HRH Sheikh Mohammed: Soul of the Union

At last week’s Government Summit, Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum gave the UAE public perhaps its greatest insight yet into a mind that has shaped both Dubai and the nation. The UAE Vice President and Prime Minister took time out to answer questions from citizens and journalists, and from the young and the old.
By Ed Attwood
Sun 17 Feb 2013 08:50 AM

On aspiring to be ‘number one’

“We have learnt persistence to reach number one from the late Sheikh Zayed and the late Sheikh Rashid, and today we are learning that from Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed; for example, Abu Dhabi is striving to achieve number one in the fields of culture and renewable energy. This is its right to do so and it is capable of achieving that.

“We, in the UAE, have no such word as “impossible”; it does not exist in our lexicon. Such a word is used by the lazy and the weak, who fear challenges and progress. When one doubts his potential and capabilities as well as his confidence, he will lose the compass that leads him to success and excellence, thus failing to achieve his goal. I require you, youth, to insist on number one.”

On coping with challenges

“Life is all about challenges. Imagine a life without challenges. We should try to surmount the challenges rather than backing off from them. As long as we have the resolve to face it, we can surmount them provided we keep a positive frame of mind.

“Do we have to stand still to avoid the risk of falling, or stop flying for fear of an air crash? Ever since I took a leadership role, I have encountered several challenges. But I never gave up and I never bowed to them.”

On exceeding expectations

“Every year I am accustomed to invite media people to break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan; we meet at the breakfast meal and discuss a number of issues.  I answered a question about how much we have achieved and said then “10 percent only”. After two years, I invited them again during Ramadan and the same journalist asked me the same question; I answered “7 percent only,” because no matter how giant are our achievements for our people, we still aspire achieve more. If we have achieved everything, should we stay hand folded, just to eat and drink?

On the role of government

“I want a government that toils 24 hours a day, just like airlines. I want it to be close to people, welcoming all clients akin to that welcome received by hotels’ guests. I want the citizens to be able to process all their government transactions in one place , on a mobile one-stop shop.

“We want further cooperation and integration to leverage our state and our institutions to the international standards which we aspire to prevail in all fields and sectors, especially the government sectors so that we can provide best services to customers.

“We are an authority for people, not over people. A director in any department has been appointed to assist customers and to facilitate their transactions without delay under any circumstances. We are taking the course of our founding fathers and the path of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan who places the citizen at the top of his priorities.”

On working in the public sector

“Government employees are the engines of our achievements. They are the energy that fuels our development. I encourage them to keep on working with excellence and innovation. I am calling on all our employees to focus on acquiring knowledge and the right training needed to serve our country. Our employees need a competitive work environment where they should be supported, recognised and handed authority that allows them to perform better”

On building the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower

“The project’s designs didn’t exceed 80 floors, but I thought thoroughly and pondered deeply to make Burj Khalifa the most wonderful structure and tallest building in the region so that it would be a tourist destination par excellence; this is what happened. Now, the downtown attracts thousands of tourists from all parts of the globe.”

On dealing with risk

“Without challenges, success and excellence won’t exist, especially when such a success is meant for the homeland and its fruit is harvested by the citizens. Without challenges, we won’t feel the taste of success and happiness we wish for our people in this dear land.”

“We have to carry on… Life is full of challenges. Risk will not disrupt our plans. If we do not accept risk, we will not accomplish. We must embrace positivity, determination and the will to achieve.”

On the Arab Spring

“Change or you will be changed. They have to undertake radical reformation otherwise their people will be disenchanted. Arabs are a smart people who are looking for a decent life. I wish peace, happiness and development to all Arab countries.”

On positive energy

“It means to be optimistic about a new day, every morning when you wake up; he who gets smiling, he will remain as such the whole day. Positive energy in a human makes him strong and willing to face challenges with high morale and resolve, while negative energy frustrates a human and impounds his strength, resolve and optimism. Innovation and creativity have no finishing line. We cannot just stop and sit idle without achievements for the next generations.”

On leadership

“Leadership is astuteness and smartness and not every leader is successful or possesses the qualities and traits  of a leadership of genius; the leader is the one who brings happiness to his people, strives to serve the interests of his nation, preserves national pride and brings glory to his country and achieve its high goals."

On encouraging the private sector to hire more Emiratis

“I call on my colleagues in the private sector that have benefited greatly from this country to extend a helping hand in the process of Emiratisation, even in a tiny percentage, to make a contribution to the growth of this country”

On sport

"Every day, I walk three kilometres, sometimes, 10 kilometres and some other times 20 kilometres. Sport is an integral part in my daily life. I exercise all types of sports, including horse riding and other sports that develop both body and mind."

On watching the UAE scoring the winning goal in the recent Gulf Cup

“I was watching the thriller with my colleagues and I could not hold my excitement when our team scored the last goal. I kicked my leg hitting a table and got hurt.”

On the UAE’s ‘formula for success’

"The secret lies in the love for the country and its soil and in the fact that we all work as a one team. My brother His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, my brothers Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates and I,  and before us, the founding fathers, have a collective stake in the achievements for our country and for our people. The founding fathers laid the foundation and we followed their footsteps. Each citizen also took part in building the country and its institutions and participated in the progress of the UAE.

 “It is not the work of only one person. The efforts of thousands of people who work behind the scenes is what got us here, we alone cannot do anything.”

On leading a simple life

“I live a simple life, my life away from leadership is very simple. I wake up early, clean up and pray. I have breakfast with my family. Sometimes I visit my friends, have a cup of coffee, or visit shopping malls and have lunch at a restaurant one of them recommends and see people. This simple life makes me happy.”

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Last Updated: Thu 26 Jan 2017 01:27 PM GST

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