Working in the UAE

By Mungo Denison — March 23, 2018

“An easy life does not make men, nor does it build nations. Challenges make men, and it is these men who build nations.” H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai.

Working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been the norm rather than the exception for NEWSUBSTANCE over the last 10 years. A region rich in history and culture it has provided the backdrop to some of our most challenging and rewarding projects over the course of that decade and somewhere, hopefully, we will continue to return to for years to come.

For many people in the UK, when they think UAE they think Dubai with all of its fairy-tale allure and mystique. A premium holiday destination or playground for the rich and famous? Whichever, that is only a tiny bit of the story. Dubai is a wonderful contradiction; a country that can inspire and frustrate in equal measure and to understand and appreciate it fully one has to look beyond 7-star hotels and the world’s tallest building. But Dubai is only one of a federation of seven emirates that make up the UAE and to appreciate and understand this region it needs to be viewed as a sum of all its parts.

I can only relate my personal experiences of working in this part of the world from a live events and ceremonies perspective. To that end it is an exciting and fast paced environment. There is an enormous appetite for innovation, to challenge conventional thinking and foster a space in which creativity can shine. Here the term blue-sky thinking doesn’t mean hosting a meeting outdoors. It really means the sky’s the limit. Once engaged with an idea, a concept, they will back you to the hilt. Evidenced by the region’s rapid development over a relatively short space of time, this drive to keep on pushing and not rest on laurels offers a robust platform from which the brightest and best in our industry can thrive.

The brightest and the best. And that is important. Why? Because roads to the region are littered with the bones of modern day highwaymen who have fallen trying to milk the land and its people to turn a quick buck.

To have the privilege of working here again and again one needs to demonstrate above all a quality that transcends language, religion and any cultural differences – integrity. Armed with this anything is possible in a land where ambition, pride and clear eyed forward thinking characterise the citizens who rule and reside in the UAE.

So to return to HH’s quote above. Whilst NEWSUBSTANCE are certainly not in the business of building nations, the challenge of working in this region on some of the biggest and most ambitious projects to date has certainly made men of us all.