Unfortunately, I was not here to see the Union being formed, but I have been in the United Arab Emirates for more than two decades. All I can say is: Wow!
What an amazing journey it has been.
I came here at a time when the city of Dubai stopped at the edge of Karama… at the most Dubai World Trade Centre. There was nothing beyond except for Toyota and Habitat Buildings at Defence Roundabout.
We would moan if any press conference was organised at what was then called Chicago Beach Hotel [now Jumeirah Beach Hotel]. If I had to go to Jebel Ali Free Zone, I would line up four to six interviews so not to “waste” the trip out of town.
Now I think nothing of zipping along to Abu Dhabi, especially on the “new” Sheikh Zayed Road. I was used for years to the two lanes on either side of the old Abu Dhabi highway.
The world has truly changed and not always for the better. Wars have come and gone. Worldwide financial turmoil has swept through and departed. Global tensions have reached highs and dissipated.
But at each change, I have seen the UAE get affected – but each time I have seen the UAE pick itself up and rise higher than before.
The UAE – and particularly Dubai – rose into global prominence as a major business hub after the Iran-Iraq War.
The Burj Al Arab became a global icon of pre-eminent quality of life offered by the Emirates after the Kuwait War, along with the amazing Palm islands and other world-beating developments.
Burj Khalifa came up after the Iraq War.
These are just some of the examples of how the UAE takes a negative and truns it into a bigger positive.
Recently, we have had the Mercer report on global quality of life which said Dubai not only continuing to lead the region but actually improving its world ranking. Abu Dhabi was ranked number 2 in the region.
All these achievements, I can say, were not by accident.
It took wise and visionary leadership, deep and laborious research, tremendous amounts of hard work and determination to achieve and succeed.
The result – for example – a world tower [Burj Khalifa – 808m] that is higher by its nearest rival [Taipei 101 – 511m] by not just a few metres, but by almost a third of a kilometre [297 metres].
Even top construction industry professionals did not think it would have been possible until the UAE and Dubai showed it could be done.
I am fortunate to have lived in this country at this juncture of time – I have seen things that I would never have dreamt of or imagined anywhere else – East or West [and I have lived in both places].
The quality of life that I have experienced – even during the worst of the global recession – was better than elsewhere and I am thankful for that.
Now with Eurozone in turmoil and OECD threatened, I am not so worried. I know lessons have been learned and measures put in place to protect life and property.
In fact, I am looking forward to the coming years as a guest in this beautiful country. I am excited and await the next phase in the progress of this nation.
Whatever comes next, I am assured that it will be truly breath-taking… equally or even more than it has been so far.
Mabruk & Thanks UAE!