Not in my wildest imagination did I visualize the transformation of my hometown Dubai blossoming into a dynamic futuristic metropolis providing endless opportunities for all its citizens. Dubai may be young in years but it is old in wisdom. It is often referred to as the City of dreams and recognized globally as a nation of firsts where excellence is not only prized but is the overriding goal of both government and people. I can understand why so many people from all over the world flock here with their families to live and work. It is one of the safe havens of the world.
I remember the Dubai of the past before the union of the seven Emirates. When I was a boy it was a far different place to what it is today. Yet, while carving out a future for ourselves we still have managed to retain our rich culture and heritage.
What was once desert is now a sprawling metropolis with a sound financial district and a strong banking sector. Dubai is a place where businesses thrive. It is also a place with a vibrant tourism industry. In 2016, 15 million people visited the UAE according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). In July, Dubai Airports said airport passenger traffic exceeded a record 8 million visitors.
2017 marked the arrival of the Dubai Water Canal, a 6-kilometre-plus waterway connecting the Dubai Creek out into the Arabian Gulf. It is a prime example of combining the old with the new, and we are fortunate that the canal passes by the Al Habtoor City development.
I am always encouraging people to come to Dubai because it allows for such innovative projects and enables people to think outside the box. This is one of the main reasons why I have invested so much into the city. My company’s moto is ‘Growing with the UAE’, and the Al Habtoor Group has done just that. The Group is active in many areas of the economy including hospitality, automotive, education, real estate and publishing. Al Habtoor City is my biggest investment to date. It consists of three collections: hospitality, residential and leisure. It is also now home to La Perle, the region’s first permanent theatre, which opened in August.
La Perle is a major addition to the entertainment sector in the United Arab Emirates and will secure Dubai’s place as a regional entertainment hub. The storyline of the show draws on inspiration from our rich past and combines them with futuristic elements. The theatre itself is just as impressive as the performers. It is the epitome of what Dubai has to offer.