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Dubai: You’re Welcome Here

Dubai: You’re Welcome Here

The emirate is creating an environment for mutual success, writes Tommy Weir, founder of the Emerging Markets Leadership Center.


It’s funny how perspectives change over time, definitely compared to how we thought in 2007 and think now. The other evening we were commenting how nice it is that the roads are packed and the sound of construction is keeping us awake at night, noting that in 2007, we fervently complained about both.

“Do you celebrate this progress or moan about it?”

While this may sound very nationalistic, these are signs showing the strategy is working. At times, I am tempted to complain, and then I remember what a “quiet” Dubai means.

Even after living in Dubai for so many years, I still get chills when I drive down Sheikh Zayed Road, the city’s main artery. Not because of the driving patterns, as more than two hundred nationalities get behind the steering wheel, but because nearly everyone who is living in Dubai is here because they can do better than they can in their home country and maybe even anywhere else.

I’ve become numb to the speed of development, even finding solace in it.

And I take for granted the spectacular skyline, half of which, or maybe more, was built in front of my eyes. I accept the excitement and energy as being normal. Yet, I get these chills because it is a place where any and every one can succeed.

Whether it’s a bus packed with construction workers who spent the day labouring away to add to the skyline, the taxi driver carrying tourists across the city, the CEO of a major business riding in his Range Rover, or anyone in between, all are living in Dubai because it is contributing to their success – and their success to Dubai.

In the same fashion that people travelled to California in 1849, where gold nuggets were literally sitting atop the ground to be picked up by hand, Dubai is experiencing its own rush. But there is one big difference between the California Gold Rush and Dubai.

Dubai’s rush was and is shaped from the leadership’s ideal of creating an environment for others to succeed. In California, few succeeded, they only had a precious commodity, not the environment. Gold worth tens of billions of today’s dollars was recovered, which led to great wealth for the few. However, many returned home with little more than what they started with.

Over the past four decades Dubai has experienced boomtown growth. The population grew five times between 1975 and 1995, then another four times between 1995 and 2015. The “rush”
is in full force from the continuation of the leadership practice – create an environment for others to succeed.

What amazes me is that even after the discovery of oil, the leaders stuck with the century old strategy as they continued creating this environment.

They worked even harder than before, reinvesting their newfound wealth in the original vision. After generations of fighting for survival, the temptation had to be huge to relax and enjoy prosperity. But they didn’t.

Helping others should be a natural extension of every leader’s responsibilities. While it is the “business” of leaders, at all levels, to help those in their care to develop beyond their dreams, it is not always easy.

Leaders often get too caught up in daily operations or their own problems to give people the help they need.

In Dubai, the leaders created an environment for others to do just that, succeed. Just ask anyone living in Dubai, “Are you better off for being here?” Without fail, the answer is “yes” from both locals and expats. Good jobs, standard of living and security. You can succeed here.

You need to always be thinking about how you can help your employees, team and even company succeed. If you want to learn from Dubai’s leadership practice, make your company a place where you help others succeed and you will also. This has became the core strategy of Dubai.

Does your leadership contribute to others’ success? Or do they (employees) only contribute to yours?


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