Driving along Happiness Street

By: Nikita Jeswani, Smith School MBA Candidate
January 7, 2018

Today, we had a presentation from Ayman Al Awadhi, Managing Director of Corporate Business Services (CBS), a strategic partner to the government for attracting foreign direct investment by providing services to get companies established in the UAE. Al Awadhi shared his insights about the legal and operational framework of the country, including the different protocols required in the mainland versus in the 24 free zones. “Unlike the Western world, face-to-face interaction is very important,” Al Awadhi noted. Dropping in to get tea with a client is a much more effective engagement strategy than sending an email: companies do not have an endless list of vendors and suppliers, but rather, will partner with someone who they have met recently and with whom they have a trusted relationship.

Following lunch at the Madinat Jumeirah, we visited the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, where Dr. Scott Richardson, Dean, described the Jumeirah Group’s businesses and the premier education delivered at the academy. Dr. Richardson reiterated the importance of relationships, including that nepotism is normal and totally correct. Contracts are not as important as family relationships or commitments – it is right to look after your family and your tribe. “A handshake is worth more than the bit of paper your contract is written on.”

Cultural Insight

To arrive at CBS, our bus took us along Happiness Street. In 2016, UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced via twitter the first Minister of State for Happiness, Her Excellency Ohoud bint Khalfa Al Roumi. Her primarily responsibilities are to foster happiness and positivity as a lifestyle and the higher purpose of government work in the UAE by:

  1. Harmonizing government plans
  2. Incentivizing public and private entities
  3. Proposing strategic policies
  4. Instilling a culture of happiness and positivity
  5. Developing key performance indicators
  6. Promoting the UAE

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