Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim and Dr Rafiaa Obaid Gobash at the launch of the book titled ‘Rashid: The Leader Who Envisioned the Future’ at Etihad Museum. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: The ability of the late Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum to transform Dubai into a modern city and envision the best for the future of the emirate was highlighted on Thursday by two prominent figures in the country.

During an event held at Etihad Museum to commemorate his 60th appointment anniversary, shining examples of the projects established by the founder of Dubai, that were a key to Dubai’s success as an emirate, and his ambitious character were main points of discussion.

Organised by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), it also witnessed the launch of the book ‘Rashid: The Leader Who Envisioned the Future’, which highlights the march of Shaikh Rashid and his many important achievements.

Sharing his personal experiences with Shaikh Rashid, Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai, said Shaikh Rashid was a “unique” leader who was innovative, and one who strategically planned the emirate for the future.

“Something I witnessed during his reign was his decision to build the Jabel Ali Port. He retained a personal interest in Jebel Ali Port and visited the site many times. At that point, many people did not view it as a strategic plan for the emirate, but it later turned out to become one of the world’s major and successful ports,” he said.

Lt Gen Tamim said this was the biggest example of how he was planning ahead and making early preparations for the post-oil era. “Today the revenues from the Jabel Ali Port way exceed that of the oil revenue.”

Other projects Shaikh Rashid accomplished, which many believed to be impossible, included Al Maktoum Bridge, which spanned the Creek, joining Dubai with Deira and eliminating the long trip around the head of the Creek; and Dubai airport, which bore immediate reward as demand for seats grew much faster than anticipated.

The panel discussion titled ‘March of a Leader’ was attended by various government officials.

Dr Rafiaa Obaid Gobash, Founder of The Women’s Museum in Dubai, shed light on how Shaikh Rashid was a leader who prioritised health and the education sector in the emirate and laid down foundations of tolerance and coexistence within the multiple communities living on his land.

“One example is Al Maktoum Hospital, which became the first modern hospital. The health care services in Dubai began to develop faster than any other emirate. People from all across the neighbouring countries come to get their treatment in Dubai.”

Dr Gobash said Shaikh Rashid also empowered women to get their education. “When the first two schools opened in Dubai, there were only a few female students enrolled until Shaikh Rashid decided to send his girls to one of the schools to show society that it was OK to do so.”

“By the end of the year, some 490 female students had joined. In a traditional society many needed the assurance that it was important for girls to be educated and he gave them that assurance.”

Dr Gobash pointed out that Shaikh Rashid won people’s love and faith as he strongly advocated justice. “He was also a man who set an excellent example for religious tolerance and respect for each other’s beliefs.”

The father of modern Dubai, who ruled the emirate from 1958 till his death on October 7, 1990, was renowned for his generosity, philanthropy and helping the needy. He also relied on his majlis which provided a vibrant stage for debate. Surrounded by men whose opinions he valued, projects were dissected, moulded and implemented by members of the majlis.

‘Rashid: The Leader Who Envisioned the Future’

The book highlights Shaikh Rashid’s great achievements and the role he and the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan played in the Union’s march to promote the UAE’s superiority both regionally and internationally, their effective political and economic roles as well as their contribution to the region’s stability and security.

It also focuses on the projects and initiatives that put Dubai on the global trade map by creating an advanced infrastructure and an appropriate environment for investment which helped attract businessmen, investors, and decision makers. The book also sheds light on his close relationship with citizens in various aspects of their social, health and educational lives.