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Dialogue with citizens in the UAE 'is key to good leadership'

DUBAI // Communicating and engaging with citizens in the UAE is critical to effectively lead the country, according to a former White House press secretary in the Obama administration.

Josh Earnest said countries such as the United States and the UAE were committed to appealing to people based on their hopes and aspirations, not their fears or anxieties.

“These are characteristics of governments eager to seize opportunities, even in an uncertain future, to make their citizens more safe and prosperous,” he said.

“The principles of transparency, effective communication and engagement in the US under the leadership of president Obama weren’t just critical to governing our country and growing our economy in a way that would benefit all our citizens, it was also critical to our foreign policy.”

Dr Abdelatif Al Zayani, Secretary General of the GCC, referred to Gulf countries as “gardens in the midst of fires”.

“They are now sources of exporting stabilisation to the region and the world at large,” he said. “So they can take on a role to make this world a better place for all people.”

He said they sought to reach a stable, secure, prosperous and sustainable environment to continue the region’s growth for its citizens and neighbouring countries.

“We work to achieve peace,” Dr Al Zayani said. “We believe in tolerance and realising the dreams of citizens which is why leaders are very close to their own people. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (Vice President and Ruler of Dubai) insists on a positive spirit and this is the general trend in the region – we work to deal with economic growth and we keep in touch with younger generations to know their ambitions and create jobs through entrepreneurship and innovation.”

He said challenges were seen as opportunities for more achievements, such as the war in Yemen.

“Our brothers were on the verge of a civil war in 2011,” he said. “The GCC managed to [help]. I don’t see terrorism as a kind of barrier, rather I take it as a challenge and see it as an opportunity for greater solidarity, cooperation and building bridges with our friends.”

Dr Al Zayani said Arab and Gulf diplomacy was often accused of being a general policy of reacting rather than acting.

“We are moving from reaction to action in politics, economics and military,” he said. “I see great efforts made by foreign ministers building confidence and trust through principles of transparency, credibility and mutual respect and of creating a sense of stability and security among ourselves. We are serving our citizens by providing this safe environment, and I feel we are going to a better future.”

Mona Al Marri, chief executive of Dubai Media Office, which organised the event, said transparency was vital to build a stronger relationship with citizens and the international community.

“We need sometimes to connect the dots and create a good model for the region,” she said. “The UAE story is a good story to be shared and to be an example for the region – this is what government communication should do.”

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