The Magnificent Muna
Dubai, Al Dhaid, and Fujeirah, UAE
I don't even know where to begin when talking about Muna. I was working at a cafe one day and I just kept staring at her because she was such a gorgeous woman and she just had this energy about her, like she was living her life. Like she was actively involved in her path. I ended up plopping down at her table and introducing myself because I couldn't not. Fast forward to now and I consider her a kindred spirit and a good friend who, though I didn't get to spend a ton of time with, has a special place in my heart. We are talking about collaborating on a documentary she has started about the plight of the Syrian refugees in Jordan, and I look forward to how our lives may cross paths in the future.
If every woman was like Muna, I honestly think the world would be doing better. It is humbling to think of all the things she has her hands in. When I met her she was having a business meeting with a man about a new smartphone app, but within a few minutes of sitting down with her I found that she was about to go to Jordan to just see what the deal was with the lives of the refugees from Syria who had made their way into Jordan. She had been having a hard time trying to get into Zaatari, the Syrian Refugee camp, and I had gone there and had some refugee friends in Jordan, so I set about connecting her anyway that I could.
When she came back from Jordan I was still in Dubai, so I spent the day with her going out to check on some projects that she had in the works. She worked with the British government to create a community gathering spot and soccer field in Al Dhaid. I went there with her, out in the desert mountains, to see her dog that lives there and to check in on the project with the man who had volunteered his land for the establishment. They have created a great space for soccer, and a bunch of elaborate gathering rooms for tea and conversation, and waterfalls waterfalls everywhere! None were running in the heat of the day when I was there, but the spot was something to see and I think will be a great source of joy for the community.
When I met her she was also starting another business with her dear friend, and another fabulous lady, Nojoud Bastaki. They are seeking to create cultural tourism opportunities in the UAE that both give travelers an opportunity to experience the real local culture away from the lights and malls of Dubai, and also to provide income to families who are struggling living in the more rural areas of the country. They found families who are on the social services listings for being in need of aid and met with a bunch of them in areas that would be interesting to travelers, and are setting up these cultural exchanges to be able to stay with local families and also support them in the process. A brilliant idea if you ask me.
Muna also has multiple degrees and has worked in the communication and marketing sectors, in big companies and still manages to find time for all these other things that her heart and her entrepreuniral spirit lead her into. She is outside of a lot of the "norms" for an Emirati woman, being 35 and not married with kids, but I think that freedom and independence that she has because of that is a huge part of why she has been able to do all the she has. I love women who break socieities expectations of them. There is a sass about her, a strength. I can't believe I am actually going to quote this bumper sticker I see a lot in America, usually on an ex-hippies car, but "Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History." Just Saying.
The journey that she took to Jordan has turned into her organization called Breathing Numbers that has been an avenue to connect donors with direct medical cases of Syrian Refugees that Muna just went and food. I mean, literally, I watched as she went to Jordan with the intention of filming peoples experiences and before I knew it, she had been back 4 times with tons of donors to support surgeries that were urgently needed, wheelchairs, and medicine that was needed in life and death situations. She is just one woman and she just went and did all of this. If you are interested, you should look into her project, she is trying to find more support to pass the baton a bit as she is having to dive back into her own work that, well, pays the bills.
in addition to all of that she has started other movements in Dubai just in her spare time, just out of the goodness of her heart, that deliver water and food to the impoverished workers who are out in the crazy daytime heat of Dubai, working in temperatures up to 55 degrees celsius. If that doesnt mean anything to you, just imagine the fires of hell and that is pretty much what we're talking about. This is just how she rolls.
Muna has such an amazing heart, and she has a heart that is largely driven and supported by her relationship with her God. I wish people could see more examples of people like her. Modern Muslims who are inspired to do amazing things for humanity because of their faith. Everytime I think of her, I feel belessed that I happened to be in that cafe that day and that her energy drew me in like it has so many others. She is a blessing to this planet.