Former staffer to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid shares secrets of Dubai's success in new book
In 'The Sheikh CEO', Yasar Jarrar offers an insider's account of working under the long-serving ruler
A top aide who worked for the Ruler of Dubai has lifted the lid on his former boss’s leadership style in the hope that others will learn lessons from his success.
Yasar Jarrar, who spent eight years at the Executive Office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE, said The Sheikh CEO would help shed light on the leader’s “unique” approach to governing.
Dr Jarrar, an academic who was director of strategy in the executive office, spent three years conducting interviews and writing the book, which gives an insider’s account how Sheikh Mohammed interacted with staff and how projects such as the Dubai Metro and Burj Khalifa came to fruition.
He is a master storyteller, and that is, for me, the trait of any great leader
“Various books, case studies, and papers have told the story of Dubai Inc,” Dr Jarrar, who also drew on diaries he kept to write the 208-page account, told The National.
“However, not much has been written about the unique leadership style of Sheikh Mohammed.
“This book aims to shed light on that leadership style; the bold vision, the passion for delivery and speed, and the ability to leverage talent.”
It seeks to explain how Dubai succeeded in rapidly developing into a global hub for trade, tourism and transport in recent decades while other cities, particularly in the developing world, have tried but failed to replicate its success.
Sheikh Mohammed, who became Ruler in 2006 and held leadership positions before that, deserves a great deal of the credit for his embrace of free market principles, meritocracy, improving government services and deliberately staying out of many of the political entanglements in the region, Dr Jarrar argues.
He is also praised for his willingness to take risks, his vision and focus on developing talents of the UAE’s young people.
“Not only is his leadership style a useful blueprint for development leaders, it is also an inspiration for a whole new generation in the Middle East,” Dr Jarrar, who worked for Sheikh Mohammed between 2001 and 2009, said.
“During my talks and lectures in the Middle East and globally, the session on Dubai Inc and the Sheikh CEO is always the one that attracts most positive comments and creates the positive energy. But then one consistent question always comes up: how does Mohammed Bin Rashid do it? What is his secret?”
Dr Jarrar said Sheikh Mohammed’s ability to win “hearts and minds” was another factor behind his success.
“If there is one skill that each and every leader should perfect, it is communication,” he said.
“The sheikh’s style offers a lot of tools for all of us to work on.
“He is a master storyteller, and that is, for me, the trait of any great leader.
"In an age of robots and artificial intelligence, it is going to be empathy, storytelling, creativity, and ability to win hearts and minds that will shape our collective future as humans.”
On Thursday, the book, which was released this month, was ranked the No 1 bestselling book by Amazon in the UAE.
“While the book’s main focus is on leadership via chronicling the leadership story of Sheikh Mohammed, it is essentially a book about leadership," Dr Jarrar said.
"Given my first-hand experience and privileged insights, the book communicates an insider’s view in a pragmatic way.
“I still get excited every time I tell the stories of the rise of Dubai, and its Sheikh CEO.”
Updated: February 23, 2020 06:53 PM