Less than two weeks ago, I was among the guests invited to the weekly lunch reception that was organised by the Protocols Department at Zabeel Palace, where we were honoured to meet His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
These meetings have become a tradition, having been hosted by Shaikh Mohammad for the past 14 years. I have previously written about them in an article titled Shaikh Mohammad: Open Dialogue.
Usually, Shaikh Mohammad receives many people, either individuals or groups as per his schedule. However, the meetings are special gatherings that are held on a semi-regular basis. Shaikh Mohammad personally invites people with the purpose of exchanging views with the guests on various topics and concerns.
The best way to describe these meetings is that they are a kindly gesture and have a family-like air about them, and their continuity is far more significant than their absence . The meeting less than two weeks ago touched upon the book titled Introduction (Muqaddamah) by Ibn Khaldoun, a prominent Arab sociologist whose work continues to impress many analysts. The talks focused on Ibn Khaldoun’s creative and humanitarian ideas.
During the conversations, Shaikh Mohammad came across as the most knowledgeable among us on Ibn Khaldoun’s work, signifying that he was an avid reader of books pertaining to human sciences, literature, poetry, and history as reading is the ideal way of expanding minds and cultural knowledge.
The best blessing that can be given to any society and which can ease its growth towards sustainable development is for it to be run by a well-informed leader. A leader who is knowledgeable helps pave the way for highly capable management, which in turn results in an excellent product.
This is a review of the book Wamadhat Min Fikr (Flashes of Inspiration), written by Shaikh Mohammad and its illustrative ideas that reflect the deep-rooted culture reflected in the experiences of Shaikh Mohammad as the Ruler and leader. These experiences were inspired from the two late leaders, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who were, as everyone knows, exemplary men and exceptional leaders.
In fact, the book contains the essence of Shaikh Mohammad’s experience of inspiring Emiratis to greater heights of achievement.
Even though Shaikh Mohammad has previously published five books on poetry, literature and social topics, I consider My Vision, which was published in 2006, as the first piece of work in which Shaikh Mohammad appeared not just as a leader, but also as an economic, social and political researcher, and a brilliant architect of development plans, which are in full swing in Dubai. The book provides content and concepts that are different from works written by other Arab leaders in the Arabian Peninsula .
Two years after the book was published, the economic crisis hit the world, affecting all commercial and business activities. The crisis affected the UAE too, and Dubai suffered the most being the top destination for such activities in the GCC and undertaking distinguished development plans.
Dubai came under fire by malicious, arrogant critics who doubted its success. Their words began to create a sense of unease among many people who became scared and uncertain. However, there was one person who was unfazed by it all, who understood that the extent of the problem was not as bad as it seemed because the nation had, on many occasions, come face to face with much more severe crises.
In complete openness, he was optimistic about the economic crisis, seeing it merely as a passing dark cloud, and believed that good times were undoubtedly coming. He believed in all that was built and that it would withstand the most powerful shockwaves. That man was Shaikh Mohammad.
He never hesitated to say that the UAE would successfully overcome the crisis. Such optimism reassured all Emiratis and eliminated all causes of panic. A hallmark of any leader who would motivate his people.
Shaikh Mohammad’s vision was realised through bravery in facing challenges and the exceptional ability to persevere. Every line written in My Vision received an overwhelming response from people, especially during the economic crisis. The book provides concrete evidence that Shaikh Mohammad’s vision is becoming a reality. It deserves to be included in school curriculums to teach our children to truly understand life, how to plan for the future and face up to challenges.
The UAE is now witnessing a new chapter of successful experiences spearheaded by Shaikh Mohammad, which he portrayed in words of enlightenment in his latest book, Wamadhat.
It has been described by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan as a diverse book that contains life experiences and leadership ideas, as well as beautiful humanitarian opinions from a successful Arab leader with rich and vast experience.
In fact, Shaikh Mohammad managed throughout his 25 years of work to experience life in its fullness, and went through many practical experiences in life that enabled him to properly evaluate and come up with solid results, creative ideas and plans. By implementing these plans and ideas, Shaikh Mohammad managed to transform Dubai into an iconic city admired by all, and was able to reap the fruit of his diligent work.
Wamadhat is not a stand-alone book but an extension of his previous book, My Vision, as it presents new ideas of modernity and innovation. It also contains the outcomes of experiences gained by Shaikh Mohammad in the past seven years since he wrote My Vision.
Shaikh Mohammad is carrying out his leadership duties and responsibilities very well by summarising in the book his experiences and lessons that he learnt as Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
In the prologue, Shaikh Mohammad writes: “I am not a scholar, nor do I claim wisdom. The book is simply a summary of advices and experience that I have carefully jotted down and presented in a simple manner with the purpose of serving our nation and citizens.”
What makes this book unique is its creative and eye-catching layout represented in summarising Shaikh Mohammad’s thoughts and ideas in 30 sections. These are portrayed in a very sophisticated and elegant design that captures the attention of readers who ponder over these words of wisdom.
The book reflects Shaikh Mohammad’s exceptional personality, as well as spontaneous way in conversing with others who take part in his meetings. It also mirrors the cultural depth of his personality.
Through this book, Shaikh Mohammad draws up a roadmap for himself and his professional team, which also represents the country’s policy and its plans for a positive role in the international community.
The book is written in a very simple and smooth style that draws readers to comprehend the meanings and messages behind each idea. No doubt, Wamadhat is a comprehensive book. In penning the book, the author aimed to convey his thoughts to all the people in the UAE and other countries. He also wanted to affirm to all these people that the UAE, its leaders and people are part of the human family, sharing its happy and sad moments.
However, the direct language used in the book is aimed at Shaikh Mohammad’s team and the group that is tasked with implementing his ideas and visions in the service of the nation and all the people living in the UAE.
We are all aware, as related to us by Shaikh Mohammad throughout the book and in his words and deeds, and in the context of the wise leadership of Shaikh Khalifa that the UAE works on creating a sophisticated civil society.
A society where there is no place for factionalists, fanatics, political and religious radicalism and other obstacles that jeopardise the development march. Moreover, the UAE rejects violence and transgression and seeks to establish a virtuous community that is safe from political and social evils.
Throughout his two books, Wamadhat and My Vision, Shaikh Mohammad continues his moral and spiritual communication with people, as well as his actual communication with them.
A successful leader and leadership usually maintain a dialogue with the people. It is one which extends at all times.
In my opinion, Shaikh Mohammad’s speeches, words and books are worthy of contemplation. His works are well suited to be taught as part of sociology in our schools and scientific institutions; for these two books in particular promote ambition and a practical look towards a better future in the hearts of the youth.
Abdul Ghaffar Hussain is a UAE researcher and writer.
1) Al Khaleej newspaper, issue No. 7522, December 23, 1999. Also the book National Concerns.
2) Article titled ‘Reading in my vision’ in Al Khaleej newspaper, issue No. 9871, May 9, 2006 by Abdul Ghaffar Hussain.