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Aysha Taryam: Mohammed Bin Rashid is the difference
February 19, 2017
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The UAE’s highly anticipated World Government Summit wrapped up its fifth edition last week and as most of us are winding down after four days of continuous talks by highly acclaimed speakers and transparent Q&A’s we can finally look back at what stood out the most during this summit.
On the first day, the world was poised for Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai’s appearance on stage where he was set to answer questions sent to him from around the world. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid’s openness and transparency with the media and public in general is one that stands out, particularly in this region and therefore the two-hour session brought forth questions from the public, from different parts of the world, spanning all major topics affecting the region.

Many questions revolved around his idea of governance and his view in creating one that is fluid and efficient. Sheikh Mohammed was asked about government corruption as he is famous for diligently fighting it within his own country and how other countries could emulate his process. His answer was simple: he has an obligation to put the good of the people first.
On extremism Sheikh Mohammed spoke of Islam as it should be, one that is peaceful, one that created an Islamic nation which encouraged thinking and embraced science, one that gave the world so much of what it knows today. A tolerant Islam is what we know he said, this thing they are fighting for is not Islam, we don’t know what it is. Sheikh Mohammed’s government addressed this with the creation of a Minister of Tolerance to combat segregator attitudes and passed a law protecting people in the UAE from any form of hate speech. One could say that the UAE has zero tolerance for intolerance.

 On the revolutions that the Arab Spring brought forth Sheikh Mohammed explained that ignoring a nation’s youth is a dire mistake, that a true leader should engage them and address their needs for they are the future and if a leader neglects to do so the outcome is sure to be a dire one. Sheikh Mohammed spoke briefly on the topic and one might argue that such answers are expected but what makes his responses imperative is the force they carry with them. For every answer he provided there exists a true movement behind it therefore when Sheikh Mohammed says a leader should not ignore a country’s true wealth, its youth, one must know that in an unprecedented move his government appointed a Minister of Youth.
The efforts that this ministry has exerted in engaging Emirati youth across the country, and even those studying abroad, have made it the largest ministry in the UAE. Leading from the front is what Sheikh Mohammed has taught the world about his governance and that is exactly why his talk is of great importance. He has put his vision into action and has experimented with forms of governance that not only the Arab region but governments worldwide have not been brave enough to undertake. It might be too early to gauge the outcomes of such innovative governmental placements but they are surely ones that will be studied in the near future.

Sheikh Mohammed’s outlook on gender balance is a continuation of our forefathers’ vision where women, since the inception of this nation, have been viewed as an equal part of society and an integral part of its future. To the question on the importance of women’s role in the UAE he highlighted the large female presence in his government and promised that soon 50% of ministers will be female. He explained that one could not walk properly on one leg or perform well with one arm so why do people think that the world could function efficiently with only half its population, without the contribution of women.

As part of the media fraternity we have the privilege of meeting Sheikh Mohammed often for his doors are always open to this sector which feels great resentment in other countries of the region. We have always heard Sheikh Mohammed speak casually and candidly but what strikes me the most every time I am in his presence are not the qualities that one usually attributes to a leader of Sheikh Mohammed’s calibre, it is in fact his free spirit and ever-positive outlook on the world that catches this writer off-guard time and time again.
We go about our days carrying the weight of the mundane on our shoulders and heaving from exhaustion yet this man who sits atop a region that is festering with wars and continuous threats is able to brush it all off and keep his eyes focused on the good of the world and his aim centred on the betterment of it. He was asked how it seems that he has 48 hours in a day while the rest of us struggle to fit our lives in 24 hours, to that he laughingly said that if that were true he would have built two nations and four Dubais. But on a serious note he spoke of the fleetingness of time, making it a human being’s most valuable commodity.
His request to those listening was to start every day knowing that each minute lost is one that they will never get back and use that thought to drive them forward. This is what resonates most with this writer about our beloved Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, he is a force of positive energy that the world is in dire need of. Therefore, when people ponder about what it is that makes the government of the United Arab Emirates different one can safely reach the conclusion that, Mohammed Bin Rashid is the difference.
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