Dubai ruler says Middle East can become the ‘new Europe’

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) talks to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum during the Future Investment Initiative FII conference which was held in Riyadh in October. (File/AFP)
  • Dubai ruler says region's conflicts should act as motivation to modernize
  • UAE stands by Saudi Arabia through 'thick and thin', says Sheikh Mohammed

DUBAI: The Middle East can become the new Europe if its countries adopt modernity and development, Dubai ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has said.

The Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE told newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat he believed the conflicts in the region offered further motivation to adopt modernization and development.

He said he agreed with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s belief that the Middle East could be the new Europe, he said.

“I believe that conflicts offer further motivation to adopt modernization and development,” he explained.

“Can you competently manage a crisis if you do not have the appropriate tools of the age? Can old circumstances, methods and ways of thinking produce anything else than the products that they had yielded before?”

He said that for more than 20 years he has been warning leaders of the severity of the situation and the need for change.

“But some officials were shocked at the thought that problems in their countries could escalate. Indeed, they escalated until they reached a dead end.”

But he said he remained optimistic about the future. Though costly, he said the lessons learned from the Arab Spring (which he referred to as the Arab Fall), “were valuable.”

“I believe that the majority of the leadership in the Arab world have learned these lessons, which are that the winds of reforms, change and modernization are blowing through the majority of our Arab world. They hold a promise of a real spring.”

Asked about relations with Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Mohammed said: “We always stand by Saudi Arabia, through thick and thin.”

“Our bilateral ties are bolstered through the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council. The council set a joint vision for a complimentary strategy between the two countries, on the economic, development and military levels, through 44 joint strategic projects. We look forward to building a complementary model that supports the GCC and joint Arab work.”

He said he also looked “with optimism and hope at the massive development and modernization operation in the Kingdom.”

“Vision 2030 demands our brothers to work around the clock to implement its projects and programs. They are capable of accomplishing it and they know that the goals of the plan are not a choice. They are necessary to confront current and future challenges.

“Saudi Arabia is a young society, more than half the population is under the age of 30. They need job opportunities. Above all, they need modern education and an environment that is open to change and modernity. Moreover, the developments and changes in the global economy demand the diversification of the economy and reducing dependence on natural resources. This is what Vision 2030 is preparing for.”