The United Arab Emirates is one nation that in the last 2 decades has made good progress in terms development, technology, creating an environment that foreigners desire to experience and more. It used to be regarded as a desert land with little or no resources but this, however, has not limited their growth, neither has it made them backwards or a chaotic society. The architecture skyline is breath-taking; it speaks to you how much they have dared to make history by erecting buildings that set new records in height, luxury, design aesthetics and more.
Nothing works on its own, people make things work; yet even though people work it, there is a strategy for achieving them. In this piece, I will share with you and for the benefit of other developing nations, how this nation (United Arab Emirates) in the Gulf was able to transcend into a first world-class nation.
Leadership: I know you are not surprised to hear that; it is always about the leadership and let me add that the style of a leader is what makes all the difference. Yes, there are leadership laws and postulations, volumes have been written about good, transformational leadership but none can be compared to the subjective, on-hand leadership experience that people in power wield. For the UAE, you can say that they had visionary leaders. Leaders who knew and understood what they wanted, can articulate it, communicate it and follow through with it till it happens. Their leaders were such that they want to be kept in the loop of every developmental project; not awarding contracts and hoping that they contractors or engineers will achieve what you the want. They ensure close monitoring while giving you the free hand to do your job. A leader needs to be dynamic in performance, it gives quick direction and energy to those he is leading.
Foreign Partnership: This is one major and viable strategy that smart nations employ to develop. For a country that is limited in resources, a partnership or joint venture can help them bring in experts from other countries and this will usher in many benefits like transfer of skill and technology, saves the time of carrying out researches done in the past, give them self-sufficiency, equip citizens and more. It is not weakness or any form of imperial powers to partner with countries that have gone ahead; rather it is one of the mutual benefits for both countries. Even though these partnerships are with foreign companies, they citizens of their country are appointed to head any corporate partnership for the purpose of following through with the vision of their leaders.
Flexibility: The worst thing that can happen to any nation or organisation is for them to have people who are single-minded, rigid and unaccommodating of dissenting views to lead them. That’s an easy path to failure especially if the leaders are wrong (but think they are right) yet refuse to listen to advice. Yes, despite the big visions of the Sheikh and leader of any of the emirates in the United Arab Emirates, they still make room for people to contribute making the vision more achievable and rewarding. When you are flexible as a leader, you make your team or subjects to be part of the decision-making process, giving them a say and a voice. Their corporation will never be deterred by this privilege of elevating them to your position once in a while.
Government Presence and Control: Leadership will be taken for granted if they show a lack of interest in the implementation of visions and ideas. You don’t bring in foreigners to your country and assume that they will do their work based on acceptable standards without checking yourself. The leaders of the UAE expect up to date reports and personal supervision for projects they set out to do. The government is active, involved in the development of technologies even though some nations leave this to their private sector. What then is the role of professionals in the public sector if everything becomes privatised? Of what use is their training and how do they expect to regulate and enforce regulations without practice? These are questions a nation like Nigeria needs to answer sincerely without sentiments or prejudice. For our government to be the highest employers of labour yet they are underemployed with large private presence is a huge anomaly.
Institutional Transparency: This, makes a lot of difference between countries that are working optimally and those struggling to have a bearing for nationhood. It creates confidence in the systems and processes involved. The United Arab Emirates, are also doing this by employing digital technology, especially in e-governance.
As much as these processes might be generic, each country, however, should create ways to make theirs work for them and their peculiar society. No governmental system is the same with those of other nations, each one adopts what works for her. And it is important that there is always room for imitating others and also the re-creation of processes periodically.