Scientific research is a human endeavor. The choices of topics that we research are based on our biases, our beliefs, and what we bring: our cultures and our families. The kinds of problems that people put their talents to solving depends on their values.” - Dr. Clifton Poodry - How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve?
I first moved to Dubai when I was just a year old. It was the year 2000, the beginning of a new millennium. Of course, I was too young to remember anything really, but what I do remember was a landscape covered in sand.
While I was learning to walk, the Dubai I know now was starting to emerge. The sand turned into concrete, herds of camels were replaced by herds of cranes dotting the landscape, skyscrapers rose beneath my feet and people poured in from all over the world.
By the time I started school, Dubai was a thriving city, a metropolis, with a population from more than 150 countries. Every day, going to school was like being at a UN conference, constantly meeting and making friends with classmates from a new region of the world. Although in most places, people would consider my dual nationality (American and Lebanese) pretty exotic and unusual, it was nothing special in Dubai. Every day going to school, I could share something about where I came from and learn something about where someone else came from. Being open-minded wasn't a choice; it was a part of daily life.
When I was 11, Dubai showed the world how far it had come when the Burj Khalifa, an 828-meter building, shot up towards the sky and claimed the title for the world's tallest building. Today as I am entering my final year of high school, Dubai is recognized worldwide as a global center known for its ability to turn ambitious and seemingly impossible vision into reality.
Why have I taken the time to tell you a short history of Dubai? Because Dubai and I grew up together and, aside from my parents, nothing has influenced me more than the city I call home.
Watching Dubai evolve and flourish has made me into a person who welcomes the future, dreams big, believes nothing is truly impossible, and is challenged, rather than discouraged by obstacles. If Dubai can go from being a small city covered in sand to a world capital, then I can be flexible and embrace change, even the most dramatic. If Dubai can envision and then build the world's tallest building, then I can dream of being the person who discovers a cure for diabetes. If Dubai can build Palm Jumeirah, the world's largest man-made island and the location of my current home, then I too can use innovative engineering to solve problems labeled by others as "impossible" to solve. After all, the people who do great things in the world are the ones who have the audacity to take risks and reach for the stars.
Going back to my story, it seems that Dubai and I have both bloomed in the last 17 years and I think to myself, "What better place could there have been for me to prepare for the life I strive to have?"