Learning Leadership in the Emirates

The Washington Post | Jul 31, 2009
By: Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood

With Dubai’s popularity as a cosmopolitan hot spot, Abu Dhabi’s growth as a global financial center and the country’s renewable energy initiatives, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has staked an indisputable claim in the global business arena. In working closely with executives there, we’ve seen up close how this Middle Eastern culture creates a unique style of leadership—one that we would do well to understand.

The metaphor for a successful leader in the UAE is that of a family patriarch, as embodied by the dynamic Sheikh Zayed, who ruled Abu Dhabi for nearly 40 years, formed the UAE and was re-elected as its leader five times. This “father of the nation” was renowned for his vision and generosity as he turned the advantages of oil revenues into social and economic prosperity. Zayed was less an autocrat than a leader who made decisions by consensus.

Learn more about this unique approach to leadership.