LEAD BY EXAMPLE
His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah
THANK YOU LADIES AND gentlemen, distinguished guests, and thank you to
Arabian Business for this award of Visionary Leader of the Year. I accept this award not just for myself, but for two important groups of people: the people I am privileged to lead, and the people who have inspired me. First and foremost, I consider myself fortunate to be leading so many talented, hard-working and committed individuals.
In addition to the Emirati people, Ras Al Khaimah is also home to all races and religions – people who are helping to make this one of the greatest places in the world. This award is really for the wonderful people of Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE.
Andrew [Neil] was telling me earlier he had never actually been to Ras Al Khaimah. Well Andrew, I’d like to invite you. But you will need to spend more than one night to truly understand who we are, where we have come from and where we are going.
Ras Al Khaimah, as I’m sure you are aware, has changed significantly in a short period of time. Historically, we were known as seafarers and traders. Then we became a place of industry, with rocks, ceramics, ports and pharmaceuticals. And while we are still providing the raw materials for the region’s biggest projects, we have diversified our economy further. We are now home to start-ups, auto manufacturers, tourist attractions, residential developments and much more.
But we are not going to stop there. We see great potential and promise in our growing tourism sector. Fifteen years ago we had only one five-star hotel but today we have many. In just five years we have doubled our tourist numbers, as we had half a million visitors in 2013 and this year we expect to exceed one million. By 2025, we aim to have three million visitors.
Just as important is the fact that tourism makes up five percent of our total GDP. Going forward we expect that it will account for ten percent by 2025, which will help to further enhance the growth of our local economy.
At a time when countries across the region are looking to move away from an oil-based economy, you’ll find Ras Al Khaimah has had a diverse economy for a long time – because we didn’t have oil to begin with!
Ultimately, I believe that our true wealth is in our people, our human capital. We, the Emirati people, are a humble, generous and intelligent people with a true community spirit. Some people you meet in this world want to achieve things in their lifetime. But what’s more important is to make a mark for generations to come – and that’s what I seek to achieve. While my time on this earth is finite, Ras Al Khaimah’s success should be endless.
But how do we achieve this? I think it begins by tangibly improving the lives of the people and building stronger institutions, from government departments and services, to schools, universities, hospitals. We need to reinvent and reengineer ourselves to ensure prosperity. We need to make sure our culture and values that have enabled older generations to survive and prosper are instilled in future generations.
Culture and traditions are values that we need to keep, as they mandate us to learn and live in peace. Our values and traditions have taught us tolerance. They
“Our future success will be very much down to the hard work and success of those who came before us. They too have inspired me so much” “I believe that our true wealth is in our people, our human capital. We, the Emirati people, are a humble, generous and intelligent people with a true community spirit”
are timeless doctrines for us, especially in the age of globalisation. I believe it is just as important that we introduce the world to these values.
But our future success will be very much down to the hard work and success of those who came before us. They too have inspired me so much.
I was very moved by the video tribute from my son, Sheikh Ahmed. It reminded me of my own father, Sheikh Saqr, and what I learned from him.
Yes, I studied hard at school, but my father helped me realise that knowledge without wisdom is a waste. And wisdom without courage is cowardice.
So I studied harder, observed my elders, my peers and learned. Yes, I made some mistakes along the way – we all do. But the key is to learn from these mistakes, to become smarter, better and wiser. As my father once told me: “Never let fear be your worst enemy, never let it stop you from doing what you want to do. Never let arrogance stop you from learning from others. Never let humility stop you from trusting yourself.”
Like many of us in the UAE, I often feel lucky to have had two fathers: not just my own, but the late Sheikh Zayed, the father of the UAE. It is especially true in this, the Year of Zayed. He had a unique ability to see what was needed to grow his people, and then how to implement it.
As he once said: “Wealth is not money. Wealth lies in men. This is where true power lies, the power we value. This is what has convinced us to direct all our resources to build the individual, and to use the wealth which God has provided us in the service of the nation.” And that is what I strive each day to do.
However, no matter how much wealth or resources a nation has, it cannot succeed without financial prudence. A leader I greatly admired was the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Sitting with her when she visited Ras Al Khaimah, she once explained how she ran her household with great financial prudence – and how she had applied the same concept when it came to running the country, which was really just a bigger home.
She said, and I quote: “A housewife needs to manage her household and ensure everything is running well. And I take the same stance with running a country; it’s a bigger house but the same checks and balances need to be in place to ensure smooth operation.”
I would like to conclude by acknowledging and thanking the leadership of the UAE, who have created a safe and prosperous home for many. Without their vision, this country would not be the great country it is today.
“I would like to conclude by acknowledging and thanking the leadership of the UAE, who have created a safe and prosperous home for many”
RAK’s economy has grown 200 percent over the past decade thanks to the wise leadership of Sheikh Saud. He received the award from ITP Media Group CEO Ali Akawi