Before he took office as Ambassador, Sierra Leone was little known in this part of the world, but his rebranding techniques has prompted Emiratis to visit and help Sierra Leone on a number of occasions. And Emirati Investors have also expressed interest in visiting Sierra Leone in the not-distant future to invest in the Energy, Tourism, Agriculture, Mining, Marine, Aviation and Telecommunications sectors.
Prior to President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s appointment of Architect Siray Alpha Timbo as Ambassador to the UAE, the fine gentleman was the Special Envoy of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the UAE, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Middle East from 2009 up to the time of his appointment.
He also served as the Chairman of the Presidential Implementation Committee on Investment and Development (PICID) in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and Middle East.
Before becoming his country’s top diplomat in the UAE, he was also the Chairman and Commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) – a position he held from 2008 - 2013. As Chair and Commissioner of NATCOM, Mr. Timbo embarked on restructuring the Commission in terms of personnel, focus and policy direction. He and six other Commissioners collectively advised the President on matters of telecommunications, television and wireless broadcasting services.
Envoy Timbo who is also the Proprietor and Chairman of MJ Motels in the provincial towns of Makeni, Port Loko and Kabala from 2005 to date was widely known in the country as an established Architect running a very successful architectural firm, IDEAS Limited - a firm which largely influence the national infrastructural landscape as evidenced in many projects, including, SLTU, NASSIT, RITCORP, Banks, Hotels, Hospitals, Cooperate Offices, among many others.
IDEAS Limited also provided consulting services for projects financed by the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Development Bank (AfDB), UNOPS, BADEA, Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union.
Besides his architectural prowess, Ambassador Tmbo is well known for his leadership qualities, good interpersonal relationship with people and his unending compassion and generosity for the needy.
Because of his openness and generosity, his office in Freetown was often jam-packed with visitors who wanted their numerous problems to be solved by him and he would willingly offer them what they wanted. He assisted thousands of Sierra Leoneans (and still assisting) in need before he took up his Ambassadorial appointment.
His kind heartedness, patriotism and generosity seemed to have sharpened his performance in his diplomatic mission and I am sure President Koroma is very proud to have made the right choice by appointing him as Ambassador to this region.
Because of his love for his country and people, he had sleepless nights during the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone. The soft-spoken Ambassador engaged the authorities of UAE and several institutions to see how best they would aid Sierra Leone in the fight against Ebola. The outcome of his efforts to solicit assistance for Sierra Leone was very positive and thank God the deadly epidemic has finally been declared over by the World Health Organization (WHO).
In his usual engagement with Sierra Leoneans in the UAE, Ambassador Siray Timbo has always harped on patriotism and the necessity to contribute to national development as true Sierra Leoneans, instead of thinking regionally or with ethno-centricity. He has always appealed to them to put the country first and contribute to its development.
He always appeal to Sierra Leonenan businessmen in and outside the second and commercial city of Dubai to prioritize the investment of their resources back home in order to create job opportunities for their brothers and sisters.
“It feels like home for us in the UAE, in that; this is the first time we have got a diplomatic representative in this country that cares for our welfare and always consults with us on national issues,” Ibrahim Talleh Bah, President of the Sierra Leone Union and businessman told me at the Dubai Mall this afternoon.
Sierra Leoneans, he added, are delighted that they have now got a diplomatic mission in the UAE and they are enthused about contributing towards national development for the benefit of their people back home.
The Ambassador and his Embassy Staff are working very hard to identify every Sierra Leonean living in the UAE in order to know their concerns and how to address them at all costs. The Ambassador’s concerns about the welfare of fellow compatriots have made him a hero in the Sierra Leonean community in the UAE; that is very appreciative of his efforts to reconcile and unite them for the development of their country.
Another Sierra Leonean businessman in the UAE, who is very impressed about Siray Timbo’s love for fellow Sierra Leoneans, told me that if only all Sierra Leoneans would be as compassionate and generous as the Ambassador, Sierra Leone would be at absolute peace; where no one would think of partisan, regional or tribal differences.
“Ambassador Siray Timbo is a likeable Ambassador who has brought all Sierra Leoneans together in the UAE. And this has never happened until President Koroma saw it fit to establish a diplomatic mission here for which we are very grateful as Sierra Leoneans,” said the businessman.
He believes that it is time for them to start contributing to national development through the admonition of the shrewd Ambassador. Many Sierra Leoneans I have spoken to since my arrival in the UAE early this week about the performance of Ambassador Timbo have made complimentary remarks about his kind person; thereby commending the President for giving them a perfect gentleman as their Ambassador.
Ambassador Timbo has so far justified why President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma appointed him to represent his country in the UAE by not only rebranding Sierra Leone and wooing investors to invest in his country, but also by making Sierra Leoneans in this oil-rich Gulf State have a sense of belonging and that their Government cares for them greatly even when they are far away from home.
He has in every meeting with the Sierra Leonean community reminded them of their duties, responsibilities and obligations as Sierra Leoneans and urged them to portray the true image of their country abroad; instead of involving in issues that would bring bad name to the country.
Ambassador Timbo is seen by the Sierra Leonean community in the UAE as a mentor, adviser and true brother who always expresses concern over their welfare to ensure that they are not hurt by the authorities of the UAE. He is held in high esteem for his patriotism, diplomatic finesse, compassion and generosity towards humanity.
To crown it all, the Envoy is doing an exemplary work in the UAE by rebranding the country, wooing investors to do business in Sierra Leone, bringing Sierra Leoneans together and admonishing them to be nationalistic and instrumental to national development, and using his professionalism in International Relations in engaging the appropriate authorities in the diplomatic circles on the issue of national development. In short, Ambassador Siray Timbo is an embodiment of true brotherhood, diplomacy and patriotism.