Flashes of Thought: Lessons in life and leadership from the man behind Dubai by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

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Flashes of Thought: Lessons in life and leadership from the man behind Dubai by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

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Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Concise, thought-provoking and very readable: they reward looking under the surface of what is said.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: March 2015
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN: 978-1781255032

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At the beginning of the 20th century Dubai was a small port town, home to traders, fishermen and pearl divers and it was here that Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum was born in 1949 in a house with no electricity or running water. He's now the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai. It's his vision and driving force which is behind the transformation of Dubai into a major global city, tourist destination and trading centre. When you have regard to the unrest and volatility in much of the Middle East, what has been achieved in Dubai is extraordinary and the opportunity to read Sheikh Mohammed's thoughts on governance, leadership and life was not one to be passed up lightly, particularly as he's not a man to give interviews very often.

The format is simple and user friendly: thirty five thoughts on various topics with each lasting for just two or three pages. His Highness is an acknowledged poet in his native Arabic and every word in this book earns its keep - there's no flim flam of mere cerebration to pad out the pages. I easily fell into the 'I'll just read one more' habit and I would have finished the book in one sitting had it not been for the fact that a lot of what was said was thought provoking. Superficially each of the thoughts is compelling, but they all reward further examination.

I did feel a touch of scepticism creeping in when I read the first thought - Simplicity - where he speaks of prayers, breakfasting with the family, biking or horse riding in the desert, lunching with friends and walking on the beach, as the thought crept into my mind that it's easier for a rich man to live a simple life than for a man (or woman) who is struggling to make ends meet, hold a family together or cope with other hardships. But the basic point holds good - it's a mistake to over-complicate life. Similarly - and later in the book - he's a strong advocate of eating sensibly and certainly not to excess, as well as taking regular exercise, even if it's only walking.

So far as business and governance is concerned he's an advocate of getting things done, of having a wide vision and creativity - and rewarding it in others. This is, of course, easier when you are the head of a family business, your family have ruled the Emirate since 1833 and you are an absolute monarch: democratic government and public companies create their own restrictions - whether you are in favour of the concepts or not. Once again though - the principles are sound. Why prevaricate when an action can do good?

The Sheikh's vision is constantly expanding to the point where he's actually achieving a lower percentage of it as time goes by, despite pressing forward, and his thoughts do motivate. They're all based in a deep respect for his religion and love of his country along with a sense of personal responsibility. Occasionally I had to remind myself that he was speaking in the context of an Arab country and that when he spoke of such things as having moved beyond the phase of empowering women this is a country where Sharia Law applies and that it is not - perhaps - what women in a western culture would recognise as empowerment.

Read the book - it's thought-provoking and motivating, but it also rewards further exploration. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more thoughts on how to get things done we can recommend Get Things Done: What Stops Smart People Achieving More and How You Can Change by Robert Kelsey. If you need help on making better decisions, have a look at Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

Buy Flashes of Thought: Lessons in life and leadership from the man behind Dubai by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Flashes of Thought: Lessons in life and leadership from the man behind Dubai by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Flashes of Thought: Lessons in life and leadership from the man behind Dubai by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Flashes of Thought: Lessons in life and leadership from the man behind Dubai by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Amazon.com.

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