Dubai inspires and grows

How did this emirate with a population of just 3.3 million people grow its GDP to Dh389 billion?


Mustafa Al Zarooni

Published: Mon 27 Aug 2018, 9:44 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Aug 2018, 11:45 PM

Dubai's robust model of governance has enabled the emirate to attract the best in terms of expertise and capital. In fact, efficiency in governance, combined with expertise and capital, has allowed this non-oil exporting emirate to accomplish a lot over the years. The city has emerged as a beacon of hope and inspiration, especially in the region where many countries are caught in a political and social quagmire. Several nations look up to this emirate and have tried to emulate the Dubai model.

But how did this emirate with its scarce recourses fare better than some oil exporting countries, where oil represents almost 90 per cent of income? How did this emirate with a population of just 3.3 million people grow its GDP to Dh389 billion?

A closer look at how the government functions can shed some light on this. There are 25 government departments, manned by 60,000 employees, that streamline the governance of this emirate. The government departments sustain themselves on the income generated from the services rendered and infrastructure offered. In fact, the system works so efficiently that these departments make profits.

The emirate has a strong heritage and the present leadership continues to follow in the footsteps of its founding rulers whose legacy is witnessed by all. Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum promoted freedom of speech even during the early days when he was ruler of Dubai from 1912 to 1958. He encouraged people to voice their views and opinions in a democratic manner.

Dubai continues to encourage transparency, respects freedom of opinion, and its government accepts criticism with respect. This liberty has been extended to the media industry as well. And it is this spirit of openness that has helped attract talent from around the globe to this emirate. This distinguishes Dubai - this principle of allowing not just the powerful to express themselves, but also letting the voices of investors and the common man and woman be heard. It makes this place different from other modern cities.

The founder of Dubai, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, played a monumental role in the rise of the city and set it on the path of development. He envisioned transforming the Dubai Creek into an important seaport, which made a world of difference to the emirate and allowed trade to thrive. Till date, Dubai Creek remains an important driver of trade growth for the emirate.

And over the years as investments poured into the infrastructure sector Dubai continued to develop. The airport, for instance, which opened in 1960, was a humble refuelling station for aircraft in the early years of operation. But today, it has emerged as a modern crossroad between the East and the West and is among the busiest in the world. The Jebel Ali seaport, which opened in 1972, has contributed immensely to the rise of Dubai as a trading and re-export hub. The port is the best in the Middle East, and has allowed its operator DP World to expand its portfolio across continents. The company today is the third largest port operator in the world with 77 marine stations spread over six continents, with investments in 40 countries.

The efficiently managed ports and airports together offer a strong foundation for developing businesses in the emirate and the region at large.

It was at the turn of the century that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, took over the reins in Dubai, and since then development has accelerated incrementally. Today, Dubai has become one of the best cities to work and live in the world.

There is no dearth of achievements here and Dubai continues to impress. The metro, the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall, Palm islands, have all become landmarks in a short span of time. The success of free zones too has helped reinforce confidence in the business environment here.

Dubai's arguably the place where miracles happen by sheer dint of hard work and smart government policymaking. Dreams are realised by those who dare to work and succeed. Today, 5,600 companies function in this emirate, employing people from over 162 countries.

All this would not have been possible without the vision of our great leaders. Sheikh Mohammed deserves a special mention here as he continued his father's legacy and transforms Dubai. His efforts in transforming the Dubai Creek into an integrated waterway played a vital role and helped Dubai become an island of investments and housing projects.

As many as 23,000 young entrepreneurs in the Arab world are thriving here even as 155 leaders from government agencies from around the world have been trained in the city.

Dubai is equally conscious of the charitable work that needs to be done and ensures that the less privileged are helped and allowed the means to grow and thrive. The government has helped build 2,126 schools globally and printed and distributed 3.2 million books benefitting 10 million children.

The mindset of the leadership and people in general here has helped Dubai flourish and not simply rest on its laurels.

Anybody who has followed Dubai's growth story will notice that its government and its people are in sync, working together towards the emirate's overall performance. This has developed a healthy competitive environment, which brings out the best in people. The government does not set limits on the private sector. It has allowed investors to grow their ventures and attract talent from around the globe. "We have inherited the positive energy from Zayed and Rashid," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. "I am pleased with the people who do their duty with all diligence."

What sets Dubai apart is its pride in its cultural heritage and a progressive mindset that allows it to keep pace with the modern world. What matters here is ethical success. Opportunities keep coming for people who dare to dream and carry the torch lighted by the leaders.

This city is for inventors, investors and entrepreneurs, those who are restless and who want to make a difference to humanity. Indeed, this is a smart city that makes dreams come true.    

More news from OPINION