Dubai Taxi driver nurtures hidden talent

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On shift from 4 p.m. until 4 a.m. daily, Taxi driver Hamza Erimakunnath journeys Dubai roads to earn his livelihood and support his family back home in Kerala, India. However, he uses his precious free time to practice an extraordinary talent.

Distributed last week, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) released a calendar showcasing 12 paintings by Hamza.

The calendar represents the enormous talent and commitment of the 39-year-old taxi driver who has pursued his passion for painting despite the demands of a hectic job.

“I could not have asked for anything better in my life,” he told Gulf News.

Hamza’s talent was earlier recognized by RTA in an internal talent show in which he took first place. “On National Day, two years ago, I won RTA’s talent contest. From then on, my manager has been supporting me, but to be part of the RTA calendar is the greatest moment for me.”

“My happiness knew no bounds when RTA approached me in the middle of January to make water-color paintings of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the calendar. They also gave me a month’s leave for the task,” said Hamza, who earns 4,000 AED monthly.

Filled with several oil paintings of UAE leaders, his room in Al Nahda, Sharjah resembles an art studio with a massive 58 x 40 inch portrayal of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, with Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“I saw this picture in a book and decided to paint it. It took me two months to finish it.”

Erimakunnath considers his most successful piece to be a 32 x 23 inch portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan smiling at a falcon. “It’s a black and white piece and I am very excited about it.”

Working the night shift 12 hours a day, it is difficult to believe he still has the energy to pursue such a time consuming hobby.

“Where there is a will there is a way. My family lives in India and I miss them a lot. I want to spend every minute of my life – away from them – in a useful way. Painting helps me do that.”

Hamza began developing his talent at the age of five.

“In my home town, I struggled to get my paintings to reach the right people. But here in Dubai, thanks to my company and their support, I have been able to maximize my talent.”

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