A 100 years might seem like an eternity, but not for Japanese watchmaker, Citizen. The watch brand recently celebrated its centennial and believes that time is not measured in seconds but in steps taken forward. And it’s taking giant steps to ensure that the next century sees it making remarkable contributions to society that go beyond pioneering horological advancements with a brand new campaign called #MyBetterStartsNow, inspired by the brand’s tagline, Better Starts Now.

As part of the campaign, Citizen is on the hunt for inspiring citizens of the UAE whose drive and ambition for a particular social cause, charity or field is changing the world for the better and are making a positive impact in their communities.

‘#MyBetterStartsNow movement stems from the simple belief that it is always possible to make something better, and that now is the time to start doing it,’ says Keiji Kato, general manager of Citizen.

‘Citizen has created many industry firsts since its founding in 1918, but we don’t live in our past glories, our sights are firmly set forward,’ he adds. The brand has consistently produced trailblazing technology such as light-powered watches in its Eco-Drive collection and intelligent satellite technology that adjusts time, date and location automatically anywhere in the world via time signals received from GPS satellites. This journey, however, has been more than just crafting exquisite time pieces, explains Kato. ‘It’s about tackling an endless series of challenges to provide the world with something better.’

And through the #MyBetterStartsNow campaign, Citizen is seeking to celebrate individuals who have similar stories of overcoming change and obstacles in their journey to making the world a better place.

But here’s the thing about everyday heroes and agents of change — they walk amongst us without a cape, making it hard to recognise the ordinary people and their extraordinary contributions to making the world a better place. Which is why, Citizen needs your help to celebrate the unsung heroes of our communities and put them under the limelight they deserve, as well as give them Dh25,000 to support and further their special cause or project.

Think about it, we all know someone who embodies altruism in quiet unassuming ways — perhaps a classmate who spends her summers teaching underprivileged kids, a neighbour who launched a recycling drive in your locality or a colleague who finds time to train and run marathons to raise money for cancer research.

Not quite sure who fits the bill? You can visit Citizen’s website and get to know its #MyBetterStartsNow ambassadors — Emirati innovation specialist Reem Al Marzouqi, Diaa Allam, a Dubai-based Egyptian calligraphy artist, Indian motivational speaker Simerjeet Singh and British national Katie Pattison-Hart, who rowed across the Atlantic to raise awareness about human trafficking. These four individuals are the campaign’s ambassadors because they are prime examples of Citizen’s belief that no matter who you are and what you do, it is always possible to create a better tomorrow and embody the qualities the #MyBetterStartsNow campaign is seeking in entrants — they are leading lights in their chosen fields and have overcome their own set of challenges and obstacles to make a difference in the world.

‘Their role in the campaign involves telling their own inspirational stories through social media channels, thereby encouraging other members of the population to come forward with theirs,’ explains Kato.

Here’s how you can do it — if you know of friends or family (or even if you yourself) who are fostering change and helping people through a charitable initiative, social work, or an invention, nominate them by sending their stories to info@citizengulf.ae.

Take a leaf out of the campaign and don’t wait for tomorrow — do it now!

Meet the ambassadors

Diaa Allam, Calligraphy artist


What does the tagline ‘better starts now’ mean to you personally?

Better Starts Now, to me, simply means it’s never too late to rewrite your story and make a change. I was an urban planner by profession, but art always inspired me. After many years of self-reflection, I knew I had to make a change. That leap of faith you make, can be the most rich, fulfilling and creative time of your life.

What were challenges you faced when switching careers from urban planning to becoming an artist?

It meant risking it all — financial stability, job security and a well-settled life, but I was willing to make that jump. Everything in life has a purpose, and my purpose was to express myself, represent my culture and inspire people through the art of my tradition — Arabic calligraphy.

What kind of feedback/response do you hope this competition generates?

Quite often, people are aware of what they’re good at but never utilise the opportunity to apply those skills. I hope Citizen’s stories inspire others to make significant changes in their life that would make them healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.

Katie Pattison-Hart, record-breaking rower and fund-raiser


What does the tagline ‘better starts now’ mean to you personally?

The #MyBetterStartsNow campaign is encouraging people to be driven and to live their best life. Get out there and try new things and do small things daily that exhilarate you.

What did your journey across the Atlantic as part of the Row For Freedom team teach you?

It taught me preparation and planning are so important — we dedicated eight months to this stage, and we set our sights high on two world records. Having clarity on what you want is integral to success. Goals should be measurable, specific, achievable and realistic with a set timeline for getting them done.

How important is it to give back to the community?

We rowed across the Atlantic to give victims of human trafficking a voice. This world could be such a better place if we could all be more compassionate. We never know what people are going through, but there is a story behind every face.

Reem Al Marzouqi, Innovation Specialist

Reem Al Marzouqi

What does the tagline ‘better starts now’ mean to you personally?

I believe everyone is born with a gift and it’s our responsibility to utilise it. Once you realise your purpose you should start working towards fulfilling it, regardless of age or situation. With skill and determination, you can shape your life to be the way you want it.

What’s the most satisfying part of being an architect-turned inventor?

The process of turning an idea into a concept that benefits an individual or a society at large is what is meaningful. I never dreamt of becoming an ‘inventor’; I stumbled upon the story of Jessica Cox, the world’s first licensed armless pilot and it inspired me to invent a foot-based navigation car system. Bringing change in someone’s life was my motivation.

How has failure made you a successful inventor?

Failure is crucial — it provides perspective. I failed when I presented the navigation system idea at university and the machines wouldn’t operate when I started the project. I also had to face detractors who felt I didn’t have the right level of knowledge. That only strengthened my resolve to continue with the venture.

Simerjeet Singh, Motivational Speaker


What does the tagline ‘better starts now’ mean to you personally?

Ideas alone have no power to make a difference. It’s only when ideas are combined with consistent action that a transformation occurs. Better Starts Now is a powerful reminder to take action. Today. Now! It resonates deeply with my own approach to life.

What were some of the obstacles you overcame to become a motivational speaker?

I faced innumerable challenges in building a flourishing global speaking career from scratch. But it’s the challenges that have made this journey worthwhile. I left my previous career precisely because it had become predictable and lacked a sense of meaning and challenge.

What kind impact do you hope this competition creates?

Sometimes, all we need is a little nudge, the reassurance of a little voice that whispers “it’s possible” and I hope that this campaign will be that voice.

Send in your entries and nominations to info@citizengulf.ae. Follow the campaign on Facebook (@mycitizenwatch) and Instagram (@mycitizen). Nominees have to be 18-years-old and above. The nominations are open until mid-March 2019. Finalists will attend a special awards event where they will be recognised for their contributions and receive Citizen watches.