So I was in Dubai last week and I was super impressed by some things. One of the things that made a deep impression on me is that UAE is a country less than 100 years old.
But this was not the main thing that impressed me. The main thing is that it’s an absolute monarchy which actually works. Absolute monarchy basically means that one person has all the power to control everything.
And how did this happen? How did they transform the sands into a beautiful green oasis?
100 years ago the people on the territory of UAE were mostly bedouins traveling back and forth, winter and summer, between the beach and the desert. They made a living by pearl diving. They collected pearls from the sea and sold them to other countries from across the Gulf region.
It wasn’t a good life, but they were not dying from hunger. At that time the territory of UAE was a British colony. All was well and good until the Japanese people created an artificial pearl. The people in the desert were fucked.
There was a lot of hunger after this moment. Several years later the British people discovered oil and there was hope. This hope quickly vanished, because the ruler was greedy and was taking all the oil revenue. The people were dying from hunger and the ruler was stupid.
The story is long, but several years later the youngest son in the family Sheikh Zayed with the help of the British took the rule.
Sheikh Zayed had never been rich. From early age he lived like the bedouins and tried to make his small village in the desert green. With a lot of nationalism and love for his people he wanted their well being. He also spent many years of his life defending the territory of Abu Dhabi from Saudi Arabia and succeeded by uniting many villages.
The day he took the Monarch post he opened the gates of his castle and invited anyone who wanted help to come. There were kilometers of lines in front of the palace. So the new ruler was nice.
The people in the country were honest and depended a lot on trust. They shared what little they had with their neighbors, because in this harsh environment this was the only way to survive. This proved to be a bad strategy when dishonest people from all over the world started coming to Abu Dhabi to steal as much as they can and screw over the local uneducated people.
But again Sheikh Zayed cared about his people. He created laws and rules which govern the interests of the local people. Today you can’t start a business in UAE without making a 50/50 partnership with someone local.
He split the land among his people giving them land in the center of the city. He encouraged them to build and have passive income.
As the time passed and from the oil revenue hospitals and schools were built, big hotels and green plants sprouted everywhere. Little by little the local people, governed by rules made in their interest, turned the desert into an oasis.
In the meantime Sheikh Zayed persuaded other rulers to make a union to protect the territory. Travelling back and forth after many years all of them agreed and the United Arab Emirates was created.
This story tells us a lot. It tells us how uneducated desert people can achieve a lot with the proper rules and what real leadership means.
Today Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the fastest growing towns in the world and they clearly look amazing.
And it tells us how even a monarchy with a great ruler can work.