For Dubai and the world, a leader's legacy
Heavier lies the crown: as the pace of change has increased, the burdens of leadership have grown. There are few who understand this better than Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who became the Ruler of Dubai five years ago today.
No one could have predicted in 2006 what the world would put on his plate. Despite the turmoil that has engulfed the world in the past three years - and all that Dubai has confronted as a result - Sheikh Mohammed's essential vision endures.
The view from the Burj Khalifa or the Palm Jumeirah, two landmarks completed during his tenure, cannot capture what Sheikh Mohammed has been able to build, and more importantly, to preserve, during a time of crisis. To understand what Dubai continues to represent, ask those on the streets of cities from Morocco to Bangledesh, where everyone seems to have a relative or friend who is in Dubai or who wants to be.
Property values are no longer growing by 20 per cent a year; there is no project in the works that will top the Burj Khalifa. Growth has slowed in Dubai but it still serves an essential global role. Like New York or London in their prime, Dubai is a place of opportunity for those who have few. And particularly for those in the Middle East, where stagnant economies and perspectives so often limit possibilities, Dubai offers a chance at something better.
Perhaps that is what Sheikh Mohammed meant when he said that "the UAE is not merely a financial or economic centre, nor is it only a tourist destination between East and West, but an important humanitarian centre on the international stage." It is Dubai's role as a hub, and not just for airlines or travellers, that continues to define it.
Throughout his leadership, Sheikh Mohammed has stressed that Dubai be a hub for ideas. It has become a showcase for one idea in particular. As Sheikh Mohammed has said, Dubai is "living proof that when human beings have the courage and commitment to transform a dream into reality, there is nothing that can stop them". The world sees the UAE as a place where people of many faiths and nationalities can pursue opportunity together. Sheikh Mohammed's leadership and vision, like those of the UAE's other leaders, have ensured that this idea remains a reality and an example.