The parallels are of Sheikh Mohammad are drawn with King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia who used oil to build the foundation of modern Saudi Arabia. He can also be considered a CEO who is managing his emirate like a big company using the modern management principles. He is using the principles of modern participatory management as he does not confine himself to boardrooms or high power meetings and actually visits workplace and construction sites. He is also known to make tough decision on the spot by rewarding employees for good work while also firing poor performers. Another important aspect of Sheikh's policy is encouragement of women workforce. He not only hires women but also encourages them to go ahead in their career ambitions while also bringing along more women in all business fields. He is also known to be a staunch supporter of foreign educated locals. He encourages these modern and educated individuals to curb the forces of red tapism. He has a vision for his emirate and he also knows how to make others feel the same vision.
Dubai has created its advantage by creating the most dynamic business environments in the world. This has not happened only because of buildings, islands and hotels; they in fact facilitated all necessary requirements of a good business environment. The requirements provided by UAE and Dubai include laws & regulations, no corporate & income taxes, property & ownership rules and last but not the least the liberal social environment. Now Dubai Stock Exchange is going to make waves in the world's stock market."The new Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX), expects to open its door to issuers and investors of any nationality. The new bourse will offer settlement / clearing facilities and corporate governance standards on par with prime exchanges, notably New York, London and Tokyo. It will target potential issuers in the UAE, other GCC states, Levant, North Africa, Turkey and India. Steffen Schubert, chief executive of DIFX, explained:;Our role is to allow companies an alternative to listing in Europe or the U.S. And to list on a market that is in the same time zone'" (Siddiqi, 2005).
The Israel Model
Israel is the only Jewish state surrounded by Arab nations in the Middle East. Unlike other Arab countries in the region Israel's competitive advantage lies in its home grown & multi-billion dollar arms industry. Israel's arms industry is the most technologically advanced in the Middle East. Israel offers its clients a wide range of defense products; small arms, light armor and practical equipment refinements, complete major weapons systems and defense equipments. They have not only developed these systems but they also continue to upgrade packages. Israel's defense ministry exports most of its equipment to a world market. They cater to USA, Australia, UK, Croatia and South Korea & South American markets. Israel has also maintained successful business relationship with Turkey in the realm of arms supply. Not only arms but Israel has also made its name in space technology. "Israel's defense industry also put that country into the space age - its aerospace companies, who cut their teeth on defense contracts, made Israel in 1990 only the 8th country in the world to launch its own satellite of indigenous design and manufacture (Offeq), using its own launcher (an indigenous Israeli Aircraft Industries three-stage rocket, Shavit). Israel has become one of the world's top 10 defense manufacturing nations by volume; its defense industry is the largest manufacturing employer in the country and now the biggest single earner of industrial exports" (Smith, 1997).
Marketing skills & a lead in technology are clearly the competitive plus points of Israel. Among other advantages Israel has also been credited for nurturing a democracy in its country as Israel is one of the few states in the Middle East allowing democratic election of government. However at same time Israel has been criticized for its unhealthy relations with most of its neighbors. Human rights organizations continue to blame Israel for its violations in the Palestinian territory. Amidst tension there is always this hope that relations of Israel will continue to improve with the countries of the region shift from tension and conflict to economic competition. Peace and amiable relationships are prerequisites if Israeli products seek to have a serious edge, or penetration in surrounding states' markets.
In business branding strategies are adopted to succeed in the competitive business environment. The brand is not just marketed as a product that provides benefits and fulfills needs but efforts are made to adopt strategies to make it a long-term success. Similarly nations become brands in the global environment and states and governments make efforts to gain competitive edge. The success of the region depended not only on the development of a strong financial & banking and telecommunication sectors but the portrayal of a softy image was also necessary which they achieved by encouraging tourism.
Middle East destinations like Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Morocco and Tunisia have always been known for tourist attractions all over the world for all kinds of tourists. Foreign visitors when visiting a country for the sake of traveling then they also bring along their foreign currency. Apart from the a few countries most Gulf States remained unconcerned with the tourists. Regional governments preferred business travelers but they did not give any importance of tourist development within Gulf States in particular. Attracting pleasure tourism was the least of concern for the region. Business travelers from Paris, London or New York came to Gulf only for business purposes and did not bother to stay back and always looked out for the first plane to home. Tourist visas were also difficult to obtain for the region. "While destinations such as Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have long been popular with foreign holidaymakers, the delights of certain Gulf states have remained largely unknown to the vast majority of people outside the region. However, over recent years this situation has been changing and will continue to do so as more ambitious and expensive promotional campaigns find a growing audience in Europe and the United States. Recent years have seen a growing sense of fascination with countries that were previously only regarded as venues where big business was conducted. Saudi Arabia, although not yet opening its doors to a wide spectrum of visitors attracts more than a million Muslim pilgrims" (Lancaster, 1995).
Business visitors bring new technology or foreign goods and services with them and their prolonged stay is definitely beneficial to the long-term & sustainable development & progress of the region. Various trades flourish when a country or region opens itself to the world. When Gulf region in particular emerged as the most lucrative market in the world Islamic states & conservative governments relaxed their strict moral codes. These states created a cosmopolitan atmosphere with elements like golf, sailing, water sports, tennis, dining, dancing and cabaret etc.
Transformations started with Bahrain and Dubai with relaxation in laws and codes such as consumption of alcohol Doha, Dhahran & Dubai started experiencing a new wave of change as they underwent economic diversification to reduce dependency on oil. Bahrain and Kuwait also opened up & their banking and finance industries developed. Qatar with world's largest known natural gas fields also realized the importance of developing a tourist industry. This change not only benefited foreigners but different Arabs also started exploring these new territories for relaxation for example families from Saudi Arabia would also cross over in Bahrain. Today even most closed countries like Oman has opened its doors to tourism. The country developed the infrastructure and also has one of the world's most opulent hotels like deluxe Al Bustan Palace. Gulf Air, Emirates, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, and Saudi Airlines along with European and North American carriers move all over the world
Iraq & Iran are two important countries which are not using a tourist strategy to get an advantage. Iraq obviously is not a destination for anyone due to law & order situation. However, Iran still has a strict code of behavior that it adopted when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. Today, the majority of the Arab countries in the Middle East are trying to play their tourist strategy card not just to attract tourist but at the same time development of business. Ambitious development and industrialization programs are supported by tourist programs that allow access to foreigners to explore regions of extreme beauty. Gulf States and Dubai model in particular today show how tourism can boost the business environment. Tourism therefore, can definitely be considered an important strategy in creating a competitive advantage.
Development of Banking & Financial Sector
Banking & financial sector is considered a backbone of growth and development of any country. Middle East has been growing very fast with many economies booming resulting in tremendous opportunities in private and investment banking. In its plan to stay ahead in the competitive world market the region realized importance of developing its banking…