Dubai-born US senator hopes to bring UAE talent to New York


The first Indian-American senator in New York’s history, visited Expo 2020 as part of a US-UAE cultural exchange

Dubai-born US senator Kevin Thomas hopes to inspire New Yorkers to learn about the UAE’s vibrant culture through an exchange programme.

Thomas, the first Indian-American senator in New York’s history, also wishes to bring the UAE talent to the Big Apple. He spoke about such partnerships on Wednesday as he met Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, and several senior Emirati delegates in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“While meeting with Al Kaabi, we spoke of ways to strengthen New York and UAE relations. Often, many Broadway shows from New York City are brought to Dubai. We spoke about taking the UAE talent to New York. While nothing is confirmed at the moment, it was great to sit down with her and discuss ways to work together to improve relations between both countries,” the senator told Khaleej Times.

Thomas is leading a New York delegation to the country this week as part of a global cultural exchange at Expo 2020 Dubai. The delegation included senators James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley), Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), and John Lui (D-Queens).

Dubai-born Thomas left for the US in 1995, at the age of 10. He spent some of his childhood years in the emirate’s Satwa area.

While he has visited the UAE several times over the years — including in 2019 after he was elected to the state senate to represent the sixth district in Nassau County — this is one of his first official trips.

“It’s amazing to be back, and I’ve had a great government trip with my colleagues. It’s been great having them experience the UAE culture and heritage and sit in on meetings with top UAE lawmakers,” Thomas said.

He is amazed by the incredible transformation the UAE has undergone over the past decades.

“I don’t recognise most of the old neighbourhoods anymore. Take the land where the Expo stands at the moment, for example. It is amazing to see the transformation. It speaks volumes of the vision that the UAE leaders have that goes decades into the future,” he said, as he praised the country’s leadership for investing heavily in infrastructure.

Expo 2020 Dubai, he said, is a sight to behold.

“I did not expect anything less from Dubai. They have been able to showcase what Dubai is all about by making sure that the Expo showcases their architectural brilliance,” Thomas added.

He noted how the US Pavilion highlighted the country’s accomplishments in various sectors, including space.


Despite the challenges organisers faced in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Dubai was able to deliver a remarkable World Expo, he said.

He hailed how the emirate “was able to balance the need for that personal experience and protect its people and visitors from Covid-19”.

He added: “In a post-Covid world, everything needs to come back to normal. We need to let go of Zoom meetings and other non-personal gathering methods. We need to make make sure it’s safe.”

In 2021, the senator introduced a resolution to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Union of the UAE by declaring December 2 as Emirati Day in New York state.

Besides the Expo visit, the US delegation also met with Dr Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, head of the Parliamentary Division of the Federal National Council.

The senators toured the Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque with Dr Yousef Al Obaidli, director-general of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre in Abu Dhabi, and the director-general of the Founder’s Memorial for the late Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the UAE.

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