Marching ahead to the tune of progress
Meeting adversity with courage and optimism is Dubai's way of answering its critics. The resilience of Dubai's economy is personified by the calm determination of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to face the challenges posed by the global financial crisis.
In November Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee, told the global media that debt is no longer a big concern for Dubai's economy as some of the leading government-owned entities have made significant progress in restructuring their obligations.
Later when asked by reporters if he was hopeful about Dubai's restructuring, Shaikh Mohammad said with a confident smile: "I am optimistic."
His optimism is backed by credible action. Some of the complex financial and organisational restructurings of leading government companies have been achieved in the past 10 months.
Senior government officials who are involved in the restructuring process say Dubai's debt's are within manageable limits. "The current sovereign debt of Dubai is about $30 billion (Dh110.18 billion)," said Mohammad Ebrahim Al Shaibani, Director-General of the Dubai Ruler's Court.
Shaikh Mohammad told Bloomberg Television last September that Dubai's vision is unchanged and the emirate was ready to meet any challenges that lie ahead.
Dubai has delivered major projects such as the multi-billion dirham Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah, Jumeirah Lake Towers, International City, Dubai Maritime City, Dubai Metro, Al Maktoum Airport and all the road projects are progressing on schedule, while some of the less important construction projects could face some delays.
Leading international agencies and banks are convinced that Dubai is on a strong recovery path. While Standard Chartered has forecast 4 per cent growth for Dubai's economy in 2011, the International Monetary Fund expects more than 2 per cent growth.
Successes in foreign policy
As the UAE strives to become a key regional player and the only Arab country with western-backed nuclear energy, the government led by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has reached out to Europe, Latin America and even into the Pacific in an effort to bolster its diplomatic relations around the world.
The UAE also signed an agreement with France designed to allow Emirati diplomats to be stationed in French embassies in countries where the UAE has no diplomatic mission.
Shaikh Mohammad has also enhanced the UAE's status with high-profile visits to India, China, Iran, South Korea, Germany and France. These efforts have resulted in new diplomatic ties and brought existing relationships to new levels with several countries.
Political observers say the UAE's foreign policy, focused for years on boosting American and European trade and military ties, has expanded rapidly and that expansion has been marked by a desire to ensure stability in the region.
The UAE has diplomatic missions in at least 70 nations, according to the Foreign Ministry's website, but has diplomatic relations with more than double that number.
Education and culture
The Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation and the Universal Museums are two initiatives that show priorities of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to facilitate the fast progress to the age of knowledge by building potential in education and culture, creativity and pioneering business.
The Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation is a development foundation with a clear vision and a definite goal -- to participate in the development of the state of knowledge in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
The Foundation believes that knowledge and freedom are two sides of the same coin. It believes that building communities of knowledge requires the development of policies, laws and measures necessary to ensure the freedom of thought, research and publication, in addition to providing protection for intellectuals, researchers and inventors, while securing the independence of universities and research centres, Shaikh Mohammad said as he launched the first Knowledge Symposium of the foundation in 2007.
Another milestone is the Universal Museums project, which was launched in 2008 and will bring together leading collections from globally recognised museums for the first time, confirming his vision of Dubai as a vibrant global city that attracts the world's greatest artistic and cultural assets.
The project, located in Khor Dubai, a 27km stretch between Shindagha and Business Bay, will also have space for performances, artist ateliers and galleries.
The humanitarian initiatives His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched both locally and internationally are aimed at supporting the disadvantaged in their bid to overcome their problems and raise their standard of living.
Shaikh Mohammad's initiatives have earned a noble reputation regionally and globally, as they are directed at the poor; people deprived of basic human rights, the most important of which are education and healthcare, especially for children.
Dubai Cares and Noor Dubai are two of the most outstanding humanitarian campaigns to emerge from the UAE in recent times.
The former is aimed at fighting poverty with education, particularly in developing countries, where illiteracy is very high. The latter targets the delivery of preventative eye care to over one million people in developing countries as part of its drive to realise its goal of a world free from curable forms of blindness.
The Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation has played a crucial role in meeting the needs of those affected by natural disasters and political upheaval, such as earthquakes, flooding and war. The foundation has dispatched vast quantities of humanitarian aid to disaster victims, including food, tents and blankets, to alleviate suffering in affected areas.
Shaikh Mohammad has also launched a volunteer campaign which focuses on the benefits of volunteering, in line with the charitable establishment's continuous commitment to philanthropic values.
The Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charitable Foundation continues to participate and contribute to improving at-risk societies, helping citizens who cannot shoulder the weight of poverty, conflict and natural disasters ravaging their countries.
The UAE has committed more than Dh163 billion in foreign aid since its establishment in 1971 to fighting world hunger and poverty, said Shaikh Mohammad as he launched the country's first foreign aid report that relates to activities in 2009.
"This figure could exceed Dh200 billion and might even double if only added to the massive yet difficult-to-track donations by Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who generously donated to the poor and needy around the globe but never show off," Shaikh Mohammad said.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has long been the inspiration and driving force of sport in the country.
Through his vision and support Dubai, and the UAE as a whole, has emerged as one of the leading sporting hubs for major events like football, tennis, golf, rugby, motor sport, water sport and horse racing.
An essential element to his extraordinary vision for the growth and expansion of sport in the country has been the untiring focus on building a world-class sporting infrastructure. He is one of the most influential men in international horse racing and has played a significant role in racing the sport's profile across the globe. Earlier last year his vision gave birth to the iconic Meydan Racecourse which is believed to be one of the greatest sporting venues in the world. The new racecourse, which was built at a cost of over Dh700 billion, staged its first race meeting on January 28, 2010. Its first season of action culminated in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates airline, which was won by the French-trained horse Gloria De Campeao.
Today, 40 years since he first discovered his love for horses and sport, Shaikh Mohammad continues his search for new frontiers in his quest to take UAE sport to the highest level.Wednesday, January 5, 2011