Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum decided to open up to world with his book entitled, “My vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence” that was published recently. In his book, he uncovered the idea upon which Dubai had been established and upon which future plans have been based. For the Arabs, we need Dubai as an inspiration of a successful experience to prove that it can be done. We have spoken for many years about Singapore, China, India, the Czech Republic and other countries, which are geographically situated far from the Arab region, but their circumstances are different and justifications can be found for why their models would fail in the Arab world. Dubai is a local model and a neighboring country that could easily be examined, compared and imitated.
Dubai is not merely a suitable model for oil-rich countries but rather an appropriate example for all Arab countries. Syria, Morocco and Sudan could learn from Dubai’s experience where once the oil reserves had diminished to the extent that the security forces could not be paid their salaries. In his book, Sheikh Mohammed described problems as challenges, as challenges can be overcome as long as there is strong will to do so.
In his book, he tackled a number of important issues, such as the administrative relapse of governments. He attributed this problem to the tendency of rejecting change that is prevalent in bureaucratic authorities. Regarding this, he said, “A leader must realize the reasons behind the rejection of change. When one is accustomed to a certain lifestyle, he would definitely reject and oppose anything else.” Dubai’s architect and leader said that he encouraged a way of thinking but did not force this saying, “I used all methods possible to convince the majority.” He added, “When people are convinced of change, they will start changing themselves and what surrounds them. When this takes place, they will discover interesting aspects of their jobs that they had never been familiar with before.”
One of the most important questions that had always puzzled me was how did the people of Dubai deal with foreigners as an integral part of their society? Throughout my many visits to different parts of the world, I know that group solidarity is a natural feature of society. All nations reject that which is unfamiliar and Arabs in particular strongly reject what is foreign. They attach social problems to foreigners living in their societies, even if these foreigners are Arabs like them. In Sheikh Mohammed’s book, he addressed this worrying matter, saying, “We do nationalize, we do not confiscate or impinge upon people’s money. We welcome immigrants to this country along with their finances. People coming from India, Lebanon, Pakistan, the United States, Syria, Egypt, France and another 150 different countries adopt a similar rejection; however, soon enough they integrate into society. Nobody in Dubai lives on the margin. Dubai is culturally an Arab country and its aspirations are global in terms of concepts and excellence.” There is no doubt that such openness and prosperity is evidence for all those who are ambitious. The elimination of any members in society would entail a huge amount of envy and selfishness and success and envy never go together.
Finally, I advise those, who seek a road map to success in our region that has long been addicted to failures, to understand why Dubai is witnessing this success rather than simply looking at its buildings, markets, airports and the number of its tourists. It is important to understand why many people would leave a huge country such as Egypt and a country as beautiful as Morocco for Dubai. Why would foreigners enroll their children in Dubai’s schools and invest their finances into its markets? The answer is simply that they confide in the administration of Dubai.