Flashes of Thought: Lessons in Life and Leadership from the Man Behind Dubai

The Book “Flashes of Thought” is full of life-long lessons on leadership and governance.  In his book, the visionary leader Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) presented his perspective on modern governance and shared his vision on a diverse set of topics in 36 chapters.  The fundamental rationale of the book is to highlight a government’s role in promoting common welfare, ensuring human security, and viewing government as an authority to ensure the service for people rather than over people.

The book’s foreword is written by the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), H.E. Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The book was published in 2013, inspired by The World Government Summit held in Dubai, UAE.

“Flash of the Thoughts” is an insightful reading on Dubai’s modernization and development. At the turn of the twentieth century, Dubai was a small town in the Arabian desert, a pivot of fishermen, trade activities, and a small pearl divers’ village. Now, Dubai is among the wealthiest states of the United Arab Emirates. His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s leadership played a central role in transforming Dubai into a well-recognized metropolitan region of the world. It was Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s insight and vision to transform Dubai into the most prominent global business and trading center, popular tourist destination, and a world-class cosmopolitan city of diverse local traditions. The book contributes to understanding the revolutionary thoughts of Sheikh Mohammad on leadership and governance to set upon a path of a nation’s modernization and development.

The thirty-six chapters of the book are the unified study of the diverse subjects, including governance, motivation, leadership, management, ambition, creativity, success, and risk-taking. The book also encompasses valuable lessons from childhood, personal experiences, and matters associated with horsemanship, poetry, happiness, and football. The lessons impart perspectives on the mentioned subjects and can help readers thrive in their lives to achieve success.

In Chapter One, the author expresses the significance of people’s development and governance. He is of the view that the goal of a government should be the happiness of its people. The author maintains, “the government’s job is to achieve happiness for its people, and they are government’s second and third priority.” He states that the government’s ultimate goal should be the wellbeing of its people, maintaining public safety, and ensuring the provision of goods and services. The author briefly explained the ideas and measures to ensure the wellbeing of the nation.

In the subsequent chapters, the author also discussed that the relationship between government and people should be faster and approachable in a way that people feel close to their government. The government should be responsive to the rational as well as irrational ideas and desires of its people. Chapters three and four elaborated on initiatives like education, empowerment, and Emiratization to provide training and educate youth regarding professional goals. Central ideas of the other chapters include: the importance of native language and cultural diversity; national unity; simplicity rather than complicating life; role of women in decision-making and nation-building; the role of the training program in the development process; the positive influence of role models in life; effective time management in professional and personal life; establishing a sustainable model and foundation; employees empowerment; risk inspiration; the significance of vision and ambition to achieve goals; accession day and UAE’s success; empowerment is key to success; people should not wait for tomorrow to live their dreams; vision to help the vulnerable, and significance of workforce for development and governance.

In a chapter, the author discloses his motive for building the latest tallest tower of the world, namely Burj Khalifa. The key reason to develop the skyscraper was to diversify the economy and contribute to the economy through sustainable tourism. Now it is an iconic tourist attraction highlighted as a national feat. In the last chapters, the author recognized the importance of leaders in governance. In the author’s words, “leadership is not granted by birth and not guaranteed by best education.” Effective leadership embraces capacity, willingness, and capability to govern and achieve goals.

A leader can effectively influence his/her followers through their ability to communicate with him and among one another. The powerful motivation, capability, and charisma are inevitable to guide people towards a common goal. In a nutshell, ‘Flashes of Thoughts: Lessons in life and leadership from the man behind Dubai’ is a lasting impression of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision for the generations. It is an illuminating account on love for the nation, respect for culture and religion, and a shared sense of responsibility. Today, the book is recognized and widely read on the subjects of town planning, capital development, and modern governance.

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About Asma Khalid 11 Articles
Author is Editor of the Melange International Magazine and Research Associate at Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR). Her research interests include South Asian Security and Strategic issues. Her analysis of these issues has featured in national and international publication platforms.