Emiratis have no need to fear the future
Like most of my compatriots born in the days when clean water was a luxury, it was hard work and optimism that fueled my success. In those days of hardship, we did not sit around grumbling about our lot. We trusted in our nation’s fathers, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, who pushed us to believe in our capabilities. And, with the help of God, together we forged an amazing country, the envy of the world, against all odds.
Yes, to this day I remain an optimist. I count my blessings daily, but the University of Life has also taught me to be a realist. Yes, there is a bad actor on our doorstep attempting to bite our heels like an annoying mosquito, but I have no doubt that, if that creature persists with its disruptive activities, it will either withdraw or be swatted. It will not be given the opportunity to do its worst.
The international community will not permit a rogue nation to shatter the global economy. The Iranian regime is flexing its muscle, yet the consensus is that the mullahs are not suicidal. They will not cross red lines that will result in obliteration. Moreover, despite US President Donald Trump’s fiery rhetoric, he does not want to trigger yet another Middle East war.
My message is simple: The past is a good indicator of the future and there is no need to panic due to regional geopolitics. The 1980s tanker war, whereby Iran targeted shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, elicited a US naval intervention in 1987 to protect vessels in the narrow waterway, through which about 30 percent of the world’s oil is shipped. The situation was far worse in those days and I can assure you that what is happening now is a transient situation that is having a minimal impact on the economies of the UAE and other Gulf states.
I would urge my fellow Emiratis to strengthen their hearts. Do not believe the doom and gloom pundits in the foreign media. Remember how Western commentators laughably predicted Dubai would collapse under the desert sands during the 2007/2008 global economic downturn. Although, like the rest of the planet, Dubai struggled for a while, the emirate swiftly emerged like a phoenix, surpassing most other nations, which were forced to impose austerity measures for years. We took the opposite route with mega-investments in infrastructure.
Our country can be compared to a peaceful tropical island in a sea of sharks.
Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor
The UAE economy is on a solid foundation of safety, security and stability. Our country can be compared to a peaceful tropical island in a sea of sharks. Our region has suffered from geopolitical turbulences throughout living memory, but the UAE has not only survived but thrived.
Now for the good news. Since the beginning of this year, the economy of Dubai and the UAE as a whole has improved by leaps and bounds. My own group of companies has benefited from a boost in all sectors, specifically real estate, vehicle sales and rentals, insurance, and schools, in spite of what is happening in the region. I can also affirm based on first-hand experience that advance hotel reservations are way up. Furthermore, we are seeing major growth in the retail sector. This goes to show that investor confidence remains high.
I am certainly not alone in my assessment. The French corporate and investment bank Natixis has issued a quarterly report that says UAE gross domestic product (GDP) growth rose to 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019, as opposed to 1.9 percent in the last quarter of 2018. The bank says the country’s economic prospects are “well oriented” despite political tensions.
Logistics Middle East has hailed the UAE’s economic growth as the most promising in the region, while quoting KPMG’s 2019 “Growth Promise Indicators” report, which places the emirates ahead of all other regional countries “for macroeconomic stability, openness, quality of institutions, infrastructure and human development.”
Next year, the economy is poised to boom thanks to Expo 2020, which is expected to add more than 122.6 billion dirhams ($33.3 billion) to the economy and, according to a report commissioned by the Dubai government, will generate business on par with 1.5 percent of the nation’s GDP. The three-day World Government Summit at Expo 2020 is set to be the biggest ever, with more than 10,600 high-ranking officials and experts from 190 countries expected to attend. Expo 2020 will showcase the UAE’s achievements and innovations that are guaranteed to stun the world.
We Emiratis are among the most privileged on the planet in every respect. We are a people who hold our heads high thanks to the courage and fortitude shown by Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid — two remarkable men who did not have the word “failure” in their vocabulary. Their sons have the same “nothing is impossible” mentality. They have no time for self-doubt; they are too busy forging ahead with new projects. Let us take a leaf out of their book. Let us walk with confidence into tomorrow, regardless of the mischief-maker’s doings. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said — a truism that applies just as much today as it did back then.
- Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is renowned for his views on international political affairs, his philanthropic activity, and his efforts to promote peace. He has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad. Twitter: @KhalafAlHabtoor