The Power of “Yes!”
By Howard Leedham, M.B.E.
(Note: Howard Leedham, M.B.E., is Chief Executive of Burj Holding in Dubai.)
During the 1980’s a British Bank used to run a television commercial using the catch phrase that it was the “The Bank that likes to say Yes”! Of course while many who watched British TV through those times can doubtless remember the phrase, probably only a few can remember the bank, which was TSB (later merged with Lloyds).
What is interesting about the slogan is, that in the period when in was aired the banks in the UK were limited to six crusty main street institutions that were forced to a “Yes” sea-change in lending attitude, by the likes of TSB and Royal Bank of Scotland. During the next 25 years the banks moved from the sublime to the ridiculous. In the eighties they tended to lend money only to those who essentially didn’t need it. By 2008 banks were lending money on a global scale to individuals who neither qualified nor could repay it!
The lending spree and the magnitude of banks saying “Yes” led to a preponderance of high-risk mortgages, packaged into Special Investment Vehicles and then debt was transferred by the likes of Credit Default Swaps in the quoted to be in the magnitude of “Quad-Trillions” of Dollars with essentially no true underlying value. But despite the current global crisis, which the World shall surely suffer before it survives; its adaptation and change to a more US style of banking presented the average person with opportunity. The word “Yes”, or even expectation of it, in business is the vital ingredient to capitalism and, whether it be in Science, Finance or any other sector it important to note that the only way to make progress is to make change.
It’s difficult to know for sure whether the Ruler of the UAE in the 1980’s was aware of the monumental changes in the banking industry, but one thing is for sure and that is that he positioned the country for change without revolution or conflict in a way in which history has no compare. Abu Dhabi tapped its natural resources but was wise and frugal, Dubai looked for another natural resource and, whilst underpinned by the senior Emirate. It found it in the human spirit and refined that resource to set an example to the world and forever change the image of the region.
What is perhaps most remarkable is that use of such human spirit through history has invariably achieved great things, especially when it is used for shear creation. But it is often that which is most obvious that eludes us. One only has to consider that a man stood on the moon before someone figured out that instead of carrying a suitcase we could put wheels on the short side and pull it by a handle! It should not therefore be surprising that the obvious option of embracing the human spirit in order to turn sand into money came down to one Ruler recognizing where to put the wheels on such spirit; proving once again that it is only he who can see the invisible who can achieve the impossible.
Now fast forward twenty or so years and take a seven hour flight on an Airbus A-380 double-decker aircraft from where that bank first nodded its head to the UAE and wonder, not at the “vision” that is so often quoted, but look and behold the modern power of “Yes!”
For the UAE is perhaps built on many verbs; vision, determination, tenacity and imagination, but it is its ability to say “Yes” to recognizing the cultural differences of those that it needs in order to have done what it has achieved in just 15 short years.
The attitude of tolerance and the unbiased acceptance of color and creed permitted the UAE to achieve what it has when so many around it would say “No” to the same. The developmental acceleration of the UAE created a perfect storm that combines and synergized the willingness of the banks to provide leverage and simply making the UAE attractive to motivated and ambitious human beings. The result is the development of a country in unprecedented speed, and the power of “Yes” certainly provided it with more developmental power that of oil itself! The resulting, massive influx of expatriate expertise has lined and refined almost every aspect of the business spectrum to which the UAE puts its hand.
That the UAE has been able to achieve such milestones is a reflection its leadership and their conscious awareness is that the greatest leaders in history have been generalists as opposed to specialists. But what is unique to the Emirates is its top-to-bottom proliferation of such attitude that has permeated the citizenship of the Emirates to use expatriate expertise to provide the quid-pro-quo of presenting opportunity to all who reside, and transfer of practical business and skills to all who hold Emirati Passports. It has achieved this by prolific use of this one simple word what has eluded so many nations who instead of embracing international skill, have rejected it. The UAE has created a multi-cultural, multi-national society that lives in complete harmony, a first in the history of mankind. But the real genius of saying “Yes” is that by doing so the UAE has demonstrated that there is one commodity that is far more valuable to all of us than any other; and that is “Time”.
What is again remarkable is that the true value of time, is something that is dear to all our hearts. In Cairo I was told that, “Man fears time, but time fears the Pyramids” and surely the lesson to be learned here is that mans fear can compel him to do great things if it is only harnessed and incentivized. Time on the other hand is happy to let you do nothing perhaps because it is too busy waiting for the pyramids to blink.
If a visitor ever wants to see the spirit that built Dubai and that now builds Abu Dhabi then visit a local bar. For the UAE is probably the only place in the world where you can walk into such a place, view the expatriates and say, “100% of the people in this place came here (the UAE) to improve their lives!” All left their home and their country, many left their families, but every single one of them stepped on a plane with a one-way ticket promising themselves that they were going to better their lives and giving themselves a timeline to do it. By doing so these people also say “Yes” to opportunity and actively seek it in a consolidated manner to create a drive and energy that is simply unrivalled in any other place I have ever known. There is no time for a clash of cultures or prejudice along any lines, there is no time for crime, there is no time to dwell on minutia, no time to impose political or religious beliefs on someone who doesn’t share your view, just an acceptance that with 200 nationalities in one city, all with a common aim, to improve their lives and do it as quickly as possible. It is a win-win for the UAE and the individuals who choose to live and work here.
The UAE is undoubtedly a remarkable testament to what man can achieve if he puts his mind to it and decides to make it happen! History tells us we should not be so surprised. The seven wonders of the ancient world were built by harnessing imagination, the will to achieve, determination and tenacity. Of these seven wonders, three were achieved in countries that are members of today’s Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)! Perhaps it is also interesting to note that earthquakes destroyed two out of those three wonders. Of the remaining wonders two out of three were destroyed by man, it is interesting to note it was either one or the other, perhaps there is a lesson here, but we will discuss an aspect of destruction later in this article.
If “Yes” is the key to setting the UAE apart, it also a currency. To that end its value will fluctuate like any other currency and, like currency, it is perhaps valued on the credibility of the issuer and amount of its kind in circulation.
Because it’s not all a bed of roses and one also has to assess the value of “Yes” in the UAE. In fact it is the value of “Yes” that must be gauged and assessed before entering in any culture or metropolis. For example, I have often said that I like doing business in New York because of the obvious “yes/no” valuation in that city. I had my baptism of fire there in the financial sector and discovered a new meaning of bluntness and lack of courtesy in the New York business culture. I resentfully grew to have a healthy respect for the often rude, no-nonsense, “this is business-not personal” approach. A “Yes” is worth 8/8ths in New York! But the real beauty of that crudely blunt city is the value of a “No!” In New York a “No” has the value of 5/8ths of a “Yes”, and you can always seek a path to ascertain whether you can change the ingredients of a deal to change the 5/8ths into 8/8th. On the other hand, in the UAE we are blessed (and sometimes cursed) by the regional custom to be courteous and well mannered in business, especially to visitors.
Therefore, to say an outright “No” to a proposal is generally seen as over aggressive and rude which can result in the word “Yes” to mean 5/8ths of a “No”; and herein lies a business problem. If you receive a positive response in a business meeting, you can’t very well say, “How can I improve the ‘Yes’ to an 8/8ths!” The only gauge you can use is through gathering regional experience; who gave you the Yes? Where was it given? (Please don’t say a hotel lobby) and most importantly how is the follow-up? When emails dry up or cell phones are sluggish you just got 5/8ths of a “No”. But even this negative has turned out to be a positive for the UAE, because the Yes’s, no matter what their strength provide hope and optimism and, even if at times false, they contribute to the influx and to make the overall development happen. The fact is that exposure to opportunity is so great in the UAE that one almost becomes nonchalant towards it. It is a fact that small businessmen and entrepreneurs like myself get sight of deals the likes of which we would never see were we living with the giants on Wall Street or in Canary Wharf, and although it is at times challenging to fly by the seat of ones pants in converting opportunity to fruition, perseverance is invariably rewarded.
So it is important to remember that while a newcomer to the UAE might be wooed by the positive feedback he receives at every meeting, achieving deal flow and execution remains an equal challenge but with subtle differences to those in the west. Real progress for the individual expat in Dubai and Abu Dhabi relies on personal relationships and timing. It is simply not enough to buy into the “build it and they will come”. Experience in the region will provide the cultural value of the location of a meeting and the requirement to produce truly energized and productive opportunities.
Just as our respective cultures are respected by the Emiratis it is important for the expatriates to also understand and respect the lineage and traditions of the UAE’s citizens. It is always heartening to drive through the desert at night and see the 4x4 vehicles parked at the side of the road and the young Emiratis sitting around a fire until late at night exchanging experiences and stories. Such behavior and respect for timely exchanges has been handed down from generation to generation and permitted the continuation of a high content–low context culture that permeates the people of the deserts around the world. In this sense we then move to another stark business contrast with the US and more latterly Europe where time is always money and niceties are forgone to high context-low content. If one were to have to provide an example I am reminded of the story of a man who walks into a room to find a dead man lying dead in a pool of blood. There are two men, one of whom is American, standing by the body and the man who has entered the room asks, “What Happened?” The American points his finger at the other man and says, in just three words, “He shot him!” (High context-low content).
Rewind that scene and replace the American with a Bedouin. The same man enters the room, sees the dead man and asks the same question. The Bedouin replies, “Well, three weeks ago my sister went to fetch water..” and then proceeds to provide over an hours commentary on precisely what happened in the ensuing weeks that lead the mans death. After two hours of linking every part of the story together, he then says, “and so he shot him!”
In the culture of Wall Street, it has not important how you get there, but just get there! In the culture of the desert it is important to relate the process as much as end result. It is the journey not the destination that comes first. It is my hope that the UAE never loses this attribute because it absolutely refrains the vulgarity of get-in and get-out business practices that make life less pleasant. It is also interesting to consider that if the analogy of the journey is further endorsed when one considers that aspiration to excellence is just such a parallel journey and certainly not a destination.
So if good things happen quickly then great things happen overnight and in not much more than 5,500 nights the UAE has created fabulous cities at an unrivalled pace, and it chose the precisely the right period from an economic perspective to achieve such. Its currency has been pegged to the dollar, so it effectively adopted US monetary policy at a time of high expenditure reasonable currency strength. It has seen the gradual and then accelerated value of oil with which to under pin its seven Emirates. It has remained a haven of stability despite three major Gulf Wars (I include Iran –Iraq), and it has been integral in educating the western world on the values of it regional culture as opposed to more radical mind-sets. The UAE has done this by utilizing and optimizing its political and decision-making process to achieve what no other country has achieved in such a short period of time. It certainly tests the saying by Winston Churchill when he claimed, “Democracy is the worst system devised by wit of man, except for all the others.” For the UAE could not have achieved what it has in such a short time were it a democracy. In order to achieve such rapid development decisions have to be made and acted on at pace simply unachievable by democratic deliberation and, just as the economic timing of the UAE’s development has been almost flawless, it has realized that the pace of development would be inversely proportional to excessive broadening to Churchill’s “worst system”.
Of course, with success comes criticism and Dubai is constantly under the skeptics’ gun, but let’s face it. If detractors weren’t criticizing Dubai then it really would have fallen short to quote the words of Elbert Hubbard, “The man who is anybody and who does anything is surely going to be criticized, vilified, and misunderstood. This is part of the penalty for greatness, and every man understands, too, that it is no proof of greatness”. And that lack of proof is where Dubai must beware. In business a company is only as good as its next transaction (i.e. you won’t get good opportunities if your not performing) and Dubai has forced itself into what appears to be a rather undiversified portfolio using Yes as its currency to set the pace for the development of the region. Concurrently, Abu Dhabi, with its stunning islands and more cautious approach to development with a budget that is not dependent on development, is now well on track to become the golden city of the Middle East within five years. Meanwhile, the development of the second man made Palm Island at Jebel Ali demonstrates that such initiatives are only limited by imagination and the will to make it happen from top to bottom.
The economic stimulus, and federal assurance that Abu Dhabi brings to the UAE’s table is stunning given the fact that the UAE is the size of the State of Maine in the USA and yet, thanks to its natural resources, it has budget surplus of the likes that most countries, including the US, can only dream of. The wealth accumulated by the oil production and reserves of Abu Dhabi has reached estimates running into the trillion Dollar plus mark. Indeed it is rumored that there is over a $1trillion seeking investment from the Abu Dhabi government alone. But what is humbling about Abu Dhabi and its leadership is it absolute humility in its relatively recent wealth and that it has blended each of the Seven Emirates to have its own character to meet their respective customs and cultures.
Abu Dhabi, though senior to Dubai has watched with cautious pride as Dubai used its only plentiful resource (Yes) to build its silver city and prove that the “build it and they will come” will happen. The ongoing developments at Al Rass and Reem Island to mention just two in Abu Dhabi threaten to create the new Monte Carlo of the Middle East. The additions of the Guggenheim and Louvre as well as the Formula 1 track merely underline the class of intentions within the leadership of the Nation and the Senior Emirate. These contrasts in city character and their very different development and tastes serve to create a pot-pouri of living styles and standards to suit almost any taste, and the recent emphasis on the creation of low-budget housing will be further encouraged by the current financial environment. The parallels in ambience, style and relationship between the way Abu Dhabi and Dubai are developing and those that exist between the two very different characters of Washington DC and New York in the US is perhaps demonstrative of how the two sibling cities in the UAE will co-exist. In fact there is every chance that the challenges imposed on the UAE will lead to greater synergy between its cities, where the “Vive le difference”, as the French would say, will provide additional stimulus during the global recovery.
So how will the UAE cope during the current global crisis? I believe the answer is several fold, but I am of the strong view that opportunity invariable comes to those who have been in the right place at the right time. The UAE enjoys a record surplus, while the USA has record deficits, so despite the rapid decline in the price of oil it is merely profits that have declined and the country remains in positive cash flow. During this summer the world was being crushed by the $150 dollar a barrel, which is now proven beyond all doubt as speculator-driven. This period, in terms of checks and balances will now prove crucial for the UAE and with prices now having dropped by over $100 dollars, it is interesting to see analytic forward pricing trend towards $60-$80 per barrel during 2009. If this pricing comes to fruition it will be a net result for 2008/2009 in the region of $100 per barrel across this period, which is relatively positive by any measure. There is little doubt that Dubai is in an over-exposed position in the property sector, but to achieve what it has by this means was absolutely necessary. The property development and the living environments that have been created have been crucial to developing the UAE as a cosmopolitan center of business and leisure. Without such development and corresponding exposure, what would Dubai or the UAE be today?
The answer lies in neighboring comparisons. Its investment in real estate that has housed the human sprit in its droves and the property sector will doubtless need restructuring of its debt and a lowering of growth expectation. Be under no illusions the development and its pace has been essential in how it physically represented the image of the UAE to the World and in terms of how it has been recognized and envied as such. Perhaps there could have been more preparation and holding of reserves in respect to a market correction, which was long anticipated in its coming, but just not with such speed from global effect. So Dubai will now retrench a little but one must put this into perspective. The property boom really has served its purpose so far as the nation is concerned, and will continue to do so, even if the short-term forces reduced expectation. It is interesting to observe that as the property market goes through its correction purchasing will decrease but demands for rentals are increasing.
It is also of note that the internal mortgage business is nowhere near the distressed condition of the US or Europe. It estimated that only 40% of properties in Dubai are mortgaged so the domestic effect of a correction in prices should not radically impose a negative-equity situation on the majority of property owners. Also, the appreciation of property beyond the previous 6 months leaves most owners with enough margins to still sell at profit despite a radical slowdown in buyer turnover. By slowing or halting new developments Dubai ensures that its growth is controlled by itself rather than outside forces and its adjustment of supply to meet demand must be quick and decisive. This will aid the recovery of its most critical sector. Concurrently, lessons will be learned and as borrowing is restructured and redistributed then some of the basics of diversification will be important to prepare for the next surge. Where oil is not in plentiful supply investment in gold to underpin the economy will be vital and investment in renewable energy and advances in technology while the market is cheap will be just two aspects that should be aggressively addressed. At my own company we are actively seeking to encourage companies that are developing the next generation of radically reduced carbon footprint gas turbine engine to relocate to the UAE.
During the great depression of 1929 the US President, Herbert Hoover, made the mistake of taking no corrective action and choosing to “ride it out” by doing nothing. He was unfortunately unable to obtain the information that should have made him do the contrary in order to put energy into his stunted economy. President Obama on the other hand, not only has full access to information that will impact his decision making process, but by not being in power during this time of crisis, he has been able to formulate a plan of action without being forced to trickle down bail outs as a knee-jerk reaction. Following his inauguration he will also doubtless enjoy a honeymoon period of cooperation from the Congress and Senate in terms of implementing a recovery. He has already demonstrated that he will be the opposite of Hoover and has specifically has pledged to increase M1, (the amount of physical money in circulation) in order to stimulate the US economy.
This raises an interesting specter for the UAE, with the currency peg to the dollar and, therefore, US Monetary Policy. It is likely the UAE will take the prudent measure to move proportionally with the US and increase M1 of its own currency to maintain true spending and value parity with the US Dollar. The effect is likely to be noticeably positive for the UAE, not least because the Emirates are nowhere near the distressed depth or size of the USA, and like a speed boat compared to a supertanker the UAE can be turned due to its decisive leadership being unhampered by lengthy political wrangling. The increase of M1 will create greater spending power, but with the potential downside of having to control the effect of rapid inflation once the global recovery is start to take place. This can be countered by precautionary measures taken at action-on-node at the occurrence of specific local economic indicators. But in the immediate effect of the slowdown will have one positive effect on the UAE. Its inflation, which has been a burden over the past tree years (at 9 to 13% per annum) will be reduced and with careful management of M1 the return to increased inflation might actually be less than it has been over the boom years!
The seriousness of the current crisis cannot be overstated, but the asset value of a monetary surplus at this moment in time is probably at its most valuable in the history of the world. We have entered a new age and the rules of the game have been turned on their head. Those who are individually over exposed must be careful about making strategic decisions on the behalf of others, the well being of the UAE is there for the keeping and its potential to increase its global ranking and standing, through a balanced medium term portfolio is has the potential to place the country on its strongest footing in its 37 year history.
Conversely on the other side of the world the USA now admits it has been in recession for two years! At least now the debt addiction has been admitted and the rehab can begin; but it has been a long time in coming and it is of note that it took Lehman Brothers to be caught with the overdose that brought all the other credit addicts out of the closet.
What is interesting is that the words of Joseph Schumpeter, probably one of the most acclaimed economists of all time, ring true when he argued that capitalism exists in the state of ferment he dubbed "creative destruction," with spurts of innovation destroying established enterprises and yielding new ones. Hence the process of creative destruction is an essential fact about capitalism. In fact Schumpeter’s theory goes beyond economics. It is a sobering thought that the only thing all Empires have in common is that they all fall! Creative destruction is time’s political and capitalist tide.
Capitalism is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only ever is, but never can be stationary. The movement of creative destruction translates into the migration of opportunity and following the global melt down we can now see clearly that the migration of opportunity from west to east is well underway. It is likely to continue with the top league of nimble developing nations (like the UAE) leading the way in path-finding the recovery. The leviathans may have a more challenging time but the advantages of natural resources combined with traditions of cheap labor will aid the migration of opportunity’s relative speed of development as asset capture to increase. When the US emerges from the recession the global business landscape will be very different. Be under no illusions, we are in the equivalent of a financial ice age and when the big thaw occurs there will be financial mountains and valleys where there were previously none. The UAE is well placed to be a mountain of significant proportion if it continues to use the combination of its resources to control its debt and its wisdom in its regard to its surplus and its agility in the domestic and global market place. Destruction is an essential part of capitalism and the UAE will feel some internal pain as a price for its growth, but it has the resources to emerge to be more of a mountain than it perhaps ever thought it could be.
But has and is the UAE driven by greed and lust for power? In part I suppose the answer is “Yes”, but I would argue that this is not overwhelming ingredient to what has and will happen in the country. This year has seen the leadership of the UAE take fast and decisive action against those who financially abused their positions of considerable privilege. It is immensely reassuring to see that the statements regarding the adoption of good business practice are being implemented and enforced. Individuals in positions of corporate responsibility must be subject to the regulatory and legal scrutiny that is fitting of such executives, not least because their actions threaten the very stability of local stock markets and the country’s very reputation. It is a sad fact of human nature that power brings with it incidents of dishonesty and corruption. In the words of the disappointed and departing Cleopatra’s lover, Mark Anthony, “Power is a liar and a cheat unless controlled.” That the UAE has moved rapidly to punish and deter such behavior with equal and consistent hand is of reassurance to every honest businessman in the Emirates.
Perhaps one of the most regrettable lines in any movie in history was that spoken by Michel Douglas when he played Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street when he claimed at a shareholders meeting “Greed is Good.” He went on to say, “Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.” Gordon may be right to an extent, but it’s my view that whilst greed has its place as a human fuel, it has a limited shelf life; and we surely are seeing the result of greed right now in the global economy. The meltdown has been undoubtedly caused by overwhelming greed in the world’s largest economy. I believe that when compared to man’s vision and his ability to think in new productive process then “greed” pales into insignificance as a series of short term plays that serve to create the perception of wealth in so much as it is term limited by an over-reach of greed.
Such creative production processes have developed the UAE as the physical and financial hinge between the US & EU to India & China. The development of Emirates and Etihad airlines was not to create airlines for airlines sake, it was part of a strategic plan to create a global hub in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and expose travelers to their rapid development. The airline has done just that and the construction of the UAE’s new airports say it all. Dubai’s new airport will be the largest airport in the world with 4 parallel runways and, having broken ground just one year ago, will be complete in two years time. Abu Dhabi is building a new airport and, in a time friendly stroke of genius, is converting its city airport from the military to a corporate jet centre.
Additionally, the development of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), in part, sees the fruition of intent to create a financial centre that meets various aspects of financial operation whilst meeting international financial standards, under its very own laws and courts of law. This structure permits 100% foreign ownership in any DIFC registered company. The Dubai Financial Services Authority provides the regulatory credibility required by international investors, and the DIFC has attracted many major financial names, and many small ones. In the current environment it is important for the UAE to combine its three stock exchanges and permit greater foreign investment across the board. Liquidity is key and investors will place their money with those countries that have the potential to lead the journey to global recovery, the UAE is without doubt one of those countries. Additionally the creation of an Emirates International Financial Centers (EIFC) of which the DIFC becomes a part will permit an accelerated foreign investment process throughout the UAE under one internationally recognized regulatory standard. This will further enhance and build the mountain under the ice for the benefit the entire nation come the financial thaw.
We should perhaps consider one more quote from Greedy Gordon as a warning, “It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a zero sum game, somebody wins, and somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred from one perception to another.” This has been the US case; the problem then arose when someone tried to put a Net Asset Value on that perception at Lehman Brother’s and the world, whilst reaping the benefits of greed now feels the pain. In comparison the overwhelming federal trend in the UAE has not been to let greed consume the surplus, but reserve it for the today’s “rainy day”.
So, to be frank, if there is anywhere an opportunist, entrepreneur or ambition would want to be right now, then it is difficult to think of somewhere as poised as the UAE. There remains significant, if not maximized, opportunity in the UAE as a trading hub for mergers and acquisitions, not least because it can take advantage of being part of the bargain hunting that will ensue by implementing small energizers and taking conservative positions to get the job done and build its mountain. Now more than ever in corporate terms it’s not good enough to be a visitor. The one common thread is that a company must have a footprint in the UAE in order to achieve traction, but why wouldn’t you? The days of the carpet-bagger are over, you must have skin in the UAE game and be on the field of play to score a touch-down and the only difference in business between the big guns and the little guns is that the big guns were the little guns who kept shooting! The positioning of businesses to adjust to the predicted 7% growth in the UAE’s GDP during 2009 will see a tightening of the belts and there will be casualties. But the reduction of inflation in a tax-free environment will do much to soften the blow compared to the situation in the UK and US.
As the economy slows the UAE the government will doubtless move fast to deal with the negatives that come with slower growth. It has grown used to 100% employment within its country! If employees are currently laid off within a sector, due to visa restrictions and a 30-day exit policy there is no contingency for the individual to have enough time to find another job. Extending the visa termination by 90-days in this case will permit the individual to job seek within the UAE with a reasonable chance of success rather than simply return to his/her country of domicile. This measure will also help to stabilize the property market in terms of maintaining demand for accommodations amongst the 85% expatriate population of the UAE. We will doubtless see many such initiatives from the UAE to adjust to the new rules of the global financial game, because when it moves it does so with speed and decisiveness in policy and implementation.
My father used to tell me, “It’s important to experience bad times so that you can appreciate the good times,” and that, “Everything is relative.” The modern UAE that has been built on the power of “Yes” is without doubt in the top tier in regard to its placing and condition to cope with the global crisis. What the UAE has achieved in the previous 5,500 days has not been achieved by most countries in as many years! I for one believe the next period will have its challenges, but that the UAE will emerge stronger for the experience. It retains a global and motivated workforce of highly professional expatriates who are aware of the privileges they enjoy and are time sensitive to getting the job done.
The average living standards are a step up from their country of domicile and the environment remains energized because the people are determined to make it work. This has resulted in the UAE being arguably one the best places to live and work in the current global financial crisis. And all this built not from oil as the single vital ingredient but from two generations of leadership that has embraced and understood the will of working men and women from all cultures to succeed. So they welcomed and respected such cultures with which few other countries can compare. They made the expatriate expertise welcome not just by words but by their deeds and proved the power of the word “Yes”, when well directed, is greater than any other in order to build their nation for all who call the UAE “Home."