Winners credit their success to the environment and opportunities that the UAE's leaders have provided
Munib al-Masri, PADICO and Edgo Group chairman, in his acceptance speech at the Arabian Business Achievement Awards 2017, paid tribute to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and other UAE leaders, for their forward-thinking visions, and the legacy of philanthropy they have left behind in the country and throughout the region.
Al-Masri, who first came to the then-Trucial States in the mid-1960s, fondly remembered his meetings with four of the UAE’s “giants,” including the late Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi of Ras Al Khaimah, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al Maktoum of Dubai, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, as well as Sheikh Zayed, whom he called “an extraordinary leader.”
“He [Sheikh Zayed] used to visit us in the sand dunes between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. He used to sit with us, talk with us, and I used to listen to his wisdom….I’ll never forget,” he said. “I’m very proud to have known him.”
In addition, al-Masri lauded the achievements of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“[Sheikh Rashid] was a fantastic guy, his wisdom and his humbleness,” he noted. “Dubai was a very small town. Now when I see Dubai you can see the vision of Sheikh Rashid and his sons, and Sheikh Mohammed. It’s a fantastic place to be in. It’s something all Arabs should be proud of, what the emirates have done to this country.”
Al-Masri was just one of several Arabian Business Achievement Award winners to pay tribute to the UAE, which many said was instrumental to their successes in life.
Sunny Varkey, the founder and chairman of GEMS Education, for example, took the opportunity to thank the leadership of the UAE for giving the country's “game changers” – Emiratis and expats alike - a platform to grow alongside their vision for the country.
Similarly, Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Colm McLoughlin credited his success to the “can-do” attitude of Dubai, which he said encourages progress and growth.
“It was easy for me to learn from other people, and whenever I’m in a situation like this, I don’t really feel that this [award] is mine. I feel it belongs to the Government of Dubai,” he said.
“It belongs to my chairman, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed [bin Saeed Al Maktoum], who has been so supportive and has given such freedom to Dubai Duty Free to work.”
Accepting the Achievement Award on behalf of Emaar chairman and founder Mohammed Alabbar, his son Rashid said that perhaps the greatest influence on his father’s long and storied business career was that of Dubai’s leadership.
“I think one important thing to say is that he would be proud that he has graduated from the top school in the world, and that is the school of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid,” he said. “All the gratitude to the leadership for putting trust in my father. I am sure he would say the same thing.”
Other Arabian Business Achievement Award winners included LuLu Group managing director Yusuff Ali, Alshaya Group executive chairman Mohamed Alshaya, and Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi.