Opinion | Columnists

Connecting minds — creating the future

When we proposed to host Expo 2020, we promised to astonish the world. Today, we pledge to breathe life into our slogan: We will bring minds together for a better future

  • By Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
  • Published: 19:56 June 10, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Luis Vazquez, Dwyn Trazo/©Gulf News

More than 1,200 years ago, while Europe was in its Dark Ages, the Muslim world was ruled by a dynasty of Islamic leaders who embraced free thought and creativity from all corners of the globe.

Never before had history witnessed such cultural openness and symbiosis as during the reign of the Abbasid Caliphs. They built the world’s first university, named it Bayt Al Hikma (House of Wisdom) and filled its library with the finest cultural, scientific and literary creations known to mankind.

As early as the 9th Century, under the Caliph Al Mamoun, Baghdad had become the world’s capital of science and culture. The city was renowned for embracing all races and religions.

It became a magnet for intellectuals, free thinkers and innovators from East and West. Its people developed a passion for gathering together all of the fruits of mankind’s quest for happiness. This celebration of human creativity flourished for more than five centuries and set the stage for the European Renaissance.

Looking at the Middle East and its challenges today, it is tempting to think back to that golden age of Islamic culture with wistful nostalgia for a faraway time. But Al Mamoun’s vision is more than ancient history. It is also a solution for the present and the future — a model that we are actively rebuilding, right now.

My own country — the United Arab Emirates — stands where it stands today because since our inception, we have given the utmost priority to the human mind. Our land has always been a safe harbour for great thinkers. We have welcomed innovative minds and given them the freedom to create.

Advanced research facilities

By working together, thousands of experts and specialists from the UAE and around the world have built in Dubai the world’s tallest skyscraper, the largest man-made islands, the largest automated Metro network and the third largest airline in the world.

In our capital Abu Dhabi, they have built the world’s largest carbon-free city, complete with advanced research facilities for renewable energy. Great artistic and cultural minds are collaborating to build a vast cultural and artistic city complete with the greatest international museums.

We have been building on an idea that is more than 1,000 years old. Today, we want to extend this vision to an international level. We want to host Expo 2020 — a global event in which the cultures, innovations and creations of the world will meet in Dubai.

We want to welcome more than 25 million people during six months, so they can see the best of what the human mind can achieve across cultures and races. We want to host the greatest minds in the world to share innovative solutions for global challenges that cannot be dealt with in isolation.

Expo 2020 will bring together expert thinkers to share inventive ways to deal with pressing issues such as energy and water. Great minds will also come together to share smart solutions for transportation, sustainability and global economic stability.

When we proposed to host the world’s biggest cultural event, we promised to astonish the world. Today, we pledge to breathe life into our slogan: We will bring minds together for a better future. We proposed to host this international event in 2020 to deliver three important messages:

Our first message is to tell the world that the Middle East is not a region of conflict, war and tension. Its history and geography prove that this is a region where cultures, civilisations and innovation can meet and flourish. Initiatives such as Expo 2020 are an opportunity to restore this role by playing host to the world, communicating positively and openly with its diverse cultures, accepting and embracing ideas and interacting with all people.

We are at the heart of the world. Two thirds of the world’s population lives less than eight hours away. We are destined to be a meeting point for mankind and a melting pot for cultures and civilisations that will provide humanity with amazing innovations and creations.

Uniting minds and borders

Our second message is to the people of our region who are tired of conflict and tension. We tell them that we have a culture, a religion and a language in common: If communication among different cultures can bring about a better future, imagine what it could do for us with all our commonalities.

We have been trying for more than six decades to communicate and interact positively within our region. We endeavour to unite minds and then borders; to touch together our hearts before touching on economic interests and to unify our collective will before unifying our currencies.

We have always wanted to establish connections, real connections, to build a better future for the people of our region and its youth in particular. It is time for our region to restore its role in history and civilisation. Our history and our culture have destined us for greatness and our future should showcase this destiny.

Our last message is to the governments representing the 166 countries that will vote on November 2013 to choose the winning host country for Expo 2020. We tell them that our region deserves the chance to organise this great world exhibition, that our country is ready to host it and that we are committed to staging the best Expo in history.

We are thankful to the countries that announced their support to us; and to the people of the world our message is that of love and peace. Our slogan will always be that connecting minds creates a better future.

It is a slogan of which Caliph Al Mamoun would have been proud.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid 
Al Maktoum is Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Comments (12)

  1. Added 18:30 June 11, 2013

    Dubai is the very nice city in the world. Forigners here living withour tension. UAE leaders keen om other nationalities. May Allah bless to the all ruller so that they can do more nice activities for UAE. Thanks to all

    mohammad abdul jalil, abu dhabi, Bangladesh

  2. Added 16:19 June 11, 2013

    Dubai is the place where you feel relaxed, safe, firsthand experience of the best transportation & road system, quality service culture, the best practice system, accessible to the latest invention and technologies, cleanliness of the city, plenty of parks, mosques, churches, temples etc… The most important is the acceptance of all culture, religion, languages etc… by the Emirati communities make Dubai a better place to live.

    Soorya, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 15:56 June 11, 2013

    I love to hear EXPO 2020 to be held in Dubai which has great leaders and vision for the future. May God bless this great country and its leaders who are giving foreigners a decent lifestyle for many years and the years to come.

    Mohammad Zaheer, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 15:49 June 11, 2013

    I have only been in Dubai since last December but I have never lived in a country with such a positive, "can do" attitude. The visionary leadership is showing the world what can be achieved with passion, clear goals and a determination to succeed. I sincerely hope Dubai is the winning city in the bid for Expo 2020 and look forward to the cultural and financial prosperity this would bring to the country.

    Steve Byng, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 14:48 June 11, 2013

    UAE is the icon of harmonious development of socio-economic wealth, religion and international relation under the excellent directives of its able and honest leaders such as Honorable president, vice president and concerned dignitaries. The concrete reflection and transparent vision of which we see in the speech of Honorable vice president and prime minister His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's historic deliberation.

    Mohammad Nizam Uddin, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 13:24 June 11, 2013

    Long live the rulers of UAE and long live the extra ordinary vision for its future. I have lived and was brought up in this country (since 1975) and I wish to stay here forever to see all these visions becoming reality.

    Umair Seddiqi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 13:13 June 11, 2013

    If every nation has a leader like Shaikh Mohammad with such great vision; the whole world would have been in Peace and Love. UAE deserves to be the venue to host world cultural event Expo 2020 and I am sure all nations will support UAE and will won the bid in November 2013. Wish all the best to UAE!

    Jaykay, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 13:01 June 11, 2013

    It comes from head of Nation, that has already demonstrated the ability to do what was not done. The vision is already "in making" to keep the world excited. In my personal capacity, i would certainly like to be an active contributor.

    Haris Hasan Khan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 12:59 June 11, 2013

    I am so proud to have leaders I can look up to. I am so proud to have such figures to take as examples from in my every day life. Example of self-confidence, leadership, visionary, wisdom, cultural awareness, peace and acceptance. My dream would be to meet His Highness for an afternoon tea and hear from him wisdom and vision. Honestly one of the greatest men on Earth today!

    Soraya, UAE, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 11:46 June 11, 2013

    I am so proud that we have such leaders with this kind of vision and forward looking. I congratulate you and the people of the UAE for such great thinkers. Wish that we had more of you ruling the rest of the Arab world.

    Maher Ousta, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

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