Life

Expo 2020, another day under the glorious sun in Dubai

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By NAFHA MAANI EBRAHIMI

Posted  Sunday, December 8   2013 at  02:00
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The news of Dubai winning the bid to host Expo 2020, came as no surprise. When even the highest ranking United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials said they were holding their breath not knowing the outcome of the vote, deep down I had a feeling that Dubai would make it.
To compete against a giant like Brazil’s Sao Paulo, the Ancient city of Izmir in Turkey and the Mammoth Russian power represented in the city of Yekaterinburg and beat all three, surely places Dubai on the world map, again.

I have never seen a city that distinguishes itself in such a way as Dubai does. Although it is not the capital of the United Arab Emirates, it has made a name that is known to millions in the world. This fame is such that whenever I am talking about a country in the region, that people have no clue where it is, I refer to it as being near Dubai, then there is a nod of approval that shows the picture has become clear.

I have also rarely seen a city that emerges from a desert coming up with such development in such a short span of time. And, then when you think they have done everything to surprise you, something new pops up that leaves you even more amazed.

And to prove that there are no magical powers at work in that city, Dubai had its share of tests and trials when the economic world came near halt in 2008-2009. Many grand projects, ones that were on paper and others that had started went off screen. Investors returned home crying and thousands lost their life savings in the process.

Having a big sister like Abu-Dhabi (the Capital city of UAE) and the tireless efforts of Dubai’s leaders helped it to bounce back. Trust was built again and although not as before, investors have given Dubai another chance.

One of the main reasons behind Dubai’s strength is its leaders. The ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, is a very well-known personality in the world. He is also the author of one of my favourite books: My Vision…Challenges in the Race for Excellence.

In his vision, Sheikh Mohammed works on the idea of excellence in all things, and unlike many rulers in the region who count on the riches brought to them by the oil fields. His vision is how to progress when those fields go dry and an early start has already put him way ahead of others.

Dubai’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad al-Maktoum, who is no less ambitious than his father, scaled the spire of BurjKhalifa, the tallest building in the world. This was during the campaigns of bidding to host the expo 2020. The just released video of him sitting on top of that building takes your breath away. Another first in the region where young princes are indulged in life’s luxuries, this Prince has no fear of future challenges.

A ruler cannot lead an unwilling and non-supportive people to prosperity, and from years of knowing Emiratis and especially ones from Dubai, I could feel the immense love people have for their leader. While he is making sure their interests are taken care of and their city is prospering, they hold him in very high regard and utmost respect.

I once saw a picture of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum sitting by the roadside with a little boy who was waiting for his ride back home after a day at school. No one knows what the ruler was discussing with the little boy, but in that picture I saw him planting seeds of love and respect in the young heart.