By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

The Lectern: Dubai rising

The Kennedy School has a collaboration with the recently-established (2005) Dubai School of Government (DSG).


When I met last summer in Boston with DSG Dean Yasar Jarrar, he emphasized that Dubai saw "good governance" as a key competitive advantage for this city (one of seven emirates constituting the United Arab Emirates) in its economic development efforts to become a trade, tourism, and financial hub. Out of this judgment has grown a new two-year program for Young Leaders at the DSG. The 30 or so participants, selected from many hundreds of applicants, are thirty-somethings from government and business.
 
The first module of the two-year executive education program for Young Leaders, held here in Dubai a few months ago and taught by visiting Kennedy School faculty, was on Innovations in Governance. (Note that Dubai, which seeks to compete based on good governance, sees government innovation as an important enough topic to lead off this elite program. Lesson here for us in the U.S.?) 


I am now in Dubai teaching in the second module of the program -- on using performance measures to improve government performance. (Again, a lesson for us?  Notice that none of these first two modules is on a subject such as "techniques for control and oversight" or "detecting and punishing fraud").


 I can report that this group of young leaders is an impressive bunch. Their English is superb (just one example: A student said in class discussion that if one used a certain technique, "you can kiss employee motivation goodbye," a level of knowledge of American idiom that one very seldom sees among those whose native language isn't English). More importantly, they are smart, articulate, self-confident and optimistic. And they have a real sense of urgency about the need to bring Dubai up to world-class standards of excellence in what they do.


These people are, to put it mildly, not just sitting on their oil raking in cash (In Dubai's case, their oil will run out shortly).  This is a very different Middle East from a region debilitated by failure, humiliation, and poverty. The Dubai story cannot but be good for the Middle East and for a more peaceful, stable world.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Jan 08, 2008 at 12:09 PM


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