Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, envisions a virtual government where UAE citizens will be able to complete transactions using mobile phones.
Shaikh Mohammad was speaking at a dialogue session during the first day of the Government Summit in Dubai. More than 2,500 people are taking part in the summit. Around 150 experts have come from 30 countries.
Empowerment, education and Emiratisation are the UAE leadership’s priority, he said. He stressed the important role women play in the workforce.
He said women occupy 30 per cent of leadership positions. Men should be aware of the dominance of women in executive positions, he said.
On the secret behind the UAE’s success story, he said: “Love and passion for the UAE is the secret. Achieving our target towards development is hope, duty and creed. There is no limit for development, innovation and excellence.”
Shaikh Mohammad said Arabs are smart people who are looking for a decent life. He wished peace, happiness and development to all Arab countries.
Shaikh Mohammad answered questions from the people and media.
Why number one
Shaikh Mohammad clarified why he always looks to be number one only. “All our achievements have been possible because we are looking to be number one. There is no alternative to number one. I, UAE leaders and citizens should continue to seek to be number one because nothing remains after number one.”
“What we have done in the UAE is no more than 10 per cent of the vision I have. People in the field who work hard, acquire knowledge and learn from mistakes will have a broader vision, one that is not limited. So whatever has been done would be considered little and there will always be a long way to go,” Shaikh Mohammad said. “My ambition and my people’s ambition is big. Achievement is hope, duty and creed. There is no limit to development, innovation and excellence. You can’t reach your target without working hard.”
“I want my country to offer warm hospitality like five star hotels and operate round the clock like airlines. I want my government to be a one-stop-shop where everything can be done easily.”
The UAE government could beat international records with the current governmental services. “We have to keep working on developing all our services. We should always seek to be the best. Empowerment, education and Emiratisation are the UAE leadership’s priority.”
“Life is full of challenges, in every step and in every project. We should transcend all these challenges otherwise nothing can be done. The word ‘impossible’ does not exist in the UAE’s dictionary. Don’t think about these challenges, be positive and if you want to achieve your target you will with goodwill and persistence.”
According to Shaikh Mohammad, leadership is about the mind and being sharp and astute. Genetic characteristics should be polished with education, training and experience. “Not everyone can be a leader,” he said.
“With positive energy we can beat all challenges and achieve a happy life. Be optimistic and charge yourself with positive energy; you will solve all problems. Being passive will not only bring you down but lead you to failure. Being positive means you are successful, being negative means you will end up losing,” Shaikh Mohammad said.
While the west use the V sign to express victory, Shaikh Mohammad created a new sign which means victory, winning and I love you. Being Arabs with a great history, he said: “We should not copy others, but we should have our own creations and innovations.”
“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.”
Pointing to the importance of time management, he said time is like life, it can’t be saved. “So, if you don’t invest your time properly and quickly you will not reach the desired target,” he said.
‘Change or you will be changed’ — this was Shaikh Mohammad’s message to all politicians. “They have to undertake radical reformation otherwise their people will be disenchanted,” he said. “Arabs are smart people who are looking for a decent life. I wish peace, happiness and development to all Arab countries.” He added that in 2012, for example, foreign direct investment in the UAE totalled Dh30 billion.
Women have achieved a lot in the UAE and have a strong presence in every sphere. He said around 70 per cent of university graduates are women, almost 65 per cent of government employees are women and approximately 30 per cent are in leadership positions. “Women work harder and focus on education and so have a bright future.” He said in his office, 85 per cent of workers are female. “I am worried about you men because women will be taking leaderships positions from you.”
A child asked when he would receive his iPad. Shaikh Mohammad said the child meant an iPad as part of the smart education initiative. He asked the Minister of Education, Humaid Al Qutami, to answer.
Al Qutami said after the initiative was launched in April 2012, they started working on the project and devising plans to implement it. “In September 2012, we started with 16 schools. We targeted the seventh grade and four subjects – Arabic, English, Maths and Science. Teachers were trained in the new system and provided the technology and devices required.”
There is a plan set for next year, Al Qutami said, where they will include another 100 schools. The smart learning initiative will be implemented in all schools across the UAE in the next four years.
Shaikh Mohammad said his role model is Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). He said leaders from whom he learned a lot are Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the founding fathers of the UAE.
He said Shaikh Zayed used to insist on taking him on trips abroad. He said he taught him not only through words but through example and interactions with the people around him as well as questioning him. “I learned a lot in school and university, but I learned most from Shaikh Zayed.”
Soul of the Union
Shaikh Mohammad was asked what the phrase “Soul of the Union” means to him. He said it is “the interdependence of the parts of the union, the teams that work in the spirit of the union and the flag of the union.” He said President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is also the soul of the union, and so is the entire society of the UAE.
Success of the UAE
As to why the UAE is successful, Shaikh Mohammad said the key to that is that all the people in the UAE love the UAE immensely and work as one team with this love and unity to take the UAE forward.
“We did not do this alone, the founding fathers are the ones who started this development and we are just continuing their mission.” And so, he said, every single person in this country has contributed to the success story of the UAE, “It is not the work of only one person.”
He said team work is also key. “The efforts of thousands of people who work behind the scenes is what got us here, we alone cannot do anything.”
A day in his 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.” He said he then enjoys one of his hobbies, such as horse riding — especially in the desert — cycling and watching deer and rabbit.
“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.” They then take a walk along the beach or go for a small fishing trip. “This simple life makes me happy.”