Opinion: what is the meaning of success?

The Arabian Business Achievement Awards showed us that success comes in many forms
Opinion: what is the meaning of success?
Guiding light The story of the eight Iraqi widows, seen here with ITP Media Group CEO Ali Akawi, is a lesson in rising above adversity
By Jeremy Lawrence
Fri 16 Nov 2018 01:27 AM

To host the ruler of Ras Al khaimah, His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, at our Achievement Awards last week was a career highlight. It was also a privilege to hear his impassioned speech that ranged in topics from the values driving his leadership, to his admiration for the economic advice that the UK’s former prime minister Margaret Thatcher once gave him during a state visit.

The transformation of Ras Al Khaimah under Sheikh Saud’s leadership has been astonishing. In just five years it has doubled its tourist numbers from 500,000 in 2013 to a projected one million visitors this year.

By 2025 that figure is expected to grow to three million, contributing ten percent of GDP, which is double the present number.

Industry is also growing. “You’ll find Ras Al Khaimah has had a diverse economy for a long time – because we didn’t have oil to begin with!” His Highness quipped, before turning to a more serious point about the values that drive him.

“As Sheikh Zayed once said, ‘Wealth is not money. Wealth lies in men. This is where true power lies, the power we value. This is what has convinced us to direct all our resources to build the individual, and to use the wealth which God has provided us in the service of the nation.’ And that is what I strive each day to do.”

A roster of talent

On any other evening it would have been hard to top our other winners, who are all highly successful in their various fields. But what really impressed was their dedication to help others follow their lead.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair wants to change the entire nature of philanthropy in the region. Jassim Alseddiqi isn’t content with running investment giant ADFG, and is helping foster the next generation of start-ups.

Business leaders here have taken to heart the message from this nation’s rulers: that with success comes the great responsibility to serve

Shaji Ul Mulk chairs the Mulk Foundation, which is active in the UAE and India.

NMC Healthcare and UAE Exchange, under Prasanth and Promoth Manghat respectively, have highly active CSR programmes that seek to support the communities in which their services operate.

Meanwhile, Fadi Ghandour has sold two companies – Aramex and Maktoob – for millions and could be enjoying a gilded retirement, but instead chooses to help the next generation of start-ups via Wamda Capital.

And last but not the least, Habib Al Mulla has helped draft many of the UAE’s progressive legal measures.

This is an impressive roll-call that shows how business leaders here have taken to heart the message from the rulers of this nation: that with success comes the great responsibility to serve others.

Value of persistence

Some months ago we’d come to learn about Prosperity Catalyst, a US-based non-profit that launched a candle-making enterprise to empower vulnerable Iraqi women. This group was selected to receive a training on candle making in order to train larger group of women.

Despite all cultural barriers, family commitments, and intensity of the training they finished the training and have already passed their knowledge on to another 125 women in Baghdad. In addition, they also supported the production of 15,000 candle sets made in Iraq and sold in the US.

We arranged for eight of the women to fly over to Dubai. Bear in mind that none of them had travelled abroad before, and have lived lives of almost unimaginable suffering borne of war and poverty. To see them proudly collect their awards, knowing that not only have their own lives improved immeasurably, but they are now helping others to do the same, was a truly special moment.

Afterwards, one of the ladies presented a candle to me as a token of her thanks. When I light it I’ll reflect on the true meaning of success. Namely, that we should never give up in our struggles, however big or small they might be, and if we do succeed, we must help others along that same journey to success.

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