A systemic shift of seismic proportions has taken place in the past two months, and you might not have noticed. The Arab World’s image in the West has always been at best negative with criticism of whatever the region is doing, but actions speak louder than perceptions.
In November this year, the eyes of the world were on Abu Dhabi for the F1 Grand Prix. First held in 2009, this year was the 14th edition and as usual, this was an exceptional sporting event. It was followed by Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup, and despite all the bad press, everything has been going smoothly with many saying that it is so far the best World Cup in terms of organization and management. Then against all odds, Saudi Arabia beat Argentina creating a wave of awe. Yesterday, for the first time another Arab [also African] country threw a huge surprise. Morocco qualified for the semis beating Portugal at FIFA 2022.
Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman on the occasion of the unprecedented visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Kingdom said: “We assure the whole world that the Arabs will race for progress and renaissance once again. We will prove that every day.” Mohammed bin Salman’s comment came at the conclusion of the Arab-China summit on Friday.
What is going on? Is it the time for many detractors to re-evaluate their views and skepticism of a region that has been for the past 10 years witnessing one of the most dramatic transformations?
In August, I was traveling to cities across Europe and North America, and the state of infrastructure, service and hospitality pale in comparison to this region – especially the Arabian Gulf countries.
GCC has the best markets
Today, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, and Riyadh [in alphabetical order] are among the best cities/markets to work and live in, with opportunities and speed of execution unseen elsewhere. The northside oil prices have helped generate excesses, but effective government management and smart city execution have maintained a financial discipline that created a cushion to weather the looming crises the world is bracing to face. Yes, not everything is perfect, there are still things that need improvement. But which economy and which country does not have opportunities to improve?
The flow of investment and people moving to the GCC is unprecedented. Again, this is not a coincidence, GCC airlines offering unmatched network, and quality services that put out all rivals have tremendously helped. And more are coming.
Strategy is essential but the execution is key. With mega-projects emerging all around the region the dynamics are clearly toward this region. Critics will say that some projects will not succeed and that the region will not sustain itself. But as an adman used to say, aim at the stars and you might reach the moon.
Twenty years ago, who would have thought that the Arab world would have transformed and been where it is today? The developments of the past two months have shown the world that this part of the planet will have a bright future, and we might be entering into an era that would be led by the Arab world.
Julien Hawari is a Dubai-based thought leader who has founded and manages top content creation and news management organizations in the EMEA region, including TRENDS. He is also the CEO of MILLION – a blockchain social media.