My Journey with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in “My Story: 50 Memories from 50 Years of Service”

Mohannad Al Masre – Founder & Chairman of Damsco Group

My experience with the book “My Story” is a pleasant one, with its narration of human relations, life, power, and the critical keys to the development of the state and its economy.

Rich in history, the book records the transformation of an ‘empty desert Emirate’ into one of the ‘smartest capitals’ in the world. It was an exciting journey of reading filled with the depth of institutional vision, the burden and responsibilities of a statesman; a man of excellence and a seasoned politician with great economic intellect, who focused on work, planning and innovation, the main pillars of any successful project. This is one of the most inspirational books I have read so far.

The book is an inspiring oasis for generations to come, giving them hope and encouragement to be brave and make bold decisions in all walks of life; “Paving the way to knowledge and life through experience, lifelong learning, insight and reflection.”

I eagerly read the pages of this book, learning about the important historical facts about Dubai, its development, the establishment of the Union, and the pivotal turns in its history of becoming the brilliant global economic power it is today.

The city never ceases to amaze me, the only scientific explanation for the ‘Dubai phenomenon’ is the eloquent mind that built this futuristic city. As a Dubai-based entrepreneur,I am fascinated by the ‘economic intellect’ and insight of the rulers of Dubai, discovering alternative economic resources for the wealthy emirate other than oil.

Regarding the economic challenges that Dubai faced in the early 20th century, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid says in Chapter 8 “185 Years of Searching for Dubai”: “That crisis cut off the lifeblood of the economy, bur Dubai never stopped looking to its future and diversifying its trade. Our economic crisis deepened with World War II, but so did our determination to find alternative sources of trade and revenue.”

A passage caught my attention in which Sheikh Mohammed spoke about the importance of trade for developing Dubai’s economic cycle, stating: “We continued to invest for the future and to focus on what we have always done best: trade in general, and servicing re-export markets in particular.”

Many thinks that the free market system is a recent one adopted during the last few decades in Dubai. However, Sheikh Mohammed indicates: “In 1902, after the Iranian administration in Bandar Lengeh raised taxes for merchants on that side of the Gulf, Sheikh Maktoum abolished all customs duties on imports, opened up Dubai’s port and welcomed all traders. As a result of adopting this free trade policy, goods flowed into and out of the city’s port and in a short period Dubai became the Gulf’s re-export hub. A significant number of major merchants trading in the Gulf area soon moved to Dubai and made it their regional headquarters.”

Sheikh Mohammed also sheds light on the legacy of economic intellect among the old sheikhs who ruled Dubai. In the same chapter, he writes: “My grandfather’s legacy was to ensure economic diversification so that Dubai would never again rely on just one source of income. That principle was something my father, Sheikh Rashid, adopted through the construction of ports, the expansion of Dubai Creek, the development of free zones and the airport, as well as driving the launch of new economic opportunities, such as aluminium smelting.”

“It is a legacy passed down through my family. It is the guarantee that the lessons of our arduous journey over the past 185 years haven’t been taken for granted.” This is one of the most valuable tips for entrepreneurs in this book, to help them develop and expand their investments and deliver successful projects.

Despite focusing on the political aspect and the reinsertion of the government, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid indicates: “No one is born perfect; we all need the mind and souls of others to complete our own. Everyone must continue learning no matter how much he or she achieves. A leader needs the counsel of others to learn more, and to win their support for new plans and projects. Only an ignorant person turns a blind eye to advice.” This quote is taken from the twelfth chapter “Three Lessons from the Dawn of Rashid’s Rule” and it perfectly applies to the world of economics and business. Executives and heads of companies should follow this enlightened thought in management and relationships.

“The creation of leaders is the main enabler of development and further progress.” This is one of many robust insightful quotes about developing human resources and engaging them in serving the nation.

Focusing on competent human resources, especially young ones, and engaging them in both private and government sectors is essential for the development process.As Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid says in his book: “took great care to invest in the ambitious young people who surrounded me throughout the various stages of my career.”

Most entrepreneurs are preoccupied with the idea of appointing the right cadres in the right positions. But executives and department heads are also concerned for creating dedicated teams loyal to the vision of the institute. I quote from the same chapter: “The leader we create are the eyes through which we see, the hands with which we build and the creative energy we add to our own to realise our vision.”

In chapter 36 “Collaboration” Sheikh Mohammed expressed his belief in the importance of investing in the youth and its energy, narrating an interesting story that occurred during a GCC meeting in early 1980s: “I was sad, because, we didn’t handle our wealth effectively, we didn’t trust the ideas of our youth, and didn’t dare to try innovative approaches.” (page 207)

Far from the world of digits and finance, I was captivated by the thinking of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid in Chapter 49: “I do not rely on personal efforts in humanitarian work, but rather on institutional efforts, for they are sustainable and have more powerful and enduring impact.”

I was impressed by the fact that the Sheikh focused on the human character; “When asked why I launched Arab Hope Makers, I said we are searching for the human in every one of us.”
Finally, I advise everyone, regardless of specialty, work or interests to read the book “My Story: 50 Stories in 50 Years” by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, as it is a book of great wisdom and invaluable insight.

Also on Mohannad Al Masre Blog

Simon Sinek’s Most Important Question: Why?

Mohannad Al Masre – Chairman of Damsco Group
The most important and vital question in the progress of natural, human and social sciences is: “Why?” It is the key to all inventions, discoveries, and developments achieved by the human mind throughout history.

Simon Sinek conveys the importance of this golden question genuinely in his book “Start With Why” where he explains its importance for the prosperity of the professional journey of institutions and individuals, and “teaches the leaders and the institutions how to inspire others.”

In his famous book, he also touches the critical topic of the relationship between employees and their companies based on his brilliant theory “The Golden Circle.”

About this Golden Circle Sinek says: “The Golden Circle finds order and predictability in human behavior. Put simply, it helps us understand why we do what we do. The Golden Circle provides compelling evidence of how much more we can achieve if we remind ourselves to start everything we do by first asking why.”

I was particularly interested in Simon Sinek’s interpretation of the factors that connect the employees of a company with its leaders, and the non-chaotic organizational structure of the relationship between them, for he declares: “What all great leaders have in common is the ability to find good fits to join their organizations—those who believe what they believe.”

In another paragraph, he speaks about the influence and important responsibility of a company’s leader; I quote: “If the leader of the organization can’t clearly articulate WHY the organization exists in terms beyond its products or services, then how does he expect the employees to know WHY to come to work?”

I would like to conclude my presentation of this practical and entertaining book with a quote from its preface by Sinek: “This is a book for those who want to inspire others and for those who want to find someone to inspire them.”

The mentioned quotes are taken from the e-book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, Capstone; 1 edition (August 30, 2010).

The Legendary Book of Napoleon Hill

Mohannad Al Masre – Chairman of Damsco Group
I advise the enthusiastic and ambitious youth entrepreneurs to read the book “Think and Grow Rich” by the American author Napoleon Hill.

The book offers more than a way of getting rich or increasing one’s wealth. Napoleon Hill gives valuable tips and pieces of advice for those who pursue prosperity and success, presenting real-life stories of people who fulfilled their call and achieved their goals, sometimes, after patiently enduring a lengthy struggle.

Without expressing further opinions about this wonderful book, I quote the following passages from the book for the readers to meditate on:

“He had nothing to start with, except the capacity to know what he wanted, and the determination to stand by that desire until he realized it.”
●“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake at one time or another.”
●“Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure.”
●“More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known, told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.”
●“Knowledge will not attract money, unless it is organized, and intelligently directed, through practical plans of action, to the definite end of accumulation of money.”

The mentioned quotes are taken from the e-book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, Capstone; 1 edition (August 30, 2010).

“The Art of War”; The Warfare of a Successful Businessman

Mohannad Fayez Al Masre – Chairman of Damsco Group

“The Art of War” is not merely a book to display on your library shelf or decorate one’s desk… In addition to being an interesting source for politicians and military leaders, it can be an excellent reference for investors and entrepreneurs as well.

According to the preface of the Arabic publication of the book, some of the largest global companies rely on it as a reference, for the wise reflections and pieces of advice given by “Sun Tzu” more than two thousand years ago, which are still taught and effective in all areas of life (social, economic, political, commercial, sports, etc.). Despite being centuries old Chinese scroll, “The Art of War” continues to be translated and published in different languages throughout the world.

This book contains many “Golden Keys”, which guarantee success and prosperity to those who apply them in their institutions and relationships. My best advice to young entrepreneurs who seek to be eminent in their field are based on quotes from this book:

  • Do not reuse a previous tactic that brought you victory, create a new one or alter it unexpectedly.
  • Understand your work: Diligently seek to learn about events and news related to your work, speak to those who have attended conferences, or those who acquire experience and knowledge you lack. Do not look back.
  • Whatever applies to war, applies to daily life as well.
  • Take clear and right decisions: When you realize that your decision was wrong, dare to change it soon, before it is too late.
  • Be an example to others: Your subordinates consider your conduct a pattern to follow. Your acts and moral ethics have greater effect than instructions and orders you give.
  • When you are desperate, you must fight.

Sun Tzu – Art of War, Dar AlkitabAlarabe Publishing – Damascus 2010

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