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His Highness Sheikh Al-Qasimi at RootsTech: What honeybees can teach us about harmony

‘It is time to make our life sweet, full of safety, friendship and love and to live in harmony,’ His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi says during RootsTech

Screenshot_2023_03_03_at_12.27.24_PM.jpg

His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi gives a keynote address in a video published during the 2023 RootsTech conference, on March 2, 2023.

Screenshot from FamilySearch.org


His Highness Sheikh Al-Qasimi at RootsTech: What honeybees can teach us about harmony

‘It is time to make our life sweet, full of safety, friendship and love and to live in harmony,’ His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi says during RootsTech

Screenshot_2023_03_03_at_12.27.24_PM.jpg

His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi gives a keynote address in a video published during the 2023 RootsTech conference, on March 2, 2023.

Screenshot from FamilySearch.org

As a child, His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi enjoyed the times his father would bring home beehives with honeycombs from the mountains. “I can remember enjoying the delicious treat and amazed that it was created by nature,” he said.

Since then, he has been fascinated by bees and the way they work in harmony collecting nectar and caring for their mother queen. The sheikh even created his own honeybee farm, Hatta Honeybee Garden.

“We can learn a lot from our bees, and I believe our world can be a more harmonious place if we can just be a bit more like bees,” he said in a keynote address exclusively for the RootsTech 2023 virtual audience. A major contributor to sustainability and food security in the United Arab Emirates, the sheikh was one of the featured keynote speakers of the annual conference.

Sua Alteza Xeique Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi, durante uma palestra de destaque em vídeo, na RootsTech 2023, em 2 de março de 2023.

His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi gives a keynote address in a video published during the 2023 RootsTech conference, on March 2, 2023.

Captura de tela da FamilySearch.org

“Bees treat each other with respect and help each other,” the sheikh continued. “It is not about ‘me,’ but ‘we.’ Their family is important to them, and they honor their mother queen bee. Bees have different roles, but they work together in harmony, recognizing that every member of their community has value.”

It might seem impossible that bees can survive and thrive in the desert climate of the United Arab Emirates. But bees and honey production are a vital part of life and history in the Arabian Peninsula. The sheikh explained, “Honey is historically important for trade and for building bridges as a gift between tribes and families.”

The United Arab Emirates is a young country, formed only about 50 years ago. Before then, people lived in tribes governed by a kingdom. “Resources were scarce and imbalanced,” the sheikh said. “For generations, our ancestors had to trade with other tribes. Our family, the Al-Quasami family, governed the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah.”

Fifty years ago, the sheikh’s grandfather, along with six other leaders of emirates, decided that uniting and working together would help everyone prosper. “Today, our country has grown and progressed so much,” he said.

We can learn a lot from our bees, and I believe our world can be a more harmonious place if we can just be a bit more like bees.

“We continue to welcome people of all nations and faiths as we believe that it takes many bees to build a successful hive,” he said. Only 11% of the country is populated by locals, and the UAE family is continually expanding. All of this was made possible by their ancestors.

The sheikh said he finds “great inspiration from learning about and remembering my ancestors and what they stood for and worked toward.”

He shared a story of his grandfather who established the first school in Ras Al Khaimah. The sheikh’s grandfather was passionate about his people getting an education, and “always encouraged and motivated his people to reach their full potential for their community and country, just like the bees who work towards the greater good,” he said.

But many families were reluctant to allow their children to attend school and leave their family businesses.

His grandfather asked to investigate one of the families who were unwilling to send their children to school. The son of this family was instructed to tell him that he wasn’t interested in school and would rather go into the family’s trading business.

“My grandfather stated: ‘If you are forcing him to not go to school, then you will be reprimanded. But if your son does not want to go to school, then he will be reproved. The decision is yours.’ The father understood and agreed to send his son to school.”

This father later became one of the deputy ministers of the country.

Screenshot_2023_03_03_at_12.29.26_PM.jpg

His Highness Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al-Qasimi gives a keynote address in a video published during the 2023 RootsTech conference, on March 2, 2023.

Screenshot from FamilySearch.org

Thanks to the work of FamilySearch and thousands of volunteers, “we are now able to learn more about our ancestors,” the sheikh said. “Technology is finally here to improve upon the storage and availability of information. Many records are old and fragile. They must be handled delicately and the information must be preserved for generations to come.

FamilySearch is working on gathering and preserving oral histories. These stories help people to be appreciative of their lineages. “Just as honeybees’ preservation is vital, so is records preservation that FamilySearch is doing,” the sheikh said.

“It is time to make our life sweet, full of safety, friendship and love and to live in harmony whether we come from the same tribe or different cultures, different beliefs or different countries, much like these beautiful honeybees.”

Watch the full keynote address on FamilySearch’s website.

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