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When will we have the leaders we deserve?

The Iconic Abraham Lincoln

February 7, 2013 11:22 by

It’s been an interesting week in politics, both past and present. I started it off by sitting down to watch Lincoln, a remarkable movie about a man who was consumed by a passion, a belief that he had to do the right thing to bring together and re-unite a nation.

I was closely following another, more contemporary issue this week back in the United Kingdom. Members of Parliament voted in favour of the government-back and led same sex couples bill. The campaign was personally led by the Prime Minister who fought members of his own party to get the bill passed into law.

In many countries around the world there are leaders that look to foster and develop unity through diversity. There’s an understanding that a country and a nation will become stronger through accepting differences of opinion and governing for all, rather than for a few. America itself was founded on immigration, on accepting millions of those who were, as the poem by Emma Lazarus goes, tired, poor and yearning to breathe free.

And then I turn my attention back to a region that I call home. It’s no secret that we lag behind others when it comes to inclusion, and universal governance. But the harsh truth of the matter has been revealed in all its brutality by the Arab Spring. Whole countries have fractured along sectarian lines. Groups who do not agree with the governing party are branded traitors, whose allegiance is to other countries. It seems as if we have become more tribal, more antagonistic towards our neighbour.

While this may seem far from your own reality, let me try and bring this closer to home. As I’ve written about before, we’re a region which has grown fond of sticking to its own when it comes to work. Are you in a place of employment where you know that a person will get that job, that, promotion and that raise thanks to their nationality, their name, or their family ties rather than on their work ethic, their abilities or their achieves? The setting is different, but the concept is the same.

When will we have leaders and managers who care for all, irrespective of their creed, gender, or colour? When will we see leaders that care about a principle? When will we look forward with the hope borne of trust and faith in our leadership to do the right thing for a nation’s or company’s future? I may sound naïve in saying this, but I am sure these leaders exist in the offices and ministries around the region (indeed I have met many people who I would call leaders and visionaries).

Leadership is about having the courage to do what is right for the long-term, no matter the prevailing views. Abraham Lincoln led the country into war based on a belief that was not widely agreed with, and that was revolutionary for his time. One example from this region that comes to mind is King Faisal’s decision to allow for female education in Saudi Arabia at a time when the idea was widely opposed. But in today’s Middle East I find little political cheer, particularly in countries that have been touched by the Arab Spring.

My question is simple. When will we have the leaders that we deserve to take us into a future that is brighter than yesterday? For the sake of future generations, we need an acceptance of diversity, of tolerance and an understanding that our differences make us stronger, and not weaker.

About the writer:

A British national with Arabic roots, Alex has spent ten years in the Gulf and has lived in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. Alex lost his heart to journalism years ago but he has worked with a range of multinational companies in the technology, energy and financial sector to develop their marketing and communications approach to the region. He’s currently based in Dubai but can often be found at Dubai International Airport flying back home to Bahrain or some other (hopefully exotic) destination.

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