A fu­ture path for Dubai

Other Voices

Arab Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kha­laf Ah­mad Al Habtoor UAE Busi­ness­man

How truly blessed we Emi­ratis are! I am from the gen­er­a­tion born into an era of hard­ship and I never cease to mar­vel at my home­land’s spec­tac­u­lar trans­for­ma­tion seeded in the 1960s and 1970s by the rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, great lead­ers with an abun­dance of pa­tience and fore­sight. To­gether they mapped out a fu­ture that no­body could imag­ine.

All my re­spect to HH Sheikh Khal­ifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and HH Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid Al Mak­toum for build­ing on the foun­da­tions painstak­ingly laid by their late fathers to cre­ate a safe and se­cure coun­try of­fer­ing un­par­al­leled life­styles that to­day stands as a tem­plate for a trou­bled re­gion, if not the world.

We re­cently cel­e­brated Sheikh Mo­hammed’s 50 years of ser­vice to the na­tion in his ca­pac­ity as Vice-Pres­i­dent, Prime Min­is­ter, Min­is­ter of De­fence and Ruler of Dubai. He was des­tined to shoul­der a heavy man­tel at a young age, which he em­braced un­flinch­ingly and en­er­get­i­cally. He is a vi­sion­ary for whom noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble.

His cre­ative think­ing has propelled Dubai ahead of the global curve in ev­ery field. His car­ing na­ture and per­sonal dig­nity have won the hearts of cit­i­zens and ex­pa­tri­ates alike. I was per­son­ally touched that he re­cently took time out of his packed sched­ule to pay his re­spects to my fam­ily on the pass­ing of my el­der brother with a visit to my ma­jlis. His friend­ship has meant a lot to me since those care­free days when we raced our camels.

“A true leader does not de­rive power from his po­si­tion but from his ethics, from peo­ple’s love for him, and from his knowl­edge, ed­u­ca­tion and ex­cel­lence in his field of work,” he once wrote.

“The goals are clear, the road is paved and the clock ticks; there is no place for hes­i­ta­tion. There are many who talk, we ac­com­plish,” he is quoted say­ing. Sheikh Mo­hammed is al­ways think­ing ahead, his mind re­lent­lessly burst­ing with new ideas.

Mark­ing his 50th an­niver­sary of lead­er­ship he has pub­lished a blue­print for the fu­ture, a pledge ti­tled “50-year Char­ter’ carv­ing out Dubai’s eco­nomic, tech­no­log­i­cal, ed­u­ca­tional and phil­an­thropic up­wards tra­jec­tory, that will be re­viewed each

com­ing 4th of Jan­uary.

Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, he has em­pha­sized “the eight defin­ing prin­ci­ples on which Dubai was founded” in a doc­u­ment con­tain­ing these head­ings: “The Union is the Foun­da­tion”; “No one is above the law”; “We are a busi­ness cap­i­tal”, “Three fac­tors de­rive growth”; “Our so­ci­ety has a unique per­son­al­ity”; “We be­lieve in eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion”; “A land for tal­ent”, and “We care about fu­ture gen­er­a­tions”.

Yes, we do care deeply about fu­ture gen­er­a­tions as well as our youth in whose hands our coun­try and its cit­i­zens’ well­be­ing will one day rest. I can­not stress enough how im­por­tant it is for all our peo­ple, es­pe­cially those start­ing out to ap­pre­ci­ate my gen­er­a­tion’s strug­gles, to build upon our achieve­ments in terms of eco­nomic growth and to strive for the high­est stan­dards in ed­u­ca­tion, health­care, re­search as well as en­vi­ron­men­tal and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances.

Our young peo­ple are ar­guably the luck­i­est on the planet. All doors are open to them. Young men and women ben­e­fit from the finest ed­u­ca­tional and equal-op­por­tu­nity ca­reer open­ings in a multi-cul­tural, har­mo­nious coun­try where hap­pi­ness is high on the government’s strat­egy. They en­joy free­doms we never dreamt of. I am con­stantly as­ton­ished by the ex­tent of their knowl­edge and ca­pac­ity to think out of the box.

There were no en­ter­tain­ment venues when I was their age. Our time was largely spent seek­ing food for our­selves and our live­stock. We did not have mo­bile phones, com­put­ers or any­thing else con­sid­ered es­sen­tial nowa­days. Our only leisure pur­suits were hunt­ing, fish­ing, swim­ming and camel rac­ing. We were guided by our faith in God, our un­break­able fam­ily ties, our time­less tra­di­tions and a so­ci­ety in which we were all broth­ers and sis­ters. We did not con­struct high-rises but the art of liv­ing was char­ac­ter-build­ing.

When­ever I spend time with my grand­chil­dren I come away feel­ing re­freshed and of­ten learn some­thing new. How­ever, learn­ing is a twoway street. The fu­ture is theirs, but the foun­da­tions of their benefice must be pre­served. Sheikh Mo­hammed’s eight defin­ing prin­ci­ples guid­ing Dubai must be ad­hered to. Fash­ions and life­styles change. Progress is liberating. But with re­spect to our cul­ture, val­ues and ethics old is gold.

Our pre­cious chil­dren and grand­chil­dren must never be per­mit­ted to for­get their roots or the prin­ci­pals of those who handed them the torch whose flame glows ever brighter. We must teach them not to rest on their lau­rels or fall into the ‘easy come, easy go’ trap.

They should be re­minded that they are the re­cip­i­ents of the great­est gift of all, a moth­er­land that must be trea­sured, pro­tected and fiercely de­fended with hard work and a staunch pa­tri­otic spirit. One of the truths that gov­ern my own life is “Ask not what a coun­try can do for you, ask what you can do for your coun­try”. I would add that those of us who can must open our hearts and our pock­et­books to as­sist the needy wher­ever they may be.

My ad­vice to my com­pa­tri­ots is to re­sist the temp­ta­tion to take their good for­tune for granted. Ev­ery­one must rise to the chal­lenge of com­plet­ing the government’s fu­ture strate­gies while build­ing on the prin­ci­ples that have served us so well.

We only have to look around us to see mil­lions upon mil­lions less for­tu­nate con­signed to freeze in rain­soaked tents or risk­ing their lives hop­ing to find sanc­tu­ary in for­eign lands to feel thank­ful that since its birth the UAE has prof­ited from wise and sta­ble gov­er­nance.

When we wit­ness the po­lit­i­cal chaos that over­shad­ows the mighty US, Bri­tain and nu­mer­ous other Euro­pean capi­tals we should feel hum­bled and priv­i­leged to be a part of a coun­try where the only mass out­door gath­er­ings are oc­ca­sions for smiles.

“An easy life does not make men, nor does it build na­tions. Chal­lenges make men, and it is these men who build na­tions,” said Sheikh Mo­hammed. Never a truer word!

We who dug wells in sand, fished and gath­ered dates to sur­vive have done our bit al­though the odds were stacked high against us. My mes­sage to our Emi­rati youth is soon it will be over to you. Make us proud! Judg­ing by all the young­sters I have met, I know you will.

Al Habtoor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.