Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why Sheikh Mohammed Visited Fujairah this Week

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, made quite a splash when he visited Fujairah on Wednesday of this week.

The excitement was palpable at the news of his visit. Cleaners, gardeners and teachers worked overtime to ready themselves for his arrival.

Why did he come and why does he spend his valuable time visiting the remote and little known emirate of Fujairah?

1. Fujairah is His Patch
His Highness is not only the Ruler of Dubai, he also serves as Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE. Fujairah is part of the overall territory for which Sheikh Mohammed has some responsibility.

In a recent interview in Kentucky, Sheikh Mohammed sought to convey to international viewers that the UAE is more than Dubai. He said:

“When I talk about Dubai I talk about the whole UAE. The whole UAE is the country.”

When the Dubai Ruler visits Fujairah he is giving substance to this conviction and declaring that Fujairah is an integral part of the United Arab Emirates.

2. Transacting Business
Some aspects of Fujairah life are the responsibility of the federal government of the UAE, under the authority of the Supreme Council.

One purpose of Sheikh Mohammed’s visit was to inspect the growth of the Higher Colleges of Technology, to see first-hand the development of the two Fujairah colleges and to consider the proposal for an extension to the Women’s College. This decision is a work in progress but the favourable inspection by the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister must be a significant step in this process.

3. Encouraging those Doing Valuable Work
The visit of His Highness to the Centre for Rehabilitation of People with Special Needs of the Ministry of Social Affairs in Fujairah was consistent with the example of other UAE Rulers in highlighting the value to society of those who are especially challenged.

Sheikh Mohammed met one of the Emirati teachers at the Centre, Salma Al Ka’abi, who had not allowed blindness to prevent her from gaining a degree and being trained to teach children with special needs.

His Highness recently told an American journalist, in relation to the global recession, “Life would be boring if there was no challenge.” He saw Salma this week as a person who had encountered many challenges and had overcome them to achieve her ambitions.

Sheikh Mohammed called Salma an “example for every young Emirati citizen” and addressed her in these personal words:

“Salma, you are an example not only for blind girls, but for all young people in the UAE in their ambition and their will and determination to succeed. I admire your spirit and your power. This is the spirit we want in all the youth in our country.”

4. Learning from the Children
Sheikh Mohammed went to the classrooms of the Centre for Rehabilitation of People with Special Needs and observed the children demonstrating their skills.

Many of the photos of His Highness in his photo albums show him with children—not just his own but the many youngsters that he meets around the UAE.

He once made the counter-cultural statement, “I learn from the youngest and [I] am still at the beginning of the road with no arrogance.”

The special needs children in Fujairah last Wednesday would have heartened the Sheikh in terms of their development and their humility to learn.

5. Monitoring the Investment in Education
From the videos and the reports of the teachers, His Highness saw a wide spectrum of the educational life of the Fujairah Colleges, including the new engineering educational initiatives.

A consistent study of his speeches and decisions illustrate the Sheikh’s commitment to education and his desire to restore Arabs to the historic position of international prominence that they once held.

Since becoming a leader of the Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed has invested in infrastructure, business, property and tourism but he has talked about his most critical focus:

“Investment in education means investment in the lasting peace and security, which our people undoubtedly deserve.”

6. Making His People Happy
His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed, has become known as the visiting Sheikh. The popular 60 Minutes Video depicts him as an approachable person, often rolling up in his Mercedes 4WD at one of his projects without scores of bodyguards.

He likes to meet people where they live and work. He delights in arriving at remote places unannounced so as not to create anxiety with days of preparation and as a way of showing his genuine concern for ordinary people.

His Highness expressed his conviction that:

“The first responsibility of a leader is to make his people happy and then to provide them with the required security, stability, comfort, progress and development.”

Judging by the smiles on the faces of the children at the Centre for the Rehabilitation of People with Special Needs, the warmth of the handshakes and the cameras clicking at the HCT Colleges, it was obvious that Sheikh Mohammed made many Fujairah people happy this week.

7. Catching Up With His Family
The Maktoum and Al Sharqi families are closely connected. His Highness, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, the Ruler of Fujairah, is married to Sheikha Fatima bint Thani Al Maktoum.

Furthermore, Sheikh Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Fujairah, is married to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s daughter—see this video that captures the gathering of the clans at this important event in 2009. The Dubai Ruler now has a grandson in Fujairah, thus giving him a further reason to visit.

The Crown Prince of Fujairah accompanied his father-in-law on Wednesday’s visit to the north-eastern emirate so this would have been a good opportunity to re-warm family ties.

8. Enjoying the Beauty of Fujairah
From his statements and the photos of Sheikh Mohammed it is evident that he has a soft spot for Fujairah. A photo on his web site shows him with other UAE leaders swimming in the Fujairah waters in a break between meetings held in this emirate.

Sheikh Mohammed travelled in a helicopter to Fujairah this week, not only to save travel time but to allow him and his team to enjoy the sensational mountain views. Pity about the hazy skies last Wednesday but the helicopter hovered over the Fujairah coastline before coming in to land.

9. Mentoring His Successor
Sheikh Mohammed’s son, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, accompanied his father to Fujairah this week. From photos and videos it is obvious that he was curious to learn from people and to encourage those that he met.

Sheikh Hamdan doesn’t just ‘come for the ride’. He serves in significant ways in his own right but he is also undergoing an intentional mentoring period knowing that one day he is likely to be Ruler of Dubai, most probably with UAE-wide responsibilities.

When asked what it had been like to watch the recession affecting Dubai and what he had learned, Sheikh Hamdan replied:

“I think it’s a great opportunity to sit with my father and see the decisions that he takes in this difficult time. It helps me a lot for the future and I think it is important for me.”

His father confirmed the closeness of their relationship:

“We work together…and he knew what I was going to do because he’s the Crown Prince. He has to be hands-on.”

10. Fujairah Matters
One of the many endearing qualities that Sheikh Mohammed possesses and for which he has been recognized, is his down-to-earth personality and the way he does not let titles (including his own) get between him and people.

Many times he has affirmed this conviction, “It does not matter what your title is, it’s about what you do.”

This statement relates not only to the way Sheikh Mohammed sees people but the way he views regions and countries.

No matter how Fujairah is perceived by its citizens and by others, the main message that His Highness conveyed this week is that Fujairah is a significant place. Fujairah matters.

More on the Fujairah Visit
Mohammed bin Rashid Tours Fujairah, WAM, 7 October 2010.
Mohammed Tours Fujairah, Meets Citizens, Photos, Emirates 24/7, 7 October 2010.
Mohammed Takes Stock of Educational Programmes, Gulf News, 7 October 2010.
Mohammed Tours Fujairah, HH Sheikh Mohammed’s Web Site, 6 October 2010.
Mohammed bin Rashid Tours Fujairah, UAE Interact, 7 October 2010.
Shaikh Mohammed Orders Plan to Create Jobs for Graduates, Khaleej Times, 7 October 2010.
10 Min. Video, Arabic Commentary, HH Sheikh Mohammed’s Web Site, 6 October 2010.
4 Min. Video, Music Background, HH Sheikh Mohammed’s Web Site, 6 October 2010.

Sheikh Mohammed Says the Whole UAE is Back, FIF, 27 September 2010.
Sheikh Mohammed on the United Arab Emirates, FIF, 31 August 2010.
Sheikh Mohammed Called ‘Sheikh Mo Mentum’ at the US Horse Racing Sales, ETE.
More on Mohammed the Facebooking Twittering Sheikh of Dubai, UAE, ETE.
Make Sure to Connect with Sheikh Mohammed’s Correct Facebook Page, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Gets Public Page on Facebook and Thousands of Fans, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Showered With Birthday Greetings and Facebook Gifts, ETE.
Connect With Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid on Facebook, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Gains Too Many Friends on Facebook, ETE.
Follow Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai on Twitter, ETE.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Judged One of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century, ETE.
Poems Give Most Revealing Glimpse of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Hailed as Most Powerful in Horse Racing Industry, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed Pays Record Price for Aussie Horse Racing Deal, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Ambitions for Middle East, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammad Models Rare Style of Leadership, ETE.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Leadership is Honoured, ETE.
New Website for H H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ETE.
Dubai and Sheikh Mohammed on 60 Minutes Video, ETE.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page upon which many more articles and links are posted than on this blog.

Image: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is interviewed by Sindiya Ibrahim at Fujairah’s HCT Women’s College. (Photo courtesy of WAM)

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