Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is one of the few Arab leaders who calls a spade a spade. He puts forward ideas that are relevant, not only to the present but to the future. Addressing a panel of the World Government Summit held in Dubai, he said that the Arab world possesses great potential including human resources, education, fertile lands and willpower.
The only thing missing is management: the management of governments, economy, resources, infrastructure and even sports. We are 300 million strong, almost equal to the population of the USA, but look how many medals they win in the Olympic Games. We have failures in certain areas that need to be addressed. He could not be more right.
The Arab world despite its “brimming coffers lacks one thing which money cannot buy – leadership.” This was a line in an editorial in the London Telegraph after the June 1967 War.
And here today leadership would apply to management, which Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid referred to as the missing link. And leaders, innovators and pioneers can only be nurtured in societies that are free and where critical thinking is encouraged from childhood. And this is what we should all strive for, and what should be the prime goal of those in power.
Security and stability come only when there is a flourishing economy and where the free flow of ideas and thoughts are encouraged. Societal development occurs when people’s ideas and opinions are not strapped and harnessed.
Communities grow, develop and perform when people are made to realize that they are stakeholders in society and when the decision-making process encompasses their ideas and thoughts. It is critical that diversity be the pillar of society that will then enhance its growth.
Arab governments should realize that no matter what their power or size, they cannot hold on to power without the will and aspiration of the youth. Hence, their attention should be focused on the young.
Gone are the days of totalitarianism and one-man rule, as social media is the equalizer and this tool should be utilized to spread goodness rather than become a vehicle for extremism.
Around me, I see young men and women, second to none. They want to participate in nation building. They are not less than their counterparts in the West and the East. All that they need is an opportunity. It’s time to give them that.
— Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena