Friday, January 19, 2018

Dubai, Refueling Passion!

“A few mistakes made by a person working productively cost far less than a person paralyzed by laziness or fear.”… Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
This year marks 11 years since His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE, became the ruler of Dubai. His respect for business-like and service-led government has seen Dubai’s population grow from 1.4 million to 2.8 million during his 11 year rule; he has lead from the front and implemented strong public transport across the city and has seen Dubai Airport become the busiest in the world. And it’s my third trip in last three years to this dessert dream, made me respect Mr. Maktoum more with my every trip, that’s why I used his quote which speaks about his attitude towards not just Dubai which is his country & kingdom but life! And let me remind you, unlike most other middle east countries there is no oil money in Dubai, yet when its middle east first names comes to the mind of any outsider is Dubai & many of middle east rulers are secretly jealous of Dubai’s popularity amongst outer world! And Dubai has reached to this fame hard way as it takes more than just money to create a dream like Dubai amidst the dessert & then Dubai wasn’t cash rich ever like its sister i.e. Abudhbai leave apart its neighbors Qatar, Muscat & Saudi!
So what’s secret behind Dubai, even if you follow Mr. Maktoum’s quotes, you will know the philosophy which is backbone of Dubai’s glittering success, but is it all? No, its vision as well will to execute the vision & a professional dedicated approach which backs up that will to execute is the three legged success mantra of Dubai is what I conclude. And its same all over the world, ask any Singaporean or German citizen, they too have witnessed such transformation, then what special about Dubai? Well, the time span in which it has achieved this status as well the background & culture of the city, which is also equally important. Just few decades back it was settlement of some fishermen & pearl hunting divers, residing in hutments & now is Middle East’s trade center as well one of top tourist destinations of the world. Right from making the locals change their ways to live, to make the outer world confide in this settlement of fishermen & come here for investments is some achievement, which so called cultured & well settled countries like India & Pakistan also are unable to achieve. When I read about our sarkari babu’s (read govt officers) as well political leaders visiting so called forward countries like UK,  Spain & Sweden I always wonder (after visiting Dubai so frequently in recent) that why we restrict Dubai as just shopping destination, it’s actually our short sightedness! The city has done wonders on the front of town planning as well giving best life to its citizens.
During my this visit I spoke with many of my friends who are in different fields & are residing in Dubai over past decades & one common feedback was the city is best for its citizens. The Sheikh tries to do every good rather best thing for its residents, though its ways can be questioned (A thing you can’t afford to do in Dubai as a foreigner) but then ask any Indian, he will say we need a King type ruler though on social media everybody is happy in slamming our present ruler i.e. Mr. Modi, is different story! I agree we are a democratic country & there are limitations but then in one of his quotes Mr. Maktoum himself have said, you can win the people only by love & not by force! Especially when the world is changing fast & internet as well social media has become so powerful in such case to keep a population of some 2.8 millions happy is not an easy task! He has taken some unpleasant decisions, in very recent times from 1st Jan 18, Dubai govt applied 5% VAT on every purchase & not just that its implementation includes book keeping for smallest of trades men with heavy fines (some 25k dirham) for over ruling the law. And when it’s making people respect the law no one can beat Dubai, as that’s why it’s least crime city in world in its size league! Jokingly it’s said in Dubai, that, “Dubai is a fine city, it charges heavy fines for any mistake you make!” It’s said that the VAT has been implemented as Dubai is facing some serious cash crunch (again something no one will acknowledge in open) though only time will tell whether the VAT implementation saves Dubai or worsen the things. But this hasn’t any way affected Mr. Maktoum’s plans to make Dubai number one in world as one look at the developments going around & you know he is a man on mission!
Like many of my friends always are curious about why I always visit forests, many a times same forest repeatedly; my answer is forest is ever changing & you will never find it same, how many times you may visit it. Same thing I feel about Dubai now, each time the city looks different, changing its appearance (needless to say on better side) for the visitors as well its resident. Always trying to offer something better to everybody associated with it & this time also wasn’t exception. I spent my maximum time wandering around the city with my friends who took me to not just popular tourist places but everywhere, even some places haven’t been explored by locals also! To name a few I will share three things, Miracle Garden, Dubai Canal Development & one is private residences colony named Springs. This will make you understand what an ideal city should provide to its residents.
Miracle Garden as the name suggests is a miracle in dessert as I have seen gardens & huge ones, natural as w ell man made but the to build a garden spread over hundreds of hector of sand & to make it sustain extreme weather condition which differs from 10 degrees to fifty degrees is something special. This garden is built over nearly eight lac sq ft area with millions of flowers blossoming, making it one of the largest natural flowers garden. There are many sculptures including a life size Emirates Boeing airplane, decorated with plants all over it. No wonder since its opening four years back the place is a must visit spot for tourists visiting Dubai. Well we too have many gardens in our Pune city but what’s difference is the way they are being presented to the visitors & maintained & marketed too, and we fail on all three fronts is a bitter fact barring some exceptions like Pu La Deshpande garden! Its spots like Miracle Garden which gives face to the city& stood to the expectation of the tourists giving them satisfaction of experiencing something unique! This is what a ruler has to do for the city i.e. seeing the dreams & make them reality!
Then there is one more wonder which came in existence very recent, Dubai Water Canal which is an artificial canal unveiled on 2 October 2013 and inaugurated on 9 November 2016. It comprises one shopping centre, four hotels, 450 restaurants, luxury housing, walkways and cycle paths. It is a three-kilometer long project starting from Business Bay (commercial district) into the Persian Gulf through Safa Park and Jumeirah, which are suburbs of Dubai. The width ranges from 80 meters to 120 meters. It is six meters deep and be crossed by eight-meter high bridges. It creates new public places and facilities with a total area of 80,000 square meters with private marinas for boats and a trade centre at the entrance of the canal. Well, leave apart statistics but would somebody have ever imagined feel like moving in city of canals i.e. Amsterdam while moving in a city in dessert? Yes it has become a reality & I was fortunate to visit this promenade &it has made out of the state way, a Dubai trademark! While walking along the canal, I noticed the minute detailing which has been taken care, along with sit outs on the walk way there are light poles with provision of charging the cell phones of the walkers, even this has been thought of! At evening music is played & at every electric pole, there are speakers, needless to say they are of company like Bose! Looking at these speakers I remembered reading news of theft of LED light fittings on a street in Pune; here in Dubai nobody can dare to think so even about the Bose speakers, rather nobody thinks on these lines. That’s the culture we need to cultivate as its public property & it has to be maintained to serve the city & that’s everybody’s responsibility, hope someday we Punekar’s (read Indians) understands it! The Dubai Canal will not only be a great tourist attraction bas well boost to somewhat down real estate market but it’s a great facility to spend time in open for the citizens of Dubai. Looking at that beautiful canal walk way & its development work, I remembered the dreams shown to us about river beautification & images of citizens throwing garbage in Mula/ Mutha from the bridges over them, flashed in my mind! May be we don’t deserve even such dreams is what I think whenever I look at such developments like Dubai Canal!
The third place I visited was of bungalows & town houses & its private development & on this front we too have any good developers who can match the workmanship but what is special is the scale of development. Springs, the project is of nearly four thousand bungalows & villas & is spread in clusters of three hundred/four hundred bungalows at a stretch. And main aspect is every cluster has a lake of its own, yes a lake! And the biggest lake was of periphery nearly two kilometer, now you can imagine the scale of this development. What such development has made impact is there is bio diversity now here & you can see sparrows, parrots & mainas along with even hoppoos (a bird which eats insects from grass) in the premise of these bungalows. This is very important aspect of development as on one side our Pune city is witnessing loss of sighting of sparrow like common birds & water bodies & here amidst a dessert Mr. Maktoum is busy in building entire life cycle! As do mind you doesn’t build a city with just concrete & steel but a city is build with life in it & that’s exactly what our planners (read rulers) needs to be understood!
One more thing has to be mentioned is Dubai’s synchronized transportation system RTA i.e. Road & Transport Authority which controls Metro, Local Busses & Taxis, making it separate subject of study!  Dubai is lot more than just a shopping destination or trade center & above three places are just at zalak (trailer) of what Dubai has to offer to its residents, as if you build a city keeping in mind citizens then the city is bound to become a worth visiting for the tourists also, is a simple fact about urban planning which our planners has failed to acknowledge repeatedly. By the way something about Mr. Maktoum’s attitude towards the city as a lot has been known about his wealth yet this guy moves in & around city alone, just like a common man, very same like Harun Al Rashid of Baghdad in Arabian Nights. He meets people, speaks with them about their expectations from the city, (btw fires public workers if found absent from their work place). Agreed he is a King & it’s always his way or high way but then one must appreciate his sincere approach to do not just something better but only the best! His ways can be doubted but not intentions & that’s why Dubai citizens respects & loves their King. Though few things like extending resident visa from two years to ten years can be thought of for making people promote to invest in Dubai as well ease of doing business along yet as he says in his quote, unless you are working you can’t do mistakes & he is ready to afford as well correct his mistakes!
What I take back along from Dubai is Mr. Maktoum’s passion to excel in every aspect of life & opting only for the best. Agreed we are a developing, poor country but so was Dubai too just few decades back. And if I alone can’t change my entire country yet I can definitely change my work place as well my individual surrounding; I returned to Pune with my piece of passion which requires no customs duty. Dear Mr. Maktoum, thanks for refilling my brain tank with this fuel of passion, which Dubai probably has biggest storage if not of oil!

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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  1. Very well written Sanjay. It is also interesting to note that almost 50% of Dubai's population is from India and follows all rules without questioning it. Whereas, when we are in India we are the first ones to start the 'non co-operation' movement.
    Amit Karode

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