Clinton leads Dubai praise

FORMER US president Bill Clinton praised Dubai’s leaders last week, telling them the way Islamic and Western values and cultures are being merged is “wonderful”.

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By  Anil Bhoyrul Published  December 4, 2005

FORMER US president Bill Clinton praised Dubai’s leaders last week, telling them the way Islamic and Western values and cultures are being merged is “wonderful”. Speaking via telecast at the Leaders in Dubai conference on Monday, Clinton was quick to highlight the work done by the emirate’s rulers, in particular Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Minister of Defence of the United Arab Emirates. Clinton said: “Dubai is a role model of what could be achieved despite the other negative developments in the region. When I went to Dubai for the first time, I was taken to a technology facility where I hooked up to a bank kiosk and found that one can use a conventional banking service, while at the same time opt for an Islamic Sharia compliant service, which I thought was wonderful. This is a very good example of how cultures and values could be merged and offered to the rest. I was amazed and I have a lot of admiration for Sheikh Mohammed for what he’s doing in Dubai.” Clinton also urged members of the YAL (Young Arab Leaders) to spread their message across the region. He explained: “I think much can be done by just telling others about your own achievements. They can share their experience and ideas with others and help them develop their economies as Dubai has done. YAL can leverage their experience to enlighten others.” He added: “Look at Dubai, which has achieved enormous growth in such a short period of time. Less than 6% of Dubai’s income comes from oil. It’s no longer an oil economy." Clinton’s speech came just a week after he appeared in person at Dubai’s American University. During his visit to the emirate, he spoke directly on the chances of peace in the region. The former US president was not the only speaker to praise the emirate in his Leaders in Dubai address. Best-selling author, Dan Pink, said: “Global economies will now be driven by right-brain attitudes where designers, creators and empathisers will be leaders, because their talents cannot be recreated offshore or made redundant by technology.” He told delegates: “Big-picture thinking is difficult to outsource offshore and difficult to automate. This is where Dubai has a strong advantage because it is a crossroads kind of a place — a multilingual, multicultural place that creates empathies and that’s where great ideas come from. When we empathise towards everyone the world’s a better place, period! But empathy also has a business advantage, because it cannot be outsourced or automated.” Pink continued: “This is an age of novelty and nuance where design has become a fundamental business literacy — an age when everyone is in the arts and entertainment business. Dubai is in the arts and entertainment business with just 8% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) coming from oil and now 17% coming from tourism — and that’s the arts and entertainment business.” Pink said that his vision of the future was one “where youth would be better advised studying fine arts than striving for traditional MBAs”. “Kids should now be encouraged not to follow the traditional MBA programmes of the left-brain era — which are now being outsourced offshore — but to follow master of fine arts (MFA) degrees. The MFA has now become the new MBA because the abilities required to obtain it cannot be outsourced and are harder to automate,” he added. Another speaker, Abdullah Al Zamil — CEO of Zamil Industries — said, in his own presentation, that world leaders need to “keep pace with the changing world”. He told delegates: “We must take care to prevent a loss of cultural identity. In many places, the traditional way of life is getting lost and the public feel that their way of life has to be protected against foreign influence.” The Leaders in Dubai summit was held at the Madinat Jumeirah complex last Monday and Tuesday. The conference was held in front of audiences estimated at around 1500 each day.

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