Ajman was an unfamiliar name that he had read about on some stamps in his collection when he was a child and didn't know where to place on the world map. Thinking back on it today, after 25 years of living in the UAE, it seems almost a sign of destiny. Piero Ricotti, Managing Director of Tecnosistemi Solutions, Ex-President of the Italian Industry & Commerce Office in the UAE (IICUAE) for 10 years and Director in other important companies, after a quarter of a century here in the desert, has seen Dubai and the other emirates grow and transform.
Born in a small village in the Piedmontese Alps, on the slopes of Monte Rosa, in the province of Vercelli, Ricotti began travelling to the UAE in 1994, when moving between Deira and Jebel Ali, the two extremes of the city, was almost a journey, with lots of sand and very few buildings.
As a profound connoisseur of this region of the world, Ricotti speaks about the direction in which the country is going and how he landed in Dubai. "My case was truly a case of serendipity. I was working in Milan at 'Italtel', a large company in the telecommunications sector. At that time, we took part almost by chance in a tender for Etisalat, the telecommunications operator of the Emirates. We were selected among 27 participants from all over the world. To make a long story short, what should have been a three-month stay, just for the start of the works, turned into a presence that lasts even now, although with several changes at the company level. It has been a nice experience for me, both professionally and personally."
Ricotti describes his early days in Dubai as a day of transformation and growth. Adding about what has impressed him in these years, Ricotti added: "What has impressed me most is certainly, in a simple combination, 'plan and execute'. The capacity that exists in the emirates to plan and execute works in the right way and on time. The leadership and government organisations perform remarkably well in project management." Speaking about his overall journey in the UAE, Ricotti mentions the unforgettable last decade, where UAE has seen unexceptional growth. "The second thing that has surprised me in the last decade is the visible part of the country. The tangible assets are exceptional in everyone's eyes like the tallest tower in the world and the other records of the city. The part that is even more striking is the fact that there is a synagogue and a church under construction, one next to the other, together with a mosque. There is a Ministry of Happiness or even a Ministry for Artificial Intelligence is astonishing. The profound attention to all aspects of, let's say, immaterial growth, which then also becomes material, struck me deeply. This tolerance and respect for all people, for all religions, is teaching," explained Ricotti. He further added: "In different historical moments the barycenters change. An example of the famous House of Knowledge in Baghdad, or the Roman Empire, but also of China or the Italian Renaissance." Ricotti calls the precise moment a fantastic journey for UAE in the future. "I am convinced that in twenty, thirty or forty years, our children's school books will be reading about Dubai and the UAE; how the country imagined and created the future."
Ricotti describes the old times of 1995-96 when travelling between Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali was a journey. He also spoke about the vision of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. "I would not like to find myself like those gentlemen at the time of Sheikh Rashid who said he was building too much and then his vision was correct. I have a judgment of great confidence and certainty that the choices he made turned out to be the best for the country."
"When late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum decided to put his hand in Port Rashid, the ships arriving were still few, and the consultants suggested that the port was already big enough. He decided to double it, yet the ships were not there. He also opened another port, Jebel Ali, which is now one of the most important ports in the world. "In Ghantoot, there was a police check as you changed emirates. There was only one hotel at Jebel Ali; it was unthinkable to imagine that one day it would all be built," he further added.
Concluding his thoughts, Ricotti said: "I'm excited about this country because it has made me grow professionally, culturally, and humanely. It has been and is, for me, a continuous enrichment. I can't find what I don't like."
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