When His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, speaks about his vision regarding a certain issue, that means big achievements and change are on the way.
In a recent message, Shaikh Mohammad talked about a new vision not limited to the UAE this time; instead, it extended to include the Gulf bloc and Arab countries in general, which means it notes the emergent developments in the region and in the sphere of its international relations.
He also spoke about the UAE economy in 2014, which was considered at its strongest with gross domestic product of Dh1.47 trillion and a structural change by which the non-oil sector accounted for 68.6 per cent of GDP.
He called for action to raise this percentage to 80 per cent by 2021 which is a significant anniversary for the country as it will celebrate its Golden Jubilee National Day. The country was established 50 years ago by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
In addition, Shaikh Mohammad called for serious steps to achieve a Gulf-wide economic integration to ensure stability and linkages to secure the future of the Arab region as a whole. This would accomplish an economic and developmental revitalisation led by Gulf states together with fraternal states and allies.
Shaikh Mohammad’s vision offers a broader outlook to the future, and through this change the status of Arab countries and put them on par with developed countries. The approach also calls for resolving many of the dilemmas they are exposed to. He also drew the general outline of this ambitious strategy.
Can this be achieved? The answer is yes ... if others absorb this vision and cooperate to achieve it.
Shaikh Mohammad has a record filled to the brim with achievements. In fact, he placed the development experience to be rated alongside the successful experiences of Singapore and Malaysia.
As why should the Gulf take the lead? The reasons are numerous. First, the UAE and the other Gulf states are the best in the region in terms of development and economic construction over the past four decades.
This is not because of oil alone, but thanks to the economic management and the right approach in dealing with initiatives. It is also a result of opening the way for the business sector and providing facilities for financial capital away from barriers and administrative complexities.
In addition, the Gulf has both the required track record and financial ability capable of leading the development process in other Arab countries. For without such experiences and the support from human expertise and economic capacities, the advances sought would not have been attainable.
Moreover, the call made by Shaikh Mohammad to the other Gulf countries to take practical steps towards achieving economic integration is considered the right beginning for eventual success.
Without a Gulf bloc that is unified and integrated economically, the locomotive of Arab economic progress will not be able to sail smoothly towards achieving its goals.
As for changing the economic structure of the state towards dominance by the non-oil sector five years from now, we have no doubt whatsoever that achieving it is possible ...
Here, in particular, Shaikh Mohammad is fully aware of his words, for Dubai that used to be dependent on oil for almost 20 years is different now. Thanks to Shaikh Mohammad’s vision and hard work, the oil sector does not account for more than 5 per cent of its gross domestic product, a feat unmatched anywhere among all oil-producing countries.
So the Gulf in particular and Arabs in general face a sincere call backed by a successful development experience of a state that has established itself firmly on the international economic and political stage within a short period of time.
This requires everyone to absorb the contents of this call and cooperate to accomplish it. And to break free from the degradation and the deadlock state witnessed in many Arab countries, where economic and livelihood issues are among of the main causes of this decline.
As for the vision regarding the UAE economy and structural change called for by Shaikh Mohammad, we can say with all confidence that it will be achieved. This is what we have learnt through our day-to-day lives over past decades by experiencing the economic development processes in the country.
Dr Mohammad Al Asoomi is a UAE economic expert and specialist in economic and social development in the UAE and the GCC countries.