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Dubai seeks 'change in interests of public'

posted on 13/01/2008: 777 views



The Arab world's 80 million jobseekers are an "extraordinary resources for nation building", and the Dubai 'model' can help them break out of poverty and unemployment, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said in an opinion piece entitled 'Our Ambitions in the Middle East' published in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday.

"We live in a tough neighbourhood ... despite all that, Dubai has learned how to reinvent itself and cope," Sheikh Mohammad said in the article. "If we can take our vision out of Dubai, I think we can save a lot of young people from humiliating unemployment, from becoming extremists."

The opinion piece was published in the New York-based business paper on Saturday to coincide with President George W. Bush's trip to the UAE, where he is expected in Abu Dhabi on Sunday and Dubai on Monday.

Targeted towards the American business elite, the Wall Street Journal is published in New York city and has a daily circulation of approximately two million.

"I am often asked, 'What does Dubai really want?' Well, here's my answer: What we want is the continuation of a journey that began with my forebears... Change and modernisation are inevitable in this age of galloping globalisation. But we in the Middle East need to continually and carefully calibrate that change in the public interest," he noted, adding that Dubai would like to see the less developed parts of the Middle East to be like Europe, Japan, Singapore and the rest of the industrialised world.

Commerce, more than anything, "is our leitmotif", he said, but added that bringing positive changes through commerce and education is Dubai's objective, noting that he preferred to refer to the emirate as "Catalyst Inc" as opposed to the more business centred "Dubai Inc", which the emirate has been popularly described as.

"It is true, of course, that Dubai has been a trading port and a commercial hub for several centuries. But the ethos of Dubai was, and is, all about building bridges to the outside world; it was, and is, about creating connections with different cultures".

He said Dubai has no political ambitions and is not interested in becoming a superpower or any other political power in a region that is already "over politicised", Sheikh Mohammad said.

"We don't see politics as our thing, we don't want it, we don't think this is the right thing to do. The only war Dubai is interested in fighting is that against poverty and illiteracy."

Education, said Sheikh Mohammad, served as a way out of poverty and radicalism. "Education and entrepreneurship are the twin underpinnings for building a safer world. With these two institutions, we'll have fewer angry young people, fewer frustrated youths ready to embrace radicalism because they have nowhere else to turn," he wrote.

The "Dubai narrative", said Sheikh Mohammad, was about improving people's lives through "smart capitalism, willpower and positive energy". The emirate's plans do not come from "mere ambition", he added, "they are a necessity". "It doesn't take the visit of a capitalism-boosting American president for this region to freshly understand that it needs to accelerate economic progress," he said.

The UAE's "strong support" for the GCC common market, noted Sheikh Mohammad, reflected its belief that building a strong regional economy is the best opportunity for lasting social stability in the Middle East.

Other initiatives that Dubai was planning included ensuring prompt payment of salaries and an improvement in working conditions for unskilled foreign workers, he said. "I like to think that in Dubai we are making the effort to cast the net wide when it comes to sharing prosperity".

Sheikh Mohammad also said Dubai had learned from some of the "mistakes" it made, singling out the controversy aroused by US lawmakers in 2006 when Dubai Ports World purchased port operations in six US ports. "We analysed our experiences, and we now approach our international investments in a much more holistic manner ... When disputes occur, we generally find a way to work through them," he said. – Gulf News

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