A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Be humble for God, says an 'economist'|
|06/04/02 at 05:06:05|
Sheikh Tariq bin Faisal Al Qassimi, chairman of Sharjah Economic Development Department, does not believe in pretensions. And his straightforward approach to life is unmistakable even in the ambience of his office. It does not overlook breathtaking visuals-all the chairman can see from his seventh floor office are endless rows of high-rises, all busy beehives of activity, and a busier street below. Probably, the 29-year old-the face of Sharjah's youth-derives the inspiration to convert the emirate into an industrial and economic hub of the region from the intense pace of ceaseless action that envelops his workplace.
The decor of Qassimi's office is minimal-portraits of the nation's leaders, and the credentials to the office he holds including qualifications in international finance, senior management in government, and strategies in leadership in government from the University of Westminster, Harvard, and Stanford university.
The "economic" overtures of his high profile job now withstanding, Qassimi like to remind you of his social responsibilities.
"We are guided by the vision of the Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi. He constantly urges us not to run after economic development and to preserve our Islamic culture and heritage," he says. "We are trying to balance our step forward by maintaining what we have achieved while striving to be a key player in th0e regional and international economy."
An alumnus of Higher Colleges of Technology, Qassimi started working even as a teenager, "I was 16 when I joined my father's office as a junior staff working part-time. I was in marketing and public relations, and it was a good learning ground. It helped me build contacts." Subsequently, he handled group investments at the Gulf Medical Products Company, before enrolling for a Masters in Arts in the International Finance at the University of Westminster.
He then joined the Ruler's Office, moved to the Free Zones, and was soon given the additional responsibility as chairman of the Sharjah Economic Department.
Qassimi had a clear sense of direction when he assumed the office as chairman. "First and foremost. We wanted to streamline all the operations related to economic licensing and developing Sharjah as an attractive heaven for investors- non-bureaucratic, friendly, inviting and accommodating. For the first two years, we upgraded out infrastructure, and merged all related procedures under one roof."
For someone who values the importance of relationships, Qassimi believes that building relations between the business and government is the most vital part of economic development from both the financial and social perspectives. "We want to partner with the business community. For this we have initiated a department for economic relations under which there are different heads of departments for building up industry, trade and international relations. Through these departments we are trying to create a communication network between the business community and the Economic Department. We had done that to understand the requirements of the market and the business community."
The feedback to the initiative, he says, has been "very positive. We are receiving a lot of ideas and it keeps us in touch with the market. We don't want to be a government authority that dictates. What we want is to provide investors with a favorable business atmosphere, and serve as a catalyst for their growth."
The change, says Qassimi has been systematically brought out. "First we overhauled the back office, then we have introduced the front office initiative, and now, based on the feedback we have been receiving, we are formulating short-, medium-, and long-term plans to support the local economy."
Success in his front had no made his complacent. "Things can always be smoother. From where we were earlier and where we are today, we have traveled much far. But of course, there is always room for improvement. Nobody can reach the optimum level. There is always a better next destination."
Sharjah has earmarked three sectors-industry, tourism and retailing-as significant in its long-term development plans. "We have achieved considerable progress in all the three already. This has been in line with Sharjah's economic policy. Now, we have more aggressive approach in marketing the three."
The rapid strides of development in the various emirates of the nation, Qassimi says, "complement each other. People speak of competition among the emirates, but then, that is the trend all over the world. For example, in the US, the states of Massachusetts and Florida compete for business. London and Frankfurt are competing to be financial hubs. Competition will result in better value for investment, and it makes you more creative in your approach. What is important about the competition is that it should not be at a cost to your country or society. Whatever is happening in the UAE and in the region helps everybody because the good work that everyone does is complementary and mutually beneficial."
Sharjah, he says, has a unique positioning. "We are very keen on developing the emirate the way we have envisioned. And we have been growing. We had a 12% growth in the GDP. We have seen tremendous growth in the retail sector with the emirate attracting over Dhs2billion in investments. Many new malls have come up, and we are open to private sector initiatives to operate more specialized malls. In fact, there is still a market in Sharjah for specialized, niche malls. All the sectors of the economy have grown ensuring a stable growth, which we a re happy with and are keen to maintain."
As chairman of the Sharjah Free Zones. Qassimi also points out the impressive growth, which the free zones registered last year. "The free Zones had a growth of 30 per cent, which has come out from our traditional market the maximum potential of our traditional markets-the GCC, India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan-is till untapped. It is a huge market."
Focused on cultural tourism, which has given Sharjah the cutting edge in the world Tourism map, Qassimi, who heads the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, says the European market has been a key market for the emirate. "We have a good draw from Germany, Austria, the Scandinavian countries, and the GCC. Sharjah's hotels have an average 75% occupancy, which is a quite positive trend," he says. "We are focused on the development of Sharjah's infrastructure to provide more hotels and shopping opportunities for visitors."
A motivator and team player, Qassimi's day starts early. He is at office by 8.30am, and from then on, it is a steady stream of interactive sessions between the public, and government officials. "Majority of my time goes in dealing with investors and the public," he says.
A man of many hobbies-he was into basketball at school playing for the Under 17 team of Sharjah Sports Club- Qassimi's interests' span from football to squash to horse-riding and reading, for which he finds time every day irrespective of his routine, "It is important to brush up your knowledge through extensive reading." He says. Evening Majlis are also integral part of his life-important both socially and professionally. Father of three children-Nama, Lamia and Faisal-he admits, "Earmarking time for family is the tough part."
Qassimi believes in being humble. "Islam is based on humbleness. You should not be humble for any materialistic purpose you can achieve in this world. You should be humble for God, He will raise you in this life and afterlife."
Deriving inspiration from Sheikh Sultan and his elders, he believes in distilling the goodness of everyone he meets into his life. "Adapt the best you see in any man, and leave out the bad part."
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