Interview: Mattar Al Tayer
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority chairman is as bullish as can be when it comes to the emirate’s future.
April 12, 2010 10:02 by Emily Meredith
A leader who has no barriers like Sheikh Mohammed deserves to be served very well. And I always at night think that whatever I do I would not make him satisfied because I know his vision, I know he is a demanding person, a creative person. A good thing about him is if you make a mistake, he tells you to admit your mistake. He says, ‘If something happens please tell me you made a mistake and nobody will do anything to you. But at least tell me so I know that you knew you made a mistake. Speak openly.’
Have you ever made a mistake?
I would be lying if I were to tell you I did not make a mistake. Nobody who works, spends billions of dirhams on infrastructure has no mistakes.
Maybe we have done one or two projects where I feel the plan was not right. I have, of course. The mistake happens because the figures maybe weren’t right. You have the population numbers, but if the numbers are garbage it comes out garbage.
Has it been difficult to plan when the population has been in such flux?
When we established the RTA five years ago there were only 300,000 cars registered in Dubai. Now, there are 1.1 million.
With this growth you’d expect people to make mistakes anywhere in the world. With rapid growth, it happens. If it was done in America or France they would maybe make the same mistakes. But I don’t think [our mistakes] were serious. We have, for example, areas where we don’t have enough parking – like Soufouh – but we don’t have serious mistakes.
How do you see the recovery in the region and in particular in Dubai?
Although we can say that, relatively, the GCC escaped the global economic crisis compared to countries such as Greece or Portugal, we cannot eliminate the vulnerability. GCC economic recovery is expected through improvement in oil demand and oil price. Dubai’s core businesses are logistics, services, and tourism and export.
This is what made Dubai move forward, not the real-estate market as the only activity. Now we are focusing on growing logistics activities with projects such as flydubai airline; continuously improving the fleet and quality of Emirates Airlines and airport facilities; services and tourism activities through big infrastructure projects such as Dubai Metro and the RTA transit master plan (to connect the whole of Dubai in preparation for its bid for the summer Olympics in 2020); and export through the new oilfield discovery for Dubai and Jebel Ali port.