Dubai: “Dubai does not accept failure. Hosting the Expo 2020 will not be great for the UAE alone, but for the entire Arab world,” said Juma Al Majid, one of the UAE’s foremost and most respected businessmen in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.
The Al Majid brand has been one of the pioneers in business and a leading contributor to the development of the country for the last eight decades.
To reiterate and reassert the full significance of his opinion, Al Majid said: “Dubai doesn’t accept failure and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has full confidence in his country and its people.”
To illustrate the confidence level, Al Majid said, “If Shaikh Mohammad had even the smallest iota of doubt in Dubai’s capabilities he would not have allowed a bid to be submitted for Expo 2020.”
Al Majid went on to say that, despite Dubai and the UAE boasting an unprecedented story of success and development, it was not the only reason, or advantage, that would help contribute towards a successful bid for Expo 2020. The city has a lot more to offer and in excess of the criteria that it had tabled in its bid.
“If the bid for Expo 2020 is fair, then Dubai will win,” said Al Majid adding, “Dubai has every advantage and it can easily meet the expectations of the inspecting officials, as well as fulfilling the basic criterion for the bid to be successful.
“Dubai is brimming with positive energy and our work force is well trained and qualified to host this international event. We have a strong belief in our country and our people and they hunger for success, progress and prosperity.”
Aware that a successful bid for Dubai would put the entire country into the limelight, Al Majid said, “Some of the top cities in the world compete to host this event. If Dubai’s bid is successful then the event will come to the Middle East for the first time as well. That is an achievement to be acknowledged,” he added.
A successful businessman and entrepreneur in his own right with a track record based on decades of consistent excellence through his various companies, Al Majid has a finger on the pulse of most economic developments in the country. He has built a business empire, owning more than 40 companies and employing more than 8,000 people.
On the secret of his success in the UAE, Al Majid outlined one basic characteristic in the UAE’s accomplishments, “In this country everyone has a very important gift: they are free to put their thoughts and their money into action.
“Dubai is for everyone and there is always room for everyone,” he added. “The country’s rulers think of the people. The people in turn are not self-centred. The rulers have granted everybody who live here the freedom to live, think and work in an appropriate manner,” he said. “Our rulers adopted this principle and continue to follow this same policy for the sake of their country and their people.”
The wise vision of the UAE’s rulers impacted on changing the simple lives of Emiratis for the better and pushed them towards working hard and maintaining a personal growth which was synonymous with the consistent rise of the country. “This growth continues to be recorded across all platforms and has never gone static,” he said. “They succeeded in altering the UAE into a better country in terms of living standards and doing business.”
Summing up the facilities that are available today with a sense of pride, Al Majid says, “The UAE has one of the best infrastructure: roads, hospitals, electricity, water and schools. In addition to this, it offers open and flexible business policies. This will hopefully, be an advantage when it comes to winning the bid for Expo 2020.”
Al Majid himself treasures and applies, with effective results, one of Shaikh Mohammad’s philosophies, “If you want to exist, you have to work, he [Shaikh Mohammad] had said. And the emirates are still working hard.”
Al Majid endorsed Dubai as being in one of the best countries worldwide, in terms of service and infrastructure.
“Dubai has a lot of advantages to win the bid for Expo 2020,” he said. “One of these is its airports. Dubai grew rapidly and developed world class institutions and organisations that we continue to rely on. Today, Dubai has one of the busiest airports in the world and it continues to grow in terms of connectivity.”
The millions of tourist who visited Dubai this year could help make its case as one of the world’s most visited destinations.
“Via Dubai’s airports, anyone can travel at any time and to any destination around the globe,” said Al Majid.
“In addition, the hospitality sector, which faces strong competition across the world, is another benefit for Dubai. Most of the world’s largest hotel chains have already established themselves in the UAE. What’s more, they have plans to expand in order to tap into the expected growth in the number of visitors that come here. Dubai and the UAE offer multiple choices for everyone.”
The developed domestic transportation system — the Dubai Metro, taxi and bus services — across the UAE will give visitors to the Expo 2020, the alternative to stay in neighbouring emirates as well.
“One more advantage,” according to Al Majid, “Is the emphasis on safety and stability that the emirates affords to all its residents and visitors. This will provide an added impetus in convincing the delegates to grant Dubai the Expo 2020.”
He added: “When Dubai hosted the World IMF meeting in 2003, the President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, asked Shaikh Mohammad why he could not see any presence of security around them. To this, Shaikh Mohammad replied that security was present, but no one could see them.”
“The point I am trying to make is that in a country where you have safety, stability and freedom existing in both subtle and overt tones, you have production, success and development. This is Dubai. Here, we don’t have issues, or any complexities, that thwart development,” Al Majid said.
Looking at matters from a business perspective Al Majid said, “The ease of doing business in Dubai is part of our culture. The authorities are trying to eliminate all kinds of bureaucratic hinderances. Therefore, opportunities exist everywhere in Dubai,” he added.
Talking on how the people would contribute towards hosting this event, Al Majid said: “Our people are well trained and responsible. The openness, coexistence and diversity that Dubai enjoys is proof of its capabilities.”
Despite the fact that Dubai has recorded many achievements and will continue to do even better, Al Majid believes that there are no limits to its potential in terms of continuous development.
“Expo 2020 is based on creativity and there is no doubt that this event will add value to the economy and the reputation of Dubai as well.
“The UAE has one of the most stable economies in the world. Despite the fact that the UAE is an open market and has exposure to markets worldwide, hosting the Expo 2020 will energise the UAE’s economy across all business sectors.
“Everyone will benefit from this event — from the small baker to the biggest businessman.”
In closing Al Majid said, “While I am expecting a remarkable boom in the country, with the hosting of Expo 2020, I believe that the growth will be healthy and reasonable, with gradual inflation through the seven years.”