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18 April, 2007

Sheikh Mo gets a grip

In a society where criticism is antithetical to local culture, Sheikh Mohammed's recent public censure of several government ministries is unprecedented. It also suggests - like the cancelling of the Jumeirah Beach development project - that public opinion and expert, expat advice is getting through.

The Ministry of Labour has rightly been condemned for its absurdly heavy-handed and misguided approach to Emiratisation, which included the total nationalisation of PROs, secretaries and human resource managers:

"It is very easy to impose Emiratisation. We can do this any time, but what would we gain if we did not provide our youth with the best knowledge, skill and expertise to commensurate with these jobs?" asked His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

Something the private sector has been pointing out for ages: what is the benefit to an economy if unfit personnel are hired solely because of their nationality? It means either incompetence and inexperience, or expensive "phantom jobs" - where a lower-paid expat does the real work behind the scenes, with the local taking the credit.

The Ministry of Justice also received a few thunderclaps from the sheikhly hammer:

"I have read the reports of the justice and safety ministerial team and did field trips to the courts and the ministry of justice. I was surprised and expressed my utmost dissatisfaction with what I read and saw. It was living 20 years behind [other ministries]," he said.

Improvements will include the translation of laws into English, a critical step for a country that seeks to operate on a level platform with a English-speaking global business world.

Education also came in for a battering, with standards still appalling low despite huge increases in funding:

"The current status of our education system is compiling huge losses to the UAE and its people."

The criticised ministers are taking the comments on the chin, not that they have much choice. And this is perhaps the deeper import of Sheikh Mohammed's comments. Finally ending the sacrosanct regional culture of "saving face" and the abnegation of personal responsibility that this nearly always entails.

The Vision® is back on track, and UAE society is growing up.

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Blogger DXBluey said...

Hi SD,

Not sure why, if it was my interpretation or your posts, but I felt your posts had drifted a bit off target recently...

BANG back on it with this one though. Well written, concise, cutting through a lot of reporting to deliver the crux of the matter.

I do believe that without one or two exceptional leaders, this country would be nowhere near being competitive...

Welcome back SD.



18 April, 2007 22:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post, but... isn't it all just for public consumption. I've heard these, "We're finally going to get our shit together" speeches and campaigns so many times, I no longer take any notice. A few cheap propaganda speeches can't displace very deep seated cultural attitudes and behaviour.

18 April, 2007 23:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fabulous blog!

Keep up the great work!

God bless,
Bill Corrigan
Long Island, NY

19 April, 2007 00:15  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hey there, Salaam,

I linked you and encourage people to visit your site:


19 April, 2007 01:11  
Blogger BuJ said...

a healthy dose of positivity.. and no signs of cynicism... not exactly too little too late.. but a step in the right direction

19 April, 2007 02:02  
Blogger ann said...

I respect Sheikh Mo® even more now for standing up and speaking out.

He and his team have evaluated a lot of objective research results - he's not just speaking arbitrarily.

19 April, 2007 02:44  
Blogger Rex Venom said...

I have been to Dubai a few times, and I have always left knowing that I would enjoy to return. Hot chicks, too.
Hee hee
Rock on!

19 April, 2007 06:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The UAE is going to become the largest corporation in the world with Sheikh Mohamed as its CEO. We are so lucky to have such a government and such leadership.

19 April, 2007 09:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing left now for you to do, SD, is to stick a poster of Shaikh Mo's son on your vehicle's rear windscreen!

19 April, 2007 10:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a good start. Have heard these buzz words before in several business seminars, and wonder if this is cut and paste. The mind set and attitude have to drastically change, if UAE or other GCC countries, would like to be on par with modern civilization. I have seen a mix of people here, and the typical ones are the uneducated. Good luck to UAE and its leadership !!

19 April, 2007 11:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dubai Inc has a CEO in Sheik Mo who's willing to do what so many other managers in this country fail to do, and that's manage! He has reviewed the departments, found them sadly lacking and directed the process of improvement. We can only hope the previously unknown concept of accountability will filter down the bureaucracy.

19 April, 2007 12:43  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

Actually funding for education has not increased much over the last decade, and when you factor in the huge government mandated salary increases the nonsalary component of the education budget may be down.

In one of the articles he talks about the cost savings when nonnationals were no longer to attend government schools. But in fact the quality of education fell after those students were excluded. They were serving two beneficial roles: enhancement of the learning environment for and competition with their fellow students.

19 April, 2007 13:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh God, any more of this syscophancy and I'll throw myself off a cliff.

19 April, 2007 13:44  
Blogger rosh said...

Yes I agree - a positive leader makes all the difference. I read his comments over and over again, and the GN article (minus the fluff)

He just makes it all seem so easy, doesn't he? I mean driving from from SHJ to DXB one can feel the poistive energy for change, developement, best in class mangement and more.

It's quite commendable & inspiring, and often leaves me thinking - why can't SHJ take on these steps - we live right next door!


19 April, 2007 14:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are some of you folks always so negative, credit due to UAE acknowledging difficulties as it grows.

Today it is reported Sharjah will consider metro, so possibly we will see a truly United Arab Emirates!

Remember a few years ago Sheikh Mohammed turned up at Courts, Maktoum Bridge, & discovered all the Judiciary were on an early lunch & sacked the lot. Possibly probation period is now over.

19 April, 2007 19:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Words come cheap but all the problems remain I'm afraid. You only have to look at the terrible toll of death, injury and exploitation among the labour camp army who are actually building the city to see that.

19 April, 2007 20:11  
Blogger juxtaposed2.0 said...

nice to know that he is atleast bothered about stuff which the private sector is doing....but i wanted to know whether he is actually doin anything about it?

and is this site blocked in Dubai ??

20 April, 2007 01:06  
Blogger Al Ain Taxi said...

"The current status of our education system is compiling huge losses to the UAE and its people."

Yes, and it seems the budget is being spent on flash new buildings while teachers salaries remain stagnant. No wonder the best educators are going else where.

20 April, 2007 09:03  
Blogger Jassim said...

To tell the truth...alot of Emaraties amongst ourselves are still keeping a watchful eye on Sheikh Mo's progress and the jury is still out on him, coz not everyone is convinced that he is taking Dubai (and the UAE) in the right direction. But this thing that happened last week had everyone with their jaws dropping to the floor.

Over the past year he has been making unannouced visits to various institutes and keeping everyone on their toes and now we are seeing the results of this. It is good that he named and shamed the slackers and hopefully this pragmatic (dunno if that is the correct word here) way of keeping track of things can extend further, so our country doesnt end up looking like a big international embarrisement - a 1st World Country with a 3rd World infrastucture and mentality.

My 2 fils

20 April, 2007 11:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Big Man wasn't naming these folks in public so they would start hauling arse, I don't think. It's not about driving performance in others through fear. This is a pep-talk - a soft one, actually - 'Fellas, it's ok to fail, but one must try. The Big Man can't make every decision around here.'

Look at media, censorship issues. Sheikh Mo don't care, supposedly, about critical press, but the subordinates won't presume to judge what's kosh i mean acceptable and so they go with caution.

On the other hand, to the commentor who says kudos to the UAE for ID'ing faults as it grows: Yes, but that's also the oldest trick in the book, all over the world. Followthrough is a different matter.

I'm a foreigner and this isn't my fight. I just benefit from the fight in the short term. Until those educations standards rise, I guess.

20 April, 2007 17:46  
Blogger rosh said...

"To tell the truth...alot of Emaraties amongst ourselves are still keeping a watchful eye on Sheikh Mo's progress and the jury is still out on him, coz not everyone is convinced that he is taking Dubai (and the UAE) in the right direction."

Jassim - why don't you "help" the man with the process then? why be part of the jury to "judge" him - how productive is that?

I've lived in SHJ all my life - and it pains to see this city lagging in 1980's -almost everything we do defies logic, whilst Dubai perhaps has moved beyond 2007.

As someone who've lived in this nation when we used abras to cross into Bur Dubai - it's inspiring to feel the positive energy, each day I drive into the city.

Point being, he is visionary - just look around you - help him achieve his goals/dreams. Ofcourse not all is perfect, but help yaani - you have that option.

my 2 fils

21 April, 2007 00:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll help - but how? I really want to get involved. Any suggestions?

21 April, 2007 17:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a wee note to this. Public humiliation of ministers etc is quite an odd step. Ultra rare in Western democracies, it was a favored tool of Stalin, reaching its apogee in the show trials in Moscow of Bukharin, etc. Most recnetly, Turkmenistan's now-dead but at the time clinically insane leader used to host regular half hour TV shows where he would berate ministers for their numerous failings.

22 April, 2007 13:45  

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