But as the aircraft landed and I stepped into Dubai international airport, it was like I was transported into another world!
In a land that was just dry desert (a lot still is) just a short while ago, what rises up into the sky today is a proud and modern city that compares to the best in the world, and even surpasses many of the so called modern global cities I have travelled to.
The two things that struck me most about Dubai – is the great emphasis on infrastructure and discipline. While having these two elements in place is a basic requirement, it is unfortunately something that most other cities in a hurry to grow forget to provide and develop.
Let me dwell a bit on both, as they are physical manifestations of the two elements of ‘will’ and ‘passion’ to achieve a vision:
Non-stop Electricity – Imagine living in a country where the power supply is so consistent in supply and quality that, as my host remarked, you probably never have to change a light bulb once you’ve installed it!
Roads– There are roads everywhere, and very good multi-laned roads, well lit and marked with signages including thoughtful ones like “Warning, new traffic signal ahead!”
Construction – At a glance Dubai is a city ‘under-construction’. But incredibly this doesn’t mean you have to live with building material and construction crew all around. The construction goes on keeping in mind the convenience and hygiene of everyone around. Even the manual labor from other countries act more responsibly, unlike the way they would back home!
Water– Yes, water is more expensive than fuel here (1 Gallon 98 octane petrol = 6.75 AED | I Gallon water = 10 AED approx). But there is water all round, for drinking, to develop greenery, and even to take a boat ride in the middle of a mall!
Transport – Almost everyone above a certain income level here owns a car. And for everyone else there is public transport, including not just air-conditioned busses but AC bus-stops as well! And soon there will be the Dubai metro.
Food – I am adding this to infrastructure, because quite simply we all run on our stomachs whether we admit it or not. And in Dubai, you can get food and your favorite chilled Coke anywhere at anytime!
For a country so young to provide all this in top order, that too in the middle of a hot desert – that’s truly amazing.
I cannot believe how disciplined this place is. From the cleanliness, to the traffic, to the way people move around in malls – there is order all around. And from what I hear, there is no crime!
What’s interesting to note, is that there is no obvious enforcement of discipline or law.
On one hand it is the basic culture of the locals of wanting to be seen as the best people in the world.
On the other hand, law enforcement is all technology driven, and punishment for breaking the law is swift and hard. As an outsider, breaking the law means you don’t get to live here anymore – you get deported. And because life is so good here, you don’t want to jeopardise that!
To my mind, if you have these two basics covered, rest assured success will follow. This applies to corporates as well.
But for corporates, infrastructure and discipline take on a different shapes:
The right tools
The trained people
And of course, a comfortable, conducive workplace
Sticking to objectives and goals. Objectives become the religion.
Sticking to processes. Processes become rituals.
Respecting roles and responsibilities. This becomes the culture.
The Dubai Strategic Plan 2015