Arriving in the UAE, I knew little about this country; aside it being an oil-rich conservative nation. I could not help but marvel at their extraordinary achievements in the history of nations advancement. The development of most matured economies took hundreds of years, yet here I was in the most awe-inspiring city on the planet in the middle of the desert, where most of its infrastructural development is less than thirty years old.
Others are quick to point out Dubai is artificial. I honestly struggle to understand what they mean by that sometimes. But I guess this is just their way of expressing how different Dubai is from where they come from. An English friend says Dubai is so fake because it’s just glass and steel and in my mind I wonder if people still live in caves elsewhere. Isn’t infrastructure an index of development anymore? I can’t help but feel these remarks are sometimes undertones of a superiority complex.
80% of Dubai’s population are expats from over 100 countries you shouldn’t expect to bond instantly with everyone. English is supposed to be the commonest mode of communication but factor in the 100+ accents and the broken English of those now learning the language. The feeling is certainly not like visiting the next town or state in your country. It took me months to understand some of my classmates. Out of politeness, I noticed how people sometimes intimated to understand conversations even when it was clear they were lost.
The time I spent in Dubai was the most illuminating experience of my life. The sheer numbers of people who visit this desert for business, education and tourism despite the heat and humidity is astounding. In his book Dubai Leadership Style, my Corporate Leadership professor Dr. Tommy Weir attributes the leadership habit of “Creating an environment for others to succeed” as the most strategic reason behind Dubai’s success. This is a must read for every leader or aspiring leader.
Ambition and Leadership were pivotal in the accolades achieved for the beautiful constructions Dubai has to its credit. From the World Tallest Building to having some of the World Largest Artificial Islands, Dubai keeps outdoing itself, it has recently launched the construction of the New World Tallest Building. This city is formidable and futuristic.
So what can my beloved country Ghana learn from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates for that matter? Visionary leadership! Did I hear someone say Dr. Kwame Nkrumah? Yes, the most ambitious leader Ghana has ever had in my opinion. He was labelled egoistic and aggressive but I love that, this was a leader who recognized his nation had a lot of catching up to do. Undertook innovative projects that many dismissed as grandiose which are still of great service to the nation today. Notable among them the World Largest Man-Made Lake , the Volta lake, built in 1965.
Every now and then I find myself dreaming about what my country could have been in Nkrumah’s Ghana.