Like most of my compatriots born in the days when clean water was a luxury it was hard work and optimism that fuelled my success and that of most of my childhood friends.
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 squatted. 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 fl exing 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 through the Straits of Hormuz, elicited a US naval intervention in 1987 to protect vessels passing through the narrow waterway through which 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 with a minimal impact on the economies of the United Arab Emirates 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 forced to impose austerity measures for years. We took the opposite route with mega investments in infrastructure.
The Emirates’ 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’s happening in the region. I can also affirm based on first-hand experience that advanced 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 its quarterly report that says the UAE’s 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 predicts 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 that 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 expected to add more than AED 122.6 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 scheduled for Nov 22 is set to be the biggest ever with over 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 without the word ‘failure’ in their vocabulary; their sons are cut from the same ‘nothing is impossible’ mettle. 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,” famously said Franklin D. Roosevelt, a truism that applies just as much today as it did back then.
By Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor UAE Businessman