Dubai well placed to take advantage of the “age of the mind”, says Sultan bin Sulayem

Guided by the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai is well placed to take advantage of the “age of the mind,” said Sultan Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DP World.

Delivering the keynote address at the INSEAD NAA UAE Leadership Forum, Bin Sulayem said: “Dubai is today a knowledge economy where we create value today by converting data into knowledge. This knowledge gives us the opportunity to make better decisions, better choices on where to invest,” he told the audience.

“Today is the age of the mind. Countries are measured by what is in the minds of its people. The market capitalisation of companies is measured by how many interesting ideas they have deployed. There are many companies today worth billions in market capitalisation, which are all based on ideas.”

Speaking about Dubai’s vision to transform the economy, he said: “One of HH Sheikh Mohammed’s focuses is on how to encourage people to think. It is the age of the mind, so inclusiveness and gender equality are very important.”

The CEO of DP World spoke about his company’s experience in riding the waves of change brought on by the “age of the mind.”

“Today, the innovation in DP World comes from the minds of the people.” One of these ideas was to change DP World’s business model from a port operator to a logistics provider, he noted.

Organised by the INSEAD National Alumni Association (NAA) in the UAE and the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), the INSEAD NAA UAE Leadership Forum provided a platform for sharing diverse ideas on promoting sustainable economic growth and creating a brighter future for the region. Speakers at the Forum engaged in a dialogue on vital topics ranging from the economy, society and culture to technology, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Bin Sulayem recalled HH Sheikh Mohammed’s insistence in the early stages of Dubai’s development in being a pioneer not a follower “who does not copy what others are doing.” One of the biggest examples of this is the launch of the Jebel Ali Free Zone, he said. “We started to invest in creating the Free Zone at the height of Iraq-Iran war,” he said.
He also recalled how the Dubai government invested in hospitality projects to prove to Dubai’s traders the viability of such projects. “When the government built many hotels and proved their success, it changed the mindsets of many traders and transformed them into investors. This was leadership by example,” the DP World Chief said. 

Dubai has provided a global model for creating a vision for the future with HH Sheikh Mohammed’s Eight Principles of Governance, which have created a roadmap for the emirate to move confidently into the 21st century, he further said.

The UAE and Dubai are at the global forefront of embracing the future. Dubai’s and the UAE’s experience of sustainable development represents a world-class model. The country’s success has been driven by economic openness and trade with world markets.

An ideal future will be one in which barriers to cross-border trade and protectionism will have been removed to ensure growth and prosperity. “In this new world, our new vision needs us to imagine, dream big – with on-demand logistics. People want their expectations met today and in the future – it’s not a luxury,” he said.

Saying that this new vision is already happening in the UAE, he said, smart digital solutions are making that happen in the UAE, which is a world leader in this domain. Dubai, the “global free zone capital” is “going one step further by enabling business owners to conduct business digitally, without requiring residency. Virtual company licence owners can manage all their business-related activities, including document signing and submission digitally - their signatures will be legally binding in the UAE,” he said. “The Global Logistics Passport provides advantages for businesses and shipping companies by connecting government entities, including Dubai Customs and Dubai Trade with logistics service providers like DP World and Dnata,” he said.

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