To encourage foreign investment, you have to create the right environment'

PERHAPS NO other place is as conscious of the concept of quality as Dubai. In the hierarchy of corporate ideas, the quality concept commands the top rung here. It is certainly a distinct focus...

By Vijay Dandige (Contributor)

Published: Sat 7 Apr 2007, 9:11 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:46 PM

foreignof the Dubai government. Quality is espoused, sought-after, cultivated, nurtured, recognised and honoured. And there is no greater example of this than the Feigenbaum Leadership Excellence Award, which was bestowed last week in Dubai.

The award is named after Dr Armand Val Feigenbaum, president and CEO of General Systems, Inc, an international engineering firm who is also famous as the 'Father of Total Quality Control.' He is the originator of Total Quality Management, the approach to quality and profitability that has profoundly influenced management strategy in the competition for world markets in the USA, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has been awarded numerous medals and honours by quality associations around the world. Several editions of his popular book, Total Quality Control have been published in many languages. He is an honorary advisor to e-TQM College, Dubai, and supports the college's endeavours in spreading quality knowledge in the Arab world.

The Feigenbaum Leadership Excellence Award is dedicated to honour men and women in the Arab world for their exemplary leadership in driving their organisations to fulfil their role in business and society; for their uncompromising style to instigate a quality approach and culture to work and for acting as role models to all.

Given in four categories: Accomplishers, Exceptionals, Women Leaders and Rising Stars, the award is administered by the Virtual Executive Club (VEC) at the e-TQM College in Dubai. VEC is an organisation of management executives who make strategic and tactical decisions and assume important responsibilities in their ogranisations, whether in the public or private sector. VEC's mission is to nurture and develop executive managers in the Arab world and to provide them with state-of-the-art tools and techniques that can enable them to be effective, confident and innovative in their quest for delivering extraordinary performance results to their organisations.

Thus, the Feigenbaum Leadership Excellence Award is meant to encourage the growth and development of organisation competitiveness through the instigation of exemplary leadership, to place emphasis on quality and the drive to continuous improvement, to encourage the practice of long term thinking and sustainable performance, and the behavioural mindset that builds successions of effective and able leaders at all levels.

The award carries several benefits. The winners' names are inscribed in the 'Hall of Fame' as role models and accomplished leaders. They are featured in a film and their style is documented to help inspire others. And their organisation is featured in one of the e-TQM College's publication.

Last year, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was the recipient of the first award, as an exceptional leader, which closed that category of prizes, but raised the bar for the other existing awards.

Last week, the second of the Feigenbaum Leadership Excellence Award was conferred on His Excellency Abdulla Hasan Saif in the Accomplished Leader category. Dr Armand Val Feigenbaum also attended as an honorary guest in Dubai for the first time ever to present the award.

Holder of Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters, University of DePaul, Chicago and a degree of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK, Abdulla Hasan Saif has an illustrious career. He has held several important posts, including Minister of Finance and National Economy, Bahrain, Governor of Arab Monetary Fund, Governor of International Monetary Fund and The World Bank, Governor of Islamic Development Bank, and many others.

He was chosen for his outstanding leadership, locally, regionally and globally, in multifarious ways, including in international financial sector, licensing, supervision and regulation; in the successful management of an economy with limited natural resources; in chairing a leading regional financial institution, Gulf International Bank; in focusing upon the development of the Kingdom of Bahrain's indigenous human resources; and in promoting international free trade and investment flows, as well as in sustaining and expanding the country's international relations across cultures and regions, through bilateral relations as well as through serving as the regional representative on boards and committees of leading multilateral institutions.

Both Dr Feigenbaum and His Excellency Abdulla Hasan Saif spoke to the City Times in an informal chat about the award.

Dr Feigenbaum, could you tell us how did the award come about?

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his colleagues established, greatly, in my honour the objective of recognising clear leadership for quality; recognising that excellence and exceptional performance does have a relevance to quality. They advised me that they'd bring honour to it by putting our name on this, much more than we deserve. And we were of course delighted to agree to that, because it was a recognition that in today's kind of world quality makes every thing better, and that it is a characteristic of leadership, of contribution.

In the first year, as the establishment of an exceptional award, the jury had to make a selection of a person who by his own career and his own contribution identified the exceptional award. And we were delighted that His Highness Shaikh Mohammed accepted being that awardee, so that then future awards would identify excellence.

And this year when we learnt that His Excellency Abdulla Hasan Saif would be the recipient, we were particularly delighted, knowing about his contribution, his career, and about his deep commitment to quality. His Excellency's brilliant record provides ample evidence of his distinguished service, in his leadership capacities, to the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Muslim World, the Arab nations and, indeed, to the world at large.

Your Excellency, how do you feel about this honour?

As I said at the award ceremony, I was overwhelmed by this gracious honour that was bestowed on me. And I dedicate it to my country, Bahrain, the leadership of Bahrain and the people of Bahrain, and particularly the people who worked with me in my career in various organisations, both in public and private sector. They have been a great help. And also, last but not the least, to the members of my family from whom I have received great support. All of them have encouraged me to achieve what I have achieved, in a modest way, and all the responsibilities in the organisations that have been assigned to me.

Of course, the confidence and trust given to me by His Majesty the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and of course His Highness the Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa have helped me to achieve, in a modest way, what I have achieved. And I hope this modest achievement will contribute to the development of Bahrain , as well as to my second country, the UAE, and other countries in the Arab world, and internationally, where I have gathered a great many friends and associations, from United States to China. I have a wide range of friends all over the world, and I can proudly say that I am global person.

What is the status of Bahrain's economy, and what is your vision for it?

I think Bahrain will continue to sustain the growth that it has been achieving every year - a steady growth of about six per cent on GDP every year. And I think, given the strategic outlook of the Bahrain leadership for the economy, as well as the fundamentals around Bahrain's economy, particularly having the level of oil prices, will help Bahrain sustain the growth it has targeted itself to achieve. And more than the economic growth, the quality and style of life created in Bahrain is really important. It is an objective that the Bahrain leadership is putting top priority to.

You have been credited with the successful management of an economy with limited resources. What were some of the challenges you faced while doing this, and how did you overcome them?

One of the challenges was to achieve sustainable growth, with some of the objective being to have more housing, to do more with the health sector, educational sector, with limited financial resources. And it is very important to make both sides meet, and particularly, to inject fiscal discipline. So, that's really the key to it, when you are responsible for limited resources, and the demand for the resources exceeds the supply.

You have to take care of the fiscal side, so that your numbers add up to achieve your objectives. When I was Mr Finance that was the top priority: to have the fiscal side balance and to inject fiscal discipline, so that the budget didn't go into unbearable deficit. And also, to appropriate the right resources for the targeted objectives: housing and the important sectors that affect the lives of people.

And how did you manage to bring about this fiscal discipline?

I think the budget is the instrument with which you can inject discipline. And of course, you need the cooperation of other colleagues of the cabinet to ensure the objective of having less deficit, or achieving objectives with reasonable resources. Also, it is not necessary that you achieve objectives through your own resources. You could achieve some of them by outsourcing or contracting out. So, we started outsourcing or contracting out through a privatisation programme. The Bahrain government started long time ago to outsource some of the services like, for example, utility services, municipality services. You can really outsource and this lessens the burden on the fiscal side. Moreover, the added value of outsourcing is that you are encouraging the private sector to play a greater role in the economy.

What was your plan to attract foreign investments into the country?

The most important thing to encourage foreign direct investment is to create the right environment, which is congenial to investment from outside. Stability is very important and, transparency of course. And also to have incentives that encourage foreign direct investments to come to the country. And this is the Bahrain government's basic programme, and I hope to fulfil it.

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