ABU DHABI: The Emirates Writers Union, Abu Dhabi branch, organised a national ceremony to mark 40 days of the demise of eminent writer and media personality Dr Abdullah Omran Taryam, former Minister of Education and Justice and the founder of Dar Al Khaleej Press, Printing and Publishing.
The ceremony was held at the headquarters of the Emirates Writers Union at the National Theatre in Abu Dhabi in the presence of relatives of the late Dr Abdullah, including his son, Omran Abdullah Omran, and Omran Mattar Taryam. The event was attended by Ali Al Hashemi, adviser for religious and judicial affairs at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Abdul Wahab Al Abdul, head of the Federal Supreme Court, Dr Yousif Al Hasan, Habib Al Sayegh, chairman of the UAE Writers Union, Fawzia Ghareeb, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education for Educational Operations, legal luminaries, educators, heads of boards of directors of charitable bodies, writers, intellectuals, journalists and Emirati and Arab artists.
Hashemi thanked the UAE Writers Union for hosting the ceremony and said, “The late Dr Abdullah was a very great man who everyone knows, especially those who worked with him. When he was Minister of Justice, 180 scholars and intellectuals used to come to the UAE to revive the nights of Ramadan as part of a custom started by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and is still revived nowadays, under the presidency of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”
Hashemi added that the late Dr Abdullah was a liberal Muslim, and a free man who adopted loyalty as an attitude.
Habib Al Sayegh said, “This celebration is held in the name of all UAE writers and intellectuals to mark 40 days of the death of Dr Abdullah Omran Taryam, who had a rich history and a special life full of giving.”
Al Sayegh added that the late Dr Abdullah belonged to a generation whose life was full of challenges with the aim of enhancing the progress of the UAE.
“When the late Dr Abdullah and his sibling the late Taryam Omran founded Dar Al Khaleej, their dream was colossal, harmonising with the dream of the homeland. They both worked hard until their country and their foundation had become sublime,” Al Sayegh added.
Judge Abdul Wahab Al Abdul said, “The death of Dr Abdullah has painfully affected us, who regarded him as a giant patriotic figure who left at a time when we were badly in need of him. His personality has different aspects, as he was a thinker, a media figure, a journalist and an education figure.”
He added, “I worked with Dr Abdullah, who had a big role in promoting the federal judiciary and contributed to enlarging the employing of UAE citizens in the judiciary field. His era witnessed the joining of the local judiciary of Umm Al Quwain to the federal judiciary. He was also the first Minister of Justice to introduce to the cabinet the first Emirati judge at the Supreme Federal Court in 1995.”
Fawzia Ghareeb welcomed the participants and said, “It is an honour to be present here, on behalf of the Minister of Education, Humaid Al Qattami, and all staff of the ministry. The late Dr Abdullah contributed a lot to many fields including education, judiciary, journalism, and others. He is regarded as an icon with a sublime position among leaders of the first generation, who contributed to building a generation both at the local and global levels.”
For his part, the media expert Abdullah Shahin, director of the press section at the security media department at General Secretariat of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior’s Office, touched on two major sides in his relations with Dr Abdullah. The first was personal: the late Dr Abdullah helped him access the world of journalism by allowing him to join Al Khaleej newspaper.
He said he called Dr Abdullah directly telling him about his desire to work in journalism, as he at that time was working for a place which did not help realise his ambition and could have killed his writing talent, but Dr Abdullah supported him.
The other side is a practical one, which dates back to several years ago, when Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, entrusted the media expert, Abdullah Shahin, to establish the guide of the police press. Al Khaleej with its values and archiving of experiences was a key reference in establishing that guide. He stressed the position of Dar Al Khaleej which it would not have reached but for efforts of both the late Taryam and Dr Abdullah Omran, who founded a newspaper endowed with objective characteristics, integrity, national sincerity, which the security media should be exactly distinguished by, Shahin said.
Shoaib Abdul Fattah, media adviser for the Egyptian embassy, said in his speech few men excel themselves even once, but Dr Abdullah surpassed himself three times in justice, knowledge and writing. Despite the fact that one of them is enough to be immortal in his own country and among his people, but he devoted his life to, and was a pioneer in, each of the fields.
He also said that Al Khaleej was a major platform for the defence of issues and identity of the nation and a free platform for the sincere great writers and men of thought and press from all across the Arab world. Dr Abdullah Omran cried on the loss of Palestine throughout his life.
Dr Abdullah remained sad and worried while Egypt was under the rule of the Brotherhood. But he predicted half a year before the revolution of June 30 in Egypt the fall of Brotherhood and that they would not be able to divert the movement of history or stand against its will.
Ammar Kurdish, head of the board of the Palestinian Al Bayyara Cultural Society, said during the ceremony, “ Homelands have faithful men and women who receive from home the most beautiful meaning and give it the beauty of what they have, they are coloured by the homeland and the home is coloured by them, God granted the United Arab Emirates pioneers, and our great Abdullah Omran is one of them.
“The reason why talking about Abdullah Omran gives a special meaning for Palestinians, is his affiliation to the Arab stand that believes in the unity of the Arabs and the unity of their destiny, representing the United Arab Emirates, which did not hesitate one day to stand beside Palestinians. This, along with the leading role of Al Khaleej in Arab journalism, which is one of the oldest Arab newspapers and a landmark of Sharjah.
The UAE’s Khlod Jabri said that the late Dr Abdullah had a big role in supporting the UAE’s women and motivating them to participate in the community development for a long time that dates back to the pre-seventies. He patronised and contributed to founding Umm Ammar School, where she was a student. She also pointed out that Dr Abdullah backed all artistic and cultural activities.
Dr Hassan Qaied, media professor at the UAEU, pointed to the role of the late Dr Abdullah in setting up the university, stressing on his abilities and strategic thought that made the university a towering edifice. When Taryam Omran was appointed the ambassador of the UAE in Cairo, Dr Abdullah was nominated the Minister of Education. It was the fuel for the development of the UAE which put it in an advanced stage regionally through his work in Cairo.
“After the death of Taryam, I felt that Dr Abdullah will take over a hard mission and I was sure that he will add to it after the death of Taryam Omarn and this what actually happened. Taryam Omran and Abdullah Omran complemented each other. In 1992, an accident occurred in Dhaid which resulted in the death of 7 Emirati people. It was a national disaster and sadness prevailed in the Emirates. on that day, Dr Abdullah asked his brother Taryam about the major headline of the newspaper for the second day. “It would be the incident that shook the United Arab Emirates,” Taryam replied.
Dr Yousif Al Hasan, a close friend of Dr Abdullah Omran, who also played a role in setting up Al Khaleej and a former Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper, said, in his speech, “We meet today to reminisce and reflect on the meanings and aspects of the life and work of Abdullah Omran after the death of his brother, Taryam.”
Man of freedom
Dr Al Hasan added that “Abdullah Omran was dreaming of liberated Arab cities and countries without occupation, prisons or corruption. He was a man of freedom and an iconic national humanist and responsible man.”
He pointed out that he met Dr Abdullah Omran for the first time in Cairo nearly five decades ago, in the Oman Students Association, as he was led by his brother, the late Taryam, where he was a young man coming to life and work with enthusiasm and vigour, and he mingled with a Cairo which was full of thought, culture, art and politics. He was good-natured and cherished the Arab ethos.
He said that Dr Abdullah was lamenting the currrent conditions in the Arab world. He also held the Spirit of the Union in his soul and he wished that the new generation would implement the message of the Union with patriotic zeal.
He said after many years our children and grandchildren will wonder about the likes of Khalid and Omran, Amira, Aysha and Najla, why personalities were more optimistic, and more courageous when they chose the path of the press and free speech at a time when others are fighting for material gain.
Al Hasan said that Dr Abdullah Omran, just days before his death, and in a moment of fatigue and tension while he was making revisions on the Al Khaleej newspaper until midnight for publication the next day, he looked at his daughter Aysha, who was busy with her responsibilities in The Gulf Today, the English language sister publication of Al Khaleej, and asked her, “Would it be more convenient to you if I were running a shop or a factory, or a car agency instead of these concerns, the press and all its troubles?”
Dr Al Hasan couldn’t hold back his tears when he said this. He remained silent for a while then said, “If Dr Abdullah Omran saw me in this situation, he would be sad,” stressing that Aysha and her two brothers and her sister are determined to continue the march and carry the message of the newspaper.