New book Dare to Dream about Sheikh Mohammed dream about Dubai dream

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Written by a veteran journalist in the UAE, it consists of three chapters examining the ruler’s journey

In 1990: Raed Barqawi was a reporter for Arabic newspaper Al Khaleej when the First Gulf War broke out.

As a wave of panic spread across the region and people sought to travel abroad in fear of an expanding conflict, Barqawi received news from the office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid – then the country’s Minister of Defence – saying he was planning on building a second golf course in Dubai.

Barqawi could not discern why the future Dubai Ruler chose that specific moment in time to announce the project.

“There was war going on,” he tells The National. “Embassies wanted to evacuate their staff from here and from Saudi Arabia. Everybody was scared.”

It was a question that stayed with him for nearly a decade.

“I didn’t have an answer because I didn’t have any connections with His Highness,” Barqawi, who is now the editor-in-chief of Al Khaleej, says“I finally met him in 1999 and I asked him.”

Barqawi says Sheikh Mohammed remembered that decision well, and that the announcement was a symbolic way of alleviating the propagating anxiety.

“He said he wanted to give a message to the world that we are not worried,” Barqawi says. “That everything will be fine. It was a way of saying: ‘If you want to leave, leave, but you’re doing the wrong thing because we are not worried. We are building and our battle is with developing the country, not with war.’”

This foresight and steadfast dedication to Dubai’s development fascinated Barqawi, and inspired the veteran journalist to write a new Arabic-language book about Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

Dare to Dream: How Mohammed bin Rashid Made His Dream of Dubai Come True launched on Sunday at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and highlights how the vision and leadership of Sheikh Mohammed turned Dubai into a success story and leading global hub.

The book is divided into three chapters: “Working Wonders”, “A Man Destined to Lead” and “The Oasis of Imagination”. It also includes an introduction, “The Wind Beneath His Wings”, and an epilogue, “Life is a Story of Our Dreams”.

Barqawi dives into the history of the UAE and explores Sheikh Mohammed’s childhood, analysing the factors that helped to shape his personality.

“Sheikh Mohammed took Dubai to another level,” Barqawi says. “He was a leader and a dreamer. His Highness travelled with his father in the late 1960s, early 1970s all over the world. He went to New York and saw the Empire State Building, which was then the tallest building in the world, and asked why we couldn’t have something like that in our country. He went to London and saw Heathrow Airport, the face of the town, and asked the same question. We can do this, he said. He was dreaming when he was young.”

Barqawi says he tried to address two key questions in his book: how Sheikh Mohammed managed to turn Dubai into a unique global role model and how he empowered “a culture of dreaming in the Arab world, a world that had stopped dreaming decades ago”.

However, Barqawi says his book is as much about the history of the UAE as a whole as it is an homage to Sheikh Mohammed and the city he built.

The reason he focused the work on Dubai’s development is because he witnessed it first-hand during his three decades of experience as a local journalist.

“It is fascinating to be around a personality like His Highness, who has been racing against time to improve the present and future of not just Emiratis but all Arabs.”

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