I watched Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum on television announcing the new national strategy for the United Arab Emirates last week. He was confident and direct, and not afraid to say the truth no matter how painful or embarrassing it could be. The way he talked about the ministry of justice for example was just unbelievable.
Few months ago, Mohammed bin Rashid, a true visionary, has locked the members of his new cabinet in a fancy resort in Dubai and told them they won’t leave the place until they come up with a clear strategy of the country for the coming years. Obviously, after making Dubai the miracle that it is today, he now wants to take the rest of the emirate with him to the future. Is there any doubt he would do it? I, for one, have no doubt. All the best to our brothers in the UAE.
Now moving to our magic kingdom, I guess I wasn’t the only one to be disappointed that the king’s speech to the Shoura Council carried no major announcements. The major news came later last week was launching a number of new projects worth US$31.5 bn in Riyadh. Amazing. That was my immediate reaction while watching the presentations on television. However, this also made me wonder about the “balanced development” agenda that many people were hailing the government for promoting last year.
Just last year, the media was abuzz with the news about the King’s visits to different corners of the country to launch new megaprojects in regions that were admittedly neglected and underdeveloped, including six economic cities that are expected to change the face of Saudi Arabia.
But probably our Najdi brothers got jealous seeing other parts of the country getting a little share of the development cake and decided to do something about it. I bet the rest do not envy the central region; I bet they are genuinely happy for their counterparts there; and I bet this leaves them wondering: was balanced development a true promise or merely a temporary slogan?