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The Visionaries

Pan Asian Media in June 2014 published a non-fiction book, The Visionaries: Extraordinary Stories of the UAE’s Economic Miracles Through The Eyes of Indian Visionaries – which is available at all the major bookstores. The 440-page hard-bound book is a celebration of entrepreneurship in the UAE – a country that has given birth of so many entrepreneurs. The book compiles business profiles of 32 extraordinary entrepreneurs and their life struggle to overcome the odds.

The Visionariesalso tries to explain the economic miracle of the UAE that has transformed itself to a major economic powerhouse within the span of just 50 years – from a collection of a few fishing settlements in the 1960s.

When history is being made, most people living through the moment do not realise that they are part of a great story taking shape. When the BurjKhalifa was rising storey by storey, a billboard screamed – History Rising! But how many people realised its true significance?

Most people drove past, dismissing it as another billboard showcasing a real estate project – one of hundreds at that point of time. But history did rise in Dubai. BurjKhalifa, in a way, symbolises the creation of an economic miracle called Dubai. From a wider perspective, what the UAE has achieved since its independence in 1971 could well be a case study at Harvard University or Wharton School, from which MBA students and public policymakers can take many lessons.

Unfortunately, there are not much documented academic historical references to the UAE’s phenomenal growth and progress. In reality, this country has compressed the typical development of 200+ years into a span of just 40-50 years – thanks to its visionary leadership. However, a government’s vision can’t become a reality if the business community does not follow through to develop a vibrant private sector. For that, you need visionary entrepreneurs and businessmen.

In this book, 32 visionary entrepreneurs talk of how they worked tirelessly to create their own businesses and contribute to their adoptive country’s economy, in line with the UAE government’s vision. The Visionaries is, in a way, a reflection of the economic history of the UAE – which many foreigners find nothing short of a miracle.

When it comes to finding a book to read and understand how this economic miracle took place, there seems to be a shortage of references. In the absence of a formally written economic history, the author has tried to paint the picture of the UAE’s economic progress through the eyes of 32 Non-resident Indian businessmen – representing the largest expatriate community in the UAE and several economic verticals.

The book is not an attempt to narrate the economic history of the UAE – which is best left to historians – but an animated conversation that reflects on the country’s great experiment with economy and its outstanding achievements

Rome was not built in a day, but Dubai was – well nearly.This is how Dubai’s rise from the desert sands, like the rise of a phoenix from ashes, might be referred to in future. The emirate’s economic miracle defies principles of economic theories and sometimes logic. However, it is a reality.

The country’s open-door policy has helped international traders to locate businesses here which, in turn, helped the country to attract talent and investment.

From the formative years, the UAE’s leadership has invested resources in physical infrastructure to build roads, ports and airports and later in soft infrastructure that helped boost trade. The UAE economy currently feeds into a fifth of mankind – through import, export and re-export activities that fuels its economic growth.

Truth is really stranger than fiction. What Dubai achieved in the last ten years, most countries cannot even in centuries. Dubai not only provides a perfect plot for a Hollywood movie, it could also be a good case study for the students of MBA and Public Policy in leading business schools in the world

Former United Nations Secretary General KofiAnnan once described Dubai as ‘one of the world’s great economic miracles’.

Historians of the future might refer to the rapid fire growth of this magnificent city and its economic miracle in this manner. However, how many of us – those living in this exciting city and in this exciting time – realise this?

Dubai’s economic miracle and how it all happened, has not been adequately explained. To many observers, it remains a wonder. Those who visited the emirate in the 1980s and 1990s will find the developments of the last decade in which the freehold real estate boom massively changed the city’s landscape, just unbelievable.

Dubai is a perfect example of how one man’s vision could change the course of a city-state’s economy and its fortune. The term ‘Vision-driven Growth’ was perhaps never executed anywhere in the world better than in Dubai.

That vision has been translated into reality through the government’s pro-active and business-friendly policies and the private sector’s participation, led by visionary business leaders. Agood number of businessmen had the vision to realise the new economic opportunities created by the government policies. So they have undertaken risks by investing in this economy and benefitted from these opportunities.

This book does not try to narrate the economic history of the emirate, but tries to explain it through the inspiring stories of 32 visionaries. A must read for those who want to know more and importantly, want to understand how the economic miracle was created!