“I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly” – John 10:10
When I checked in at the Air Jamaica counter in Barbados heading for New York, a week ago last Saturday, I was blessed to be upgraded to Executive Business Class, the airline’s recently rebranded product. The check-in service was excellent and the in-flight service was special. On board, the passengers were greeted with a welcome by a member of the cabin crew on behalf of Jamaica’s national carrier and the designated carrier of Barbados.
After a restful and uneventful flight, I was warmly welcomed by son Bevan in New York. The contrast in temperature between Barbados and New York was significant but there was a freshness in the midnight air. After discharging some spiritual, domestic and family responsibilities on Sunday, Bevan and I embarked on an Emirates Airlines flight, early on Monday morning heading for Dubai. The air travel was facilitated by his brother Kevin – an Emirates Airlines pilot. The purpose of the visit was family first, “a grandchildren visit”, on which occasion Kevin & his wife, Nadia, and household hosted us superbly in Dubai; then business second, where ideas were generated for the conversion into business reality back home.
Emirates Airlines business class was full so we had to settle for economy class but one might well ask, what is the difference? Emirates lived up totally to all expectations. We had four seats between the two of us which alleviated the leg room challenge in economy class, and the in flight service, meals and in flight entertainment were excellent and in abundance. The international flight crew provided service with a smile; the quality and frequency of the meals, and the menu, left nothing to be desired; the personalised entertainment system offered live TV news updates; a large choice of films; endless documentaries on sport, including cricket. The in-flight magazine’s cover photo was the Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting and inside there was full coverage of CWC 2007. We were seamlessly heading for the Middle East.
Dubai was described to me by a colleague as an air conditioned desert. Desert yes, but at this time of the year the temperature is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, one could not ask for more. In July, however, I understand that it will be a different story, over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is when the need for air conditioning kicks in. Most buildings, including houses are air conditioned. Dubai is a remarkable city-state where oil wealth has been converted into developmental assets. Already the oil contribution to GDP has been reduced to less than 20%.
There is a multiplicity of projects under high rise construction, too numerous to mention in detail. Suffice it to say that Dubai is home to 25% of the world’s cranes. There are Heritage, Hotel Apartments, Hotels, Commercial and Executive Office sites. There is Sports City, Dubailand, Internet City, Media City, Knowledge Village, Festival City, Palm Island and airport expansion. It is interesting to note that there is high level consultation on a continual basis between the planners in Dubai and Singapore.
We visited with the Manager of Corporate Communications at the headquarters of the International Cricket Council in Media City. One nostalgic moment was to see an oil painting of Barbadian Sir Clyde Walcott, former President of the ICC, in the Conference Room on the 11th floor of the Al Thuraya Tower overlooking Palm Island, which is a reclaimed land development spectacle in the shape of a palm tree in the Arabian Gulf. How can we benefit from all this, in particular, how can we use the Dubai experience to leverage the legacy of CWC 2007?
CWC 2007 has already begun to expose Barbados, hosts of the World Cup final, and the Caribbean to global audiences. Classically, marketing is everything that you do to reach and persuade prospects to come to our shores. By the time CWC 2007 is over, our marketing would have been sufficiently advanced in the context of global media exposure. The sales process is everything that you do to close the sale and get a signed agreement or contract. However it’s not uncommon for there to be an imbalance when it comes to these two ingredients of business success. Is our sales machinery well oiled and ready to go?
Chairman of the newly formed InvestBarbados entity, Peter Boos, revealed that starting from last week, they would be looking to develop Barbados’ value proposition by trying to generate business with new partners including the Middle East.
My experience this last week would suggest that we should recognise the power in the Emirates Airlines Dubai hub, its aggressive growth mode and its network of destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, India, Pakistan, Africa, South East Asia, Australasia and the Far East. Barbados needs to become a spoke to that hub, approximately 11 hours flying time, similar to the NY spoke.
To quote once again from that powerful little book Happiness is – a way of mind, a way of life, “Get rid of that little voice that tells us we are never quite good enough. When this happens, we will receive God’s abundance and we will be happy”.
Now, let us be bold, imaginative and visionary in leveraging the legacy of the CWC 2007 opportunity.