“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” – Proverbs 29:18
No matter whether a country is small or large, whether it is developed or emerging, whether it is resource rich or resource poor, there will always be a challenge to determine the best policy for economic development at any given time. There will be obvious traditional areas of competitive advantage and there will be creative areas of opportunity but whatever the status an innovative policy approach, a sharp vision and an eye for partnership will all stand us in good stead.
My son Kevin, who resides in Dubai with his family, sent me an email last week with lots of photographs updating me on the progress of this fastest growing city in the world. The driving force is clearly the vision of its leaders. The fact that it is an oil rich country does not hurt in terms of converting this Vision into Action. At a regional seminar in St Lucia last week, a participant reminded me of a verse which I espoused on this subject in 1993. “Vision without Action is mere fantasy; Action without Vision is folly; Neither Vision nor Action reeks of irresponsibility; Vision and Action induce Synergy”.
Here is a synopsis of the development in Dubai: (1) Dubai has converted its desert systematically since 1990 into a hub of economic activity. (2) Dubai is said to currently have 15 to 25% of the world’s cranes. (3) The Dubai waterfront, when completed, will become the largest waterfront in the world. (4) The Palm islands were created using new Dutch dredging technology. Upon completion, the resort will have 2,000 villas, 40 luxury hotels, shopping centres, movie theatres and many other facilities. The islands are advertised as being visible from the moon. (5) There is another creation which consists of 300 artificially created islands, in the shape of the world. Each island will have an estimated cost of 25 to 30 million US dollars.
(6) The Burj al-Arab Hotel, the world’s tallest hotel, is considered the only 7 star hotel and the most luxurious hotel in the world. It stands on an artificial island. (7) Hydropolis, the world’s first underwater hotel was built in Germany and assembled in Dubai. (8) The Burj Dubai is at an estimated height of over 800 metres it will easily be the world’s tallest building when completed. It will be almost 40% taller than the current tallest building the Taipei 101 in Taiwan. (9) The Al Burj which will be the centrepiece of the Dubai waterfront, once completed, will take over the title of the tallest structure in the world from the Burj Dubai. It will be three times as tall as the Empire State building. (10) The Burj al Alam or the World Tower, upon completion in 2009, will rank as the world’s highest hotel.
(11) The Trump International Hotel and tower which will be the centrepiece of one of the main Palm islands, the Palm Jumeirah, is most impressive, with its arched twin tower construction. (12) Walt Disney World in Orlando is currently the largest amusement park collection in the world. Dubai Land will be twice that size. (13) Dubai Sports City is a huge collection of sports arenas located in Dubailand. (14) The Dubai Marina is an entirely man made development that will contain over 200 high rise buildings when finished. (15) The Dubai Mall will be the largest shopping mall in the world with over 9 million square feet of shopping and around 1,000 stores. It will be completed in 2008.
(16) Ski Dubai, which is already open, is the largest indoor skiing facility in the world. (17) Some of the tallest buildings in the world, such as Ocean Heights and The Princess Tower, which will be the largest residential building in the world at over a 100 stories, will line the Dubai Marina. (18) The Dubai Metro system, once completed, will become the largest fully automated rail system in the world. (19) The Dubai World Central International Airport will become the largest airport in size when it is completed. It will also eventually become the busiest airport in the world, based on passenger volume. (20) There are more imported construction workers in Dubai than there are actual citizens.
I expect the initial questions to include: “Do we want to be like Dubai?” and “Whence the source of the money?” My responses are: if we want to become a first world country, let us decide on the economic policy profile that is going to take us there and sustain us at that level. This is where the Vision is important. Then we must Act to assemble the resources and implement. Please do not say that we do not have any money – we waste plenty of it on a daily basis. Let us develop partnerships with those who have money and storm ahead with alacrity to the mutual benefit of the parties involved. A visit to Dubai, to be within the energy field of excitement, may even yield surprising benefits to the Visioning process and may be a breeding ground for partnerships which will help to induce Action.