Wednesday, February 01, 2006



A fabulous mosaic showing Sheik Zayed, the biggest one ever, measuring 4 metres by 8 metres - was completed by students and some members of staff at the University of the United Arab Emirates – Women’s Campus, this afternoon.

Each of the 7,683,447 pieces of ceramic tile was placed on a huge mat spread out over the lawn in front of the Student Activities Building on campus.  The entire student population crowded around the mosaic to see it completed before several groups of Emirati children from schools in the region sang songs and recited Arabic poetry and entertained the huge crowd.

Later, the collective work of thousands of students and at least two teachers (my colleague and I placed tiles on the mat as it neared completion) will be placed vertically for all to see and marvel at.

A mosaic is a truly significant work of art – ‘a mosaic of testimony from various witnesses’ is how the word has been used in a well known online dictionary, and this mosaic seems to fit this use.

Symbolically speaking, if each tile represents one student at the university, the mosaic as a whole represents everybody who took part.  This mosaic is something like a visual representation of the university’s student population.

In a very real sense, a country or territory, a city, town or village, a neighborhood or community, or a nation is a mosaic – a human mosaic, in which each person fits in with his next of kin, his partner, sibling, mother, father, son, daughter, or friend.  To live harmoniously in this big picture, we all have to recognize each other’s rights, each other’s space, and our position regarding those that we meet and deal with.

We learn to fit in with others, especially with those nearest to us – we learn to cooperate.

If we fail to do this, then the mosaic doesn’t look like the picture we want it to be. For example, when we meet people from another culture, we may feel at first that they don’t do things like we do.  However, when we look at them in a slightly different way and try to find something we can recognize in them, we find they do fit in.  We are all made of the same material and we all have similar dimensions – mentally as well as physically, don’t we?

We are part of one big mosaic – and the one the students created here today symbolizes that bigger one.  It is entirely fitting that the father of the nation is in the centre of it
Robert L. Fielding  


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