Mohammed's Q&A is a remarkable exercise in transparent leadership

Sheikh Mohammed responded frankly and in detail to questions on a wide range of issues sent to him by members of the public via his website. (SUPPLIED)

Top business leaders and government officials yesterday welcomed the online question-and-answer session held by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Sheikh Mohammed responded frankly and in detail to questions on a wide range of issues sent to him by members of the public via his website. Here is what some of the country's leading figures had to say about this remarkable exercise in transparency:

Ahmad bin Shbib Al Dhaheri, Deputy Speaker, Federal National Council: "What Sheikh Mohammed said about the foreign press was 100 per cent true. The local press should play its role by presenting the facts and replying to misunderstandings in foreign media. It should make clear to the whole world that the UAE economy is strong."

Saeed A Khoory, Group Chief Executive, Enoc: "Sheikh Mohammed's first e-interaction with the public reflects His Highness's wish for greater transparency and keenness to make the UAE and Dubai a hub for excellence and innovation. This reflects a depth of thinking and high political awareness that characterises the way His Highness manages issues that pertain to nationals and residents alike living in the UAE. His responses to the various questions from the public were powerful, clear and objective. He did not ignore any issue that related to the UAE. He responded to the campaign waged against the UAE and Dubai that aimed to give a negative perspective on a developing, successful, clear and unified model. This is the price that successful people have to pay. His Highness emerges as a leading dynamic figure able to deal with all changes and challenges regardless of how tough they are."

Hussain Al Qemzi, Group CEO, Noor Islamic Bank and Noor Investment Group: "The remarkable e-interaction by Sheikh Mohammed emphasises a powerful federal commitment to the ongoing promotion of interactive dialogue and bilateral communication between the leadership and the people. The Prime Minister's frank and visionary responses to a host of questions and concerns from citizens and residents alike reinforces the firm belief that the UAE remains one of the most progressive, tolerant and transparent nations in the world – and certainly one of the best countries in which to live."

Mohammed Khalifa bin Fahd Al Muhairi, Director-General, Federal Customs Authority: "The international financial crisis has shown the extent of the lies foreign newspapers have carried about the UAE. Undoubtedly the crisis made the confederation stronger. The visit of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, was a historical event that confirmed to everyone that the UAE and Abu Dhabi, in particular, support Dubai's policies."

Nasser Al Nuwais, Chairman, Rotana Hotels: "Unfortunately the majority of foreign reporters had bad intentions. The UAE has become a developed country that attracts a large number of foreigners. It has a distinguished business position in the world. But the foreign reporters did not write anything about the UAE's recovery from the crisis, though all signs confirm that our financial and economic sectors are strong."

BR Shetty, Managing Director and CEO, NMC Group: "The announcement made by Sheikh Mohammed during his interaction with the public with regard to the review and reduction of government service fees gives impetus to our efforts to recover from the current economic slowdown. His words mirror the keenness of the government to bolster the economy of the country and its competitiveness with its visionary support. The decision should help to stabilise the economic environment and inject positive energy among investors."

Khaled Kalban, Managing Director and CEO, Dubai Investments: "The interaction of Sheikh Mohammed with the citizens is yet another step towards creating transparency, especially in difficult times. Such interaction puts people at ease."

Otaiba Al Otaiba, board member, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Head, Property Sector Committee: "I agree with what Sheikh Mohammed said about the bad intentions of some foreign reporters. I think the attacks on Dubai by the foreign press are simply attributable to feelings of envy and jealousy, especially as Dubai has promoted itself as an attractive hub for foreign investment."

Chief Judge Mohammed Yousuf Sulaiman, Deputy Director, Dubai Courts, and Senior Judge, Cassation Court: "Sheikh Mohammed is connecting with the people of Dubai and this is a very positive and good step. People have been saying some wrong things and this is the best way to clear the rumours since he is the man with all the answers."

Sulaiman Al Mazroui, General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Communications, ENBD: "Sheikh Mohammed's interactions with the media and the public are a new and unique way of communicating with people and hearing their views. They enable the public to know his views about public and private matters. And this shows his keenness to consolidate the concept of democratic dialogue between him and all sectors of the society."

Dr Ahmed Al Banna, an economics expert: "I think the most prominent issue in Sheikh Mohammed's dialogue was the relationship with Iran. He said there was no contradiction between having business ties with Iran and its occupation of the islands. He also clarified the state's stance on the Iranian nuclear weapons issue. His answers confirm the UAE's approach to foreign policy, which is based on the principle of good neighbourliness, non-intervention in other countries' internal affairs and ending disagreements through peaceful means according to the principles of international law."

Dr Mohamed Murad, Director, Decision Support Centre, Dubai Police: "What drew my attention was that an award will be launched at the federal level under the name of Sheikh Khalifa, which will be a good initiative at the level of ministries and federal bodies. It will have an obvious effect on the plans and performance of federal bodies and this will benefit employees and visitors to these bodies."

Deepak Bhabani, CEO, Eros Group: "Sheikh Mohammed is an inspiring leader and a true visionary. He has transformed the region into a major global hub for business, finance, trade and tourism. He is a role model for a new generation of Arab leaders and this session brings him closer to the masses. His pursuit of excellence percolates down to the builders of tomorrow's Arab World."

Arif Obaid Al Muhairi, Executive Director, Dubai Statistics Centre: "Sheikh Mohammed's interactive communication with the public, both UAE nationals and expatriates, through his website is unprecedented. He was keen to reply to any question in a sincere and objective way. He was objective in dealing with the issue of Dubai's strategy when he said that it was possible to modify the strategic plan and extend its timescale. And he underlined the importance of freedom of expression and listening to all points of view – even if they are critical ones."

Dr TP Ghosh, Professor of Finance, Dubai Institute of Management Technology: "The views of Sheikh Mohammed are not surprising because the global economy is already on the path towards recovery. The oil price trend is clear, signalling a better global economic outlook. He added the money raised through $10 billion (Dh36.7bn) bond issue is already trickling down to the property and real estate sector and there are clear signs of improved liquidity."

Saad Maniar, Partner, Horwath Mak: "Sheikh Mohammed's Q&A with the nation gives positive signals about the strength and the stability of the UAE as a nation. Some of Sheikh Mohammed's great initiatives such as the development of infrastructure, education, healthcare and human capital will bring enormous benefits to the country in the long run. Certainly under the visionary leadership and with the confidence of the people in their leaders, the UAE is poised to normalise the effect of the credit crisis sooner then the rest of the world. There cannot be a safer and better place to live and do business in the world than the UAE and the credit goes solely to our visionary leaders."

Saif Saeed bin Saed Al Suwaidi, Chairman, Consultative Council of Sharjah: "Sheikh Mohammed's interactive dialogue with the public is a civilised approach, which aims to establish communication between the nation and the leadership.

"What drew my attention at the local level was Sheikh Mohammed's concentration on the accommodation issue, as he tries to find suitable accommodation for UAE national families. The excellence award carrying the name of Sheikh Khalifa will be a good initiative and encourage excellence and competition among ministries and federal bodies and motivate employees to innovate."

Sajith Kumar KP, CEO and Director, JRG Commodities, DMCC: "A property market revival is possible now. A lot of new companies are registering in the free zones, especially in DMCC and Ras Al Khaimah. Many Indian businesses regard Dubai as upper India and new Indian companies in various fields are booking office space in the free zones."

KV Shamsuddin, Director, Barjeel Geojith Securities: "The mood of disappointment and pessimism is giving way to optimism and confidence. The speculators who were present in the market will disappear. The genuine investors who were closely watching the market will come back once the speculators go."

Mohamed Salman Al Aboodi, Deputy Academic Director, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi: "We are accustomed to Sheikh Mohammed's sincere efforts, beliefs and work for the welfare of the UAE. We cannot ignore his efforts, despite his busy and tight schedule, to devote time to communicate directly with members of the public from all sorts of backgrounds and hear what they have to say. We don't see this in many countries – even ones that claim to be modern, advanced and well developed. Such down-to-earth attitudes and tolerance reflect true Arab and Islamic values and morals and the way we have been raised by our families. Why the surprise at such interaction between him and members of the public, regardless of who they are? His main concern is the comfort of all who live in this country since he strongly believes there is no development to the nation without the development of the human being, and vice-versa. Believe me, this kind of close interaction with the public is not seen in many countries."

Oussama El Omari, CEO and Director-General, Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone Authority: "We have always been inspired by the initiatives of Sheikh Mohammed at the Dubai and UAE levels. Yes, we are part of this world and there has been a financial crisis. His steps to interact with the media and now the public have been closing the bridge between the decision-makers in the UAE and the public on what have been taken by the government to face the current global slowdown successfully with minimum impact on the different business sectors that make up the UAE economy. His initiatives confirm Dubai and the UAE as a unique hub for all sorts of activities in the region and on the globe."


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