Monday, November 09, 2009

Shaikh Mohammad tells Dubai doubters to shut up

I saw His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai on TV with a stern message for Dubai’s doubters – telling them to “shut up”.

Speaking about the stream of stories on Dubai - Abu Dhabi relations, Shaikh Mohammad restated the commitment between all of the emirates in the UAE.

Switching to English, he added: "Who doesn't understand this should do their homework before they start talking. We will be there for each other when we need it."

"And I want to tell those people who nag about Dubai and Abu Dhabi to shut up.”

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Full text of Shaikh Mohammad's speech

The full text of the speech delivered by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, at the Mena & Frontiers Conference in Dubai on Monday

Most of you know how keen I am to save time, so I will enter straight into the topic that I believe you are concerned with, which is Dubai's economy.

I will not waste time telling the details of the global financial crisis because you are the experts in this field.

However, I want to share part of my thoughts with you today about the crisis, which affected the world from East to West and formed the most important global economic event that affected the major economies of the world.

The repercussions of the crisis left an economic reality across the world and affected open economies more severely than closed ones, which are less connected and interactive with international markets.

Thus, Dubai had to take the necessary arrangements to cope with the results of the global economic downturn and the shrinking of markets. Dubai's initiatives in this field were not isolated from the UAE's serious and important steps, because, as you know, Dubai is an inseparable part of the UAE federation.

I will not list the initiatives we took to overcome the repercussions of the crisis, since most of you know the steps we took whether at a federal or local level.

I would like to talk to you about the important facts, which I can summarise in one sentence. The global economic crisis, despite its temporary effects, will not deter Dubai from its development ambitions and will not remove it from its leading position. It will not distance it from its active role in the global economic arena and will not weaken the determination of its sons to carry on the development march.

Although I agree with those who say that words are easy and the real test lies in the implementation, I have full confidence in our capability to perform, and the evidence is in the achievements which stand for all to see in Dubai. They prove that my convention is realistic. It did not come from vacuum or derive its presence from hollow hopes.

Led by my brother, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, we in the UAE are carrying on the march started by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and our father, the late Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, since the early 1970s, when they launched the first stage of the federation and started the blessed march.

When my father decided to go ahead with expanding the Dubai Creek and issued orders to construct the Dubai International Airport and the Jebel Ali Port among other major projects, people around him did not hide their scepticism about the economic feasibility of these projects back then.

But, this is Dubai, and those are its sons, who always look at the future with a sharp vision and stable steps. Their method is work and their guidance is their faith in God and the success he bestows upon them, as well as their capability to overcome challenges and conquer new fields that seemed illusionary at first.

Today, we reap what our fathers planted. Our economy is diverse and does not only rely on foreign investments, which we welcome in Dubai. We are proud of a group of companies which are nationally based and globally expanded, and which have a high capability and international reputation, such as Emirates Airlines, DP World, Jumeirah Group and other companies that represent the real shields of Dubai's economic capability.

These achievements are the practical and realistic proof that we are capable of overcoming crises. They are our golden ticket for a new development and growth phase.

We have realised early on the importance of investing in a state-of-the-art, highly reliable infrastructure.

Our strategic choice is to start where others ended, while creating a development model that guarantees us the capability to face challenges in a flexible and effective way that places the human being at the top of its priorities.

Some may think that Dubai could have moved faster in tackling the repercussions of the global economic meltdown. But we decided to take our time, rather than to rush in, because of our keenness to support the capabilities of the main business establishments in Dubai and restructure them in a way that gives them strength and ability to cope with the new economic reality, which stemmed from the crisis. This crisis imposed new equations on major economies and opened promising horizons for new markets such as India and China, as part of a stage during which the roles and importance of these markets will grow.

I am confident that the worst has passed, and the darkest clouds of the crisis have cleared, and that Dubai has now, with the emerging signs of global economic recovery, is in a situation which allows it to invest its underlying strength to start new rounds in the race for distinction.

The entire world was witnessing this race for the past few decades with awe at our ability to achieve and excel.

My confidence in Dubai's ability to overcome the crisis does not come from vacuum. It is based on facts that I would like to share with you, and which some may have overlooked when they issued preset judgment on Dubai and its ability to overcome this situation, which was imposed by international circumstances that did not spare Dubai.

It is a series of factors that came together in Dubai (whether some may like it or not), and made us the best choice for the global investment community, which seeks to set up businesses to conquer the markets of a large area with over a billion residents. These are emerging markets full of opportunities which big markets lack because they are highly saturated.

I would like to highlight some important facts:

The global financial crisis will not remove Dubai from its distinguished geographic location in the heart of the world, which makes it an indispensable link between the East and the West.

The infrastructure and high-performance air and sea networks support our ability to reach the region's markets and achieve active linking with them, for which Dubai is prepared.

Jebel Ali Port is the sixth biggest port in the world and the largest in the Middle East.

Dubai International Airport is also the sixth in the world in terms of the number of travellers. It caters to 125 airlines that fly to over 210 destinations in all six continents.

When the Al Maktoum International Airport is completed, it will occupy the first position among the largest airports of the world, with a yearly capacity of 160 million travellers and 12 million tonnes of cargo. It is also prepared to receive giant aircraft.

With our geographic location, and after completing our logistic infrastructure, we were keen to develop the legislative structure, which enhances one of our four major sectors, namely the financial services sector.

The world admitted the success of Dubai as an integrated financial market among other major markets from New York and London in the west to Hong Kong and Tokyo in the east. Our market is a central link based on important organisational structures, the most significant of which is the Dubai Financial Centre, which earned the respect and appreciation of the international financial community with its world class legal system.

We have succeeded in Dubai to build a friendly business environment that fulfil the needs of investors, through distinguished facilities such as complete income and company tax exemption, and through providing a highly efficient technological structure, property facilities, professional services and service facilities to cater to the needs of investors and their families.

I will not list all the details that enhance our belief that Dubai is capable of shaking off the dust of this passing crisis, but I just wanted to point out that those who believe that Dubai's economy and its development success story was pulled by property development projects are wrong.

No one can deny the property boom in the past few years, but it is unfair to sum up Dubai's experience by these projects, no matter how big they were. Dubai's development success story is much bigger, deeper and strategically diversified than that.

Furthermore, Dubai is not alone. It is an integral part of the UAE federation, which is a strong fortress. The success of Dubai is an extension of Abu Dhabi's success, and vice versa. The same applies to all seven emirates. Together with Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, our federation is an unbeatable force and a fortress that no challenges can dismantle.

This federation is the source of our confidence and strength.

My optimism that the crisis is coming to an end and my faith in Dubai's ability to return to its strong development rates very soon are also based on ideology and human heritage that stem from my Bedouin roots, which I and my people are proud to belong to. Bedouins are wise, tough and unbendable in the face of crises. They only know determination and working hard for their goals.

Those who know me closely trust my words when I say that I am confident the second tranche of the bonds programme launched by Dubai will be highly popular and have high subscription rates. It will be directed towards settling Dubai's obligations over the next few years.

Our development march has been and will remain a race towards excellence. A race to firmly establish Dubai's position as a leading and developed business centre, and to ensure that it deserves the title of the sole financial and trade capital of the Middle East.

Over the past 20 years, Dubai maintained healthy growth rates, and many benefited as a result of this growth, yet the economic downturn gave us a chance to slow down, think and reflect. Perhaps we needed this break to catch our breath and work to renew our competitive abilities before carrying on in the race.

We do not deny that the financial crisis shoved us into a state of silence, leaving behind an information vacuum, in which rumours found a fertile soil to spread.

We must not allow this to happen again, because clarity and open communication are key factors in building mature and civilised nations.

We must also remember that the economic recession is on the way out, just like all other recessions that took place in the past.

Over the past year, I listened carefully to the opinions of many business leaders in Dubai, the UAE, Asia, Europe and the US, and CEOs from sectors such as aviation and hotels, as well as investors and capital holders. I listened to their hopes and aspirations, and I assure them that we will continue to invest in supporting our basic structure in all fields, to serve the domestic interests and secure success for our partners of investors in all sectors.

Our recent Dubai Metro launching celebration stood as evidence to our determination to support Dubai's place on the international map as an international city which has distinction factors at both the short and long terms.

By the way, did you ride the metro? If not, I advise you to do so, since it is the first metro without a driver in the region.

In fact, I would like to see you accompanying us on the next development trip, upon which we embark with sails pushed by winds of determination and optimism.

It is a trip to beat challenges and prove to all that determination and future vision are the real resource for hardworking people in their march towards distinction and success

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