Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Founding Chairman, Al Habtoor Group hosted the fifth session of Open Talk on Wednesday 18 October 2017 in honour of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Founding Father of modern Dubai, Vice President and the first Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates who ruled for more than 30 years from 1958-1990. Joanna Andrews reports.
Khalaf Al Habtoor was joined by a panel of prominent Emirati businessmen who knew Sheikh Rashid. Al Habtoor recounted stories from the past along with HE Khalifa Al Naboodah, Founding Chairman of Khalifa Al Nabooda Group of Companies; HE Abdul Ghaffar Hussein, a well-known businessman, philanthropist and one of Dubai’s first published writers; and HE Hamad bin Sougat, a local poet, who would often go on trips out into the desert with Sheikh Rashid.
The session, which was broadcast live from the Al Habtoor Group head office on Facebook, Periscope and YouTube , was moderated by Noura Badawi, Group Communications Officer, Al Habtoor Group, and Jassim Al Bastaki, an Emirati entrepreneur. Open Talk 5 also saw more than 80 of Al Habtoor’s social media followers in the audience, and a further 5,600 tune in online.
Each of the panellists, who have witnessed the phenomenal transformation of Dubai from a desert to a world-class metropolis, reminisced stories from with past, remembering personal accounts with Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed.
“Today we are remembering a legend. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Matkoum was a great man who will never be forgotten by our great nation. He built modern Dubai and put the city on the world map,” said Khalaf Al Habtoor. “He touched so many people’s lives. I was very fortunate; Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed was a mentor to me and I learned so much from him. He was full of life, was incredibly patient, and had time for everyone no matter what their background. These are rare attributes in a leader.”
The panellists talked about Sheikh Rashid’s visions for Dubai before, during and after the Federation was formed. “When the British, left Sheikh Rashid made sure we could carve out a successful future for ourselves. He exceeded all expectations,” Al Habtoor said.
Khalifa Al Nabooda recounted a story when Sheikh Rashid took him to Rashid Port, which at the time was not utilized to its full capacity, and told him his vision to make Dubai a transportation hub. “He had foresight and vision,” he said. “He laid the foundations for Jebel Ali Port and paved the way for immense economic growth… Sheikh Rashid was always thinking ahead. He had many more big plans for Dubai before he died.”
Al Habtoor added, “Dubai is the jewel of the Gulf because of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed’s vision. His planned not just for his lifetime but for generations to come. He saw the potential of the city long before anyone else, and he grasped every opportunity.”
Abdul Ghaffar Hussein said Sheikh Rashid had rare qualities. “He would communicate with everybody. His daily schedule was full of interaction with people from all walks of life… He let everyone have a voice… He was a true statesman.”
Khalifa Al Nabooda added, “Sheikh Rashid would listen to everybody and had this rare ability to make everyone feel like they were the most important person in the room.”
Hamad bin Sougat, who would often ride with Sheikh Rashid, reminisced about their time in the desert. “When riding or walking with Sheikh Rashid we would see his projects come to fruition around us. He made Dubai what it is today… We are very fortunate that both Sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Zayed were great visionary leaders. They complemented each other. Neither had any qualities missing.”
Dates for Open Talk 6 will be announced soon via Al Habtoor’s social media platforms, and KAH Publications.