HH Sheikh Mohammed's Incredibly Honest And Open Speech Touched On Trump, Conspiracy Theories And Corruption
The open question and answer session revealed a lot
The World Government Summit took place in Dubai this week. The annual summit sees political leaders, prominent figures from the public and private sectors along with international thought leaders and pioneers come together for a future focused conversation.
During the week, HH Sheikh Mohammed, Ruler of Dubai and Vice-President of the UAE spent an hour speaking and answering questions. He was invited to share his thoughts on the future of Arab civilization but covered topics ranging from conspiracy theories and corruption to international relations, Arab women and their current situation and maintaining a balanced life.
This was a rare, defining moment whereby a leader made an honest, open and unscripted speech. Other world leaders could take note, open dialogues with their public and follow this excellent example.
Questions were selected as thought to be the most important questions relating to the region
On hope for the future of the Arab world
“This region is the birthplace of major human civilizations. There should be hope. If I didn’t have hope, I wouldn’t be wasting my time and the time of all those involved in this. I believe in the human spirit. Humans are the ones who made civilizations so they should also be able to revive them.'
When asked about his most important accomplishment he modestly described certain contributions of humans as the accomplishments that he and HH Mohammed bin Zayed are most proud of
When questioned on the UAE-US relations under Trump's presidency
"We shared our thoughts with the new President and we seek to safeguard the interests of our country. Some say that previous governments made mistakes. Yes, they did make mistakes, like invading Iraq and supporting Arab uprisings. How much did the US lose in the Iraq war and how much did Iraq lose during the invasions? This had a very negative impact on Iraq, and instead of Iraq becoming a positive example for the Arab world, as they claimed it would have before the invasion, Iraq is now a very bad example."
On securing a balance between economic openness and security
On the 'hasty' decision to remove government employees from their positions
(After a famous video of HH Sheikh Mohammed visiting empty workspaces was released, Sheikh Mohammed took the decision to offer the absent employees retirement)
“Some say that I rushed the decision. I want to tell you that I am held responsible in front of Allah and my people. We don’t accept the neglect of duty in serving our people. Senior executives in the Municipality did great things in the past. Personally, I used to follow up on their performance through a secret shopper. In the last one-and-a-half years we gave them a task and project, but we found that they have reached a stage where they were not performing, and they were thinking they were irreplaceable and nobody could touch them. We needed fresh blood. So we sent them into retirement and thanked them for their services.”
When questioned on whether he believes in conspiracy theories...
"Yes, I believe in some conspiracy theories. I think countries do spy on each other for their own benefit, even as part of their planning. They may even try to sabotage your plans for the benefit of their nation’s. These conspiracies exist and will remain. Even during the US elections there was talk about conspiracies, but if a country says we are victims of a conspiracy and then stops working, this is a mistake.
Here in the UAE we have faced conspiracies, media campaigns, economic wars. But we never stopped, it only made us more determined.”
Sheikh Mohammed was asked about the possibility of a city like Dubai being built in Libya
"We could not say no to an Arab country that approached us, so we sent a delegation and they inspected the site and they suggested a project to Al Gaddafi. It included shopping malls, a financial hub, schools. But when the team started it's work, conflicts started arising within Al Gaddafi’s team. They wanted to benefit from the project, as they wanted to please all parties, so we asked the team to come back. If the project was implemented it would have benefited Libya and Africa and things in Libya could have been different. Corruption harms everything, for example, if the actual cost of a project is 100 million, they say it costs 1000 million and the official gets 900 million.”
"Corruption is everywhere...and we have zero tolerance here"
On living a balanced life
"Time passes and we need to work hard to benefit from it"
"Success is 50% and 50% the failure of your opponent."
Sheikh Mohammed aims to increase the percentage of women working in UAE cabinet in the near future
“I read that women represent 17 per cent of the workforce in the Arab world, and yet 75 per cent of graduates in the UAE are women. Women comprise almost one third of the UAE cabinet…. Women account for half of society. We need men and women to work together. In the future, 50 per cent of the UAE cabinet will be made up of women”