The best lessons are the experiences gleaned in the journey of life. The life experiences of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, have been distilled into a book Qissati (My Story). He terms it an “incomplete biography,” but it offers a rich panoply of his insights into life, leadership and family values. Shaikh Mohammad’s experiences are rich and varied: from life in the desert to the age of air-conditioning; from seafaring days to the time of long-haul flights; from the pearl-diving past to the era of oil; from hamlets to a city filled with skyscrapers. The journey has helped Shaikh Mohammad gain valuable knowledge, and he shares them with readers of this book.
It is unusual for leaders to relate anecdotes from their personal lives. Most prefer to keep them a closely-guarded secret. Shaikh Mohammad refuses to cover the turning points in his life with the veil of secrecy. Instead, he offers them as a guide to people who can use them to chart their own success. Dubai’s transformation from a fishing village to an ultra-modern city is ample proof of the success of the methods employed by Shaikh Mohammad and his predecessors. In the book, Shaikh Mohammad says that Dubai is not a mere coincidence. It was a journey begun by Shaikh Maktoum Bin Butti and nurtured by Shaikh Hasher Bin Maktoum and Shaikh Rashid Bin Maktoum. As trade and commerce took roots, security, stability and economic development followed, Shaikh Mohammad explains referring to Dubai’s unceasing quest for diversification.
The successes and failures, crises and its solutions, personal loss and grief all teach ways to surmount future setbacks. Shaikh Mohammad touches an emotional chord when he talks about his mother Shaikha Latifa, and the pain and void at her loss. Recalling other disasters and tragedies like the huge fire in Deira and the outbreak of measles, Shaikh Mohammad says, every setback spurred Dubai to rebuild and regain strength. Like how the measles outbreak prompted his grandfather Shaikh Saeed Bin Maktoum to build a hospital, the Rashid Hospital which to this day provides care for the ill and the infirm. Shaikh Mohammad also discusses his outlook. “The worst things to affect a human being are vanity, megalomania, the belief in one’s own power and his dependence on his limited mortal strength,” Shaikh Mohammad says in the book. There are many more nuggets like these in his book. Nuggets that offer lessons that could be useful to one and all — people and leaders, citizens and expatriates.