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H.E. Hala Badri

Her Excellency Hala Badri is the Director General of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. We spoke to Hala about The DNA of Dubai.

Image Credit:  Emiel Molenaar via Unsplash.

Caitlin Morrissey

What do you see as the DNA of Dubai, and what are some of the city’s key traits and attributes?


Hala Badri

So it's really a question that I've been waiting for, honestly, because seriously, at some point, I really wanted to look at what makes Dubai different, and I wanted to look at nation branding and how nation branding is used to promote cities and to help it rank with its competitiveness and indexes.


For me, Dubai has a lot of traits and attributes that made it what it is today. I would like to start with maybe a few 'I's if you don't mind. I for inspiration, and that comes from our leadership. I think we have been blessed with leadership that's been visionary, a leadership that's been ambitious, a leadership that's been open-minded, a leadership that's always put, let's say, the wellbeing of its people in front of it and before everything else, a leadership that has been listening to its people always and trying to improve things for the society in general and for its people in general, a leadership that has looked at international benchmarks and seen where they are and how can we get there, a leadership that has been always open to trial and errors and also saying there is nothing called impossible in its dictionary. So, inspiration is one.


The other thing is inclusion. I think one of the very important traits of Dubai is that it has included everyone. It has looked at the requirements of everyone that's been living on its land, whether those are individuals, and considering their ethnicities, backgrounds, religious beliefs. Requirements from the perspective: if you think about a business perspective, what are the requirements, looking at its business ethics, looking at governance and improving that, looking at facilitating and making it easier for, whether they are local businesses or international businesses, to come and set up here? Inclusion from the perspective that we are more than 190 nationalities living in Dubai, yet we are all living in harmony. We work with each other. I've been to school with different nationalities. I've never felt that there was a difference between us and them. There was no vocabulary of us and them in my upbringing, neither from a family values perspective and neither from the institutions that I've been in, so whether that was school, or it was college or it was studying abroad or even from a working environment. So, inclusion is the other one.


I think innovation is very important. And the strive for innovation - I think that's a very important word - that Dubai has always tried to put itself in the forefront of innovation. So whatever is happening, whatever is new out there, it wants to grab it, it wants to explore it and try to use it to progress the city in many different aspects. So, innovation is the third one.


We've spoken about inspiration, inclusion, innovation. What else? Integration. I think the integration of systems, of industries, of networks coming together to do the best, I think, for me, that is very important, making sure that there is things working with each other in conjunction with each other to progress certain elements of the city, whether that's infrastructure, whether that's, you know, making sure that the KPIs are also cross leverage so that something moves forward.


I think one of the very important, maybe-- I wouldn't call it DNA’s, but the things that Dubai did is that to make sure that it actually understands its geographic location and its identity to progress things. Identity is another I, but if I look at infrastructure - maybe that's another I that we might want to consider - what Dubai did and what our sheikhs or leaders did from His Highness, Sheikh Rashid, the late Sheikh Rashid, to today is that it built the right logistics systems around it: so the best ports, the best airports, the best carriers. This has enabled us to reach out into an eight-hour-travel, basically, diameter and reach out to the world. It made it so much easier for people to come and stop. So basically, the trade routes has always been considered, making it easier logistically for things to be cargoed in and out of Dubai, using the different infrastructure and logistics system that is there.


The last I, from my perspective, is identity. Although we have been open and we have been very welcoming to different ideologies, we have always managed to keep our identity, more so, maybe, than a lot of the, let's say, regional entities and also global entities. So, yes, we opened up for globalization, we opened up for new ideologies, but I think we stuck to our roots and identities when it comes to religion, when it comes to our traditions, when it comes to what we believe in as values, the set of values that has been instilled within us. And the latest, I think, document that His Highness put forward is the eight principles. It's looking at our society and what are the eight principles that drives us, whether that's again, inclusion, whether that's openness, whether that's making Dubai the land of talent.


So, we've always been-- and I think this is, again, another trait that our leadership has-- we've never been afraid to share our resources, we've never been afraid to share our land, we've never been afraid of sharing the jobs because we believe in the formula of 'one for all and all for one'. And I think this is something that the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed also mentioned that everyone's fate and everyone's-- don't know what to call it, but your givings or what you get is actually written for you. So, we always believe that it's for the good of all to include all. And that's an important thing.


I think I've covered everything that I wanted to cover in terms of trades, in terms of what is important and what differentiates Dubai. Competitiveness has always driven Dubai and wanting to be, I wouldn't say the biggest and the tallest, but I think it's providing the DNA that makes everyone happy, whether you're living or you want to visit Dubai. And I think that's what differentiates Dubai from everyone else.


Greg Clark

Hala, thank you so much. These thoughts are very inspiring. I want to ask you, if I may, about three elements in what you said. So one of them is the geographic location. I'm also interested how you think the climate and the geography and the terrain has contributed to Dubai's uniqueness. Obviously, we're talking about a hot location, we're talking about a desert location, we're talking about the proximity to water, we're talking about the importance of the creek. I'd love to know what you think about those elements, as it were, the natural elements of the topography. And then I just wanted to encourage you to say a little bit more about the Emirati people because you said something very important about values and religion and tradition and hospitality and combining that with modernity, but it occurs to me that the Emirati people are amongst the most ancient people in the whole world, so it's quite important to understand what it is from Emirati culture that is so distinctive. If you could talk about those two. Then I'm going to ask you about your day job, which is about cultural production, of course. But can we talk a little bit about this climate and environment and then about the Emirati people?


Hala Badri

So if we look at the climate of the Emirates or if we take Dubai, so, yes, we've got the desert; we've got the sea. So there is the land, the life on land, and there is the life at the sea as well. The actual location of Dubai being kind of central and having that creek that connects people and allows for that trade and what the government of Dubai did to actually develop that creek and make it easier for ins and out of people, that's a very important story to say.


So, let's look at the elements of the geography. So, you've got the desert; you've got the mountains in Hatta. So that's why you've got the people of the desert, you've got the people of the mountains, and you've got the people of the oases as well, and that's something that a lot of people overlook, the system of the Falaj, which is the irrigation system that has been there for thousands of years, by the way. There is proof that it's been an irrigation system that's been there for maybe 3000 BC or 2000 BC. So, the oases, the desert, the sea and the mountains has all basically created different types of people within this emirate.


You've got the people of the sea who have depended on trade and traveling. If you look at the trade route in ancient times, we've got a very distinctive trade route. And we know this because of the artefacts that have been found across the UAE and in Dubai from the Tombs in Al Qusais to, basically, what was more recently discovered of the Bronze Age in Saruq Al Hadid, which the logo of Expo 2020 is based on one of the artefacts that was found there. So if you look at that, you will find that these have been-- if I want to trace it and if I want to theorize this, honestly, people of Dubai have been tradespeople.


They have been ambitious people. They've travelled because you could, again, prove this through the artefacts that have been found through the roots of the sea, through the roots of the land. Because if you look at the location of Saruq Al Hadid, where you find a lot of metalwork that has been found there, it's in the middle of the desert. There is no way people had travelled to that area through the sea or whatever, so that means they also had a lot of cattle herding; they had a lot of other means of transport. So desert people, sea people, oases people - we know that from the irrigation - and then you've got the mountains people. All of this topography has helped the people of Dubai and the people of the UAE to travel and explore. And again, we know this because there is proof, there is physical proof that they travelled because we've got artefacts from India, from Iran or Persia and from China, from silk to perfumes to spices that has been going there.


So the topography has basically-- topography has pulled and also has pushed people to go and explore, from trading in pearls to boat-making - a skill that's also part of our culture - to creating means for survival from fishing to, you know, creating arrowheads that are found, again, in the Bronze Age. So we've also been people who have been on the move. It would have been people who've been competitive, who've been ambitious, who have been going out there and exploring and also bringing people.


So this is not something that was built in the late-1800s or the early-1900s; this is something that has been within the DNA from 3000 BC. This is what I believe, honestly, from looking at historical artefacts and reconstructing what people did in those times. So we've had the four elements: green oases, , the irrigation system, and having these oases; the desert people, nomadic people who have moved around and discovered things, who have moved around the sources of water; and then you've got the people who have lived by the sea and have had their, basically, interaction and the life on sea. And all of this has actually impacted them culturally: so you've got the songs of the sea, you've got the songs of the land, the nomadic people, and you've got the songs of the mountain.


All of this has created or culminated in cultural, basically, behaviour, which takes us to the Emirati people and the culture of the Emirati people and the identity of the Emirati people. This is something that we've been looking at as well: what makes the Emirati people and specifically, the Dubai people different? I go back to some of the DNAs that has been instilled in them because of their geographic location, because of the nature of the land itself and also, because of the leadership and what the leadership has tried to instil within us.


From a leadership perspective, we have always been people of peace, but we have been people of trade and ambition and competitiveness, and we have been people of values. I would say generosity marks the Emirati people, I would say, mutual respect of other cultures, ethnicities, what they believe in. We truly explore, but we do not criticise. This is very important from what our leaders and what our values try to instil us. We explore and we respect what other people have, but we also preserve our own identity and culture.


I think the Emirati people-- if I may tell you a story that one of the ministers told me. And I think they were on a trip abroad, and I think they were waiting in a food queue, and there was one guy that kept giving his spot to the next person. And somebody told him, you must be Emirati, because we have that, also, sacrifice in a good way; not sacrifice in a bad way that we allow people to take our rights, but sacrifice in a really good way that encourages-- I don't want to call it brotherhood, but that encourages bonding and reduces the cultural gaps between people. And this is also something that our leaders encourage. This is why they encourage us to learn the languages of other people, to understand the cultures of other people because we truly believe that we come together by basically reducing that cultural gap and understanding other cultures. And I think Dubai has that and has had that for, maybe, years. And this is why I think it's the place where you can explore different cuisines, you can explore different nationalities, arts, you can explore different nationalities, cultures, and we kind of like that.


I always give the story that I've always grown up-- I grew up with different nationalities always, so I cannot imagine and maybe-- I don't know if I would be politically correct or not correct, but I can never imagine a UAE without other nationalities and other people because we really grew up with them, and we really worked with them to build what we have here in Dubai and in the UAE in general. And our leadership appreciates those people who have helped build and who have helped educate us and who have helped, basically, take us to the next level. We really appreciate that, and we are very thankful that we have welcomed these different nationalities. And maybe this is what makes our DNA distinct: that we have actually interacted and allowed other people to help us shape our country as well.


Greg Clark

Hala, this is the most brilliant description I have ever heard of the Emirati DNA and its relationship with the city.


Hala Badri

Thank you.


Greg Clark

It seems to me that there's a part of what you're saying that is that the Emirati people, because of this 5,000-year history, at least, if not the 150,000 years before with the establishment-- the discovery of the oasis and then the establishment of the society has created a deep psychological character: a character of curiosity, of openness, of peacefulness but also a character of collaboration, a character of willing to combine these aspects of open-mind to the world with a strong sense of hospitality, generosity, solidarity, graciousness, which creates a really unique society. And when that society urbanises in a place like Dubai, it becomes a very distinctive kind of city because it combines those 5,000-year, 150,000-year ideals but in an urban form; and therefore, it's very productive. I'm so grateful to you because it really is the best articulation I've ever heard, and I have asked a few people this question.


Caitlin Morrissey

I have to agree with Greg. This is truly incredible. The next question we had was about how Dubai is distinctive from other peers in its region. What are your thoughts on that?


Hala Badri

So I always ask myself, if I was given a choice to live somewhere else, I would always say, no, it would always be Dubai. And I think if you ask the population, I think probably 99% of them will agree and that Dubai is the city that I want to live in. I think what makes it distinctive, when you look at its peers, is that Dubai has always been in the race of making sure that we have the best of everything. So today, when the pandemic hit, and we were asked to go online, it was a very smooth, basically, journey. I was worried. I've always worked for the semi-private or private sector, and the last year and a half was my first encounter to be serving at a government level. And I was really worried. But you know what? It was amazing that in two weeks, we managed to completely move to online and not miss out anything, including having virtual tours of our museums, including, you know, being able to communicate with over 70 entities and people through online platforms, to understand what are their, basically, needs to make sure that they live through the pandemic. And the government responded so fast, so fast. Funding? Yes, we will provide funding. Ease of business and moving online? Yes, come on. Everyone worked with each other and make it so easy for people to migrate from brick and mortar to online so that there is continuation.


And the story that I want to say here or the evidence of what I want to say, basically, is that what makes Dubai distinct is that it has a fast response rate. So we look at what's happening, and we look at what our people want, and we look at the gaps, and we respond quickly. We don't wait for years to make something happen. So this is very important. And what this immediately does is that it raises the satisfaction level. So this is why I want to live in Dubai. Because when there is an issue, there is a very fast response rate. There is a very fast response from the leadership to fix it.


And one of the things is that the leadership in Dubai wants the people to be happy. And for the people to be happy, it means we have to have the right systems, we have to have the right ethics, we have to have the right governance systems in place, we have to have the right audit mechanisms in place so that what we are actually reporting is real. It's not just like, you know, just a survey that goes out, and 'yes, we are all happy'. No, it is actually tested. We have a lot of mystery shoppers that looks at the reality of these, basically, surveys and the results of these surveys. So response rate is excellent. I think Dubai has always looked out for how to make the city friendly in all aspects.


So I am in arts and culture, and one of the mandates I have is to make Dubai an arts-friendly city. And when it says an arts-friendly city, it may look broad, but honestly, it's very easy to make it art-friendly city because today, it's just looking at what are the principles that are in place, what are the laws that are in place, what are the policies in place, what are the regulations, and basically, we go and present to government saying we want to do one, two, three, four. And the government is always on your side when you want to make it better for people. And it doesn't only mean our people but also people from outside. So for me, it's the response rate or how fast the government responds to a need of the people, a need of the businesses and a need of the society. This is very important. From an infrastructure perspective, I think that's very important.


So if you look at our roads, for example, just a simple thing-- you look at the roads, and you see they're always clean, they're always easy. There're always being changes so that it makes the people happier when they want to go from A to B. That is always looked after, for example. If you look at our water and electricity, for example, we're always looking at what is best. We're not just saying, “ we'll make water and electricity the best it is”, but we look at different energy. What are the different ways that we can, basically, ensure that in 10 years’ time or in 50 years’ time, our children are in a good place environmentally, for example?


And all of this-- the 50 years ahead, what will happen 50 years from now? The city has put in place the centennial goals and it's working towards that from now. And honestly, it's no joke. It's not just putting up slogans. No, we actually are requested to work and put plans together and take them to government and say, 'when it comes to culture, what are my plans for the next 50 years? How am I going to contribute differently so that the generation to come--' and these are my kids and their kids. Is it a city that is ready to basically fulfil the ambitions and fulfil the needs of this generation to come? So that's what makes us, also, distinct. And I think, again, the openness: openness of our city to ideologies, to people, to ideas, to innovation. I think that's what's made us very, also, distinct.


And the last thing I want to say is that I think the UAE has been very different. And again, I don't know how to say this being politically correct. The UAE has really been different, and Dubai, specifically, has really been different-- is that it did not take the oil as a sole, basically, you know, source of income; it diversified. And if you take Dubai, and specifically Dubai, Dubai really, really diversified. It looked at other growth models. It looked at a diversified source of economy, and it continues to do so. So every time there is something new, whether it's technology, AI, creative industries, it keeps, basically, looking at new sources of income. And I think the UAE-- if you look at all the neighbouring countries, they all had oil, but I think the UAE was very smart in making sure that it uses the oil for the right, basically, growth economies models.


Greg Clark

This is very clear, Hala, and I think that-- I mean, there's so many things in here that are interesting, but again, it reinforces what you already said about this curiosity, this willingness to embrace change and how this deep psychological confidence marries with this amazing openness. I think it's fascinating.


Caitlin Morrissey

I'll ask the question now about inventions and discoveries in Dubai now. From culinary to arts to culture, any way you want to interpret it, are there any inventions that stand out as being proudly Dubai-made?


Hala Badri

So honestly, it's very difficult to say because we always come up with something that is different. But let's look at the Palm Jumeirah, for example, as an island. We said we don't have-- we only have 50 metres of, let's say-- or 50 kilometres of coastal, basically, area and beaches. And then our government goes and creates another I don't know how many kilometres of beach area and coastal, basically, access. For me, I think creating that manmade, basically, island, for me that's just wow. And if you think about it, when it was first out, it was a big wow factor for us. But now that you actually look at it and you look at the discoveries and you look at the new projects that have come out there, for me, it's like, now, maybe the Palm doesn't look as exciting, especially after the mission to Mars, for example, a project looking at the tallest building, for example, and the engineering behind that. For me, these are basically things that makes us very distinct, in terms of, let's say-- I wouldn't call them inventions, but I think they're distinct projects that makes Dubai distinct and makes people to look at Dubai and say, "Wow, how can we do that?"


We are always looking for a solution that is outside the box, continuously looking for projects that puts us ahead not only of the Arab world but also of the global, basically-- the globe itself. There are projects that are small in nature sometimes, but they're really, really amazing. I would like to speak about education here because I think the investment that has happened in education and higher education and research, for me, is phenomenal. From day one, there has been a very big stress on investing in people, and our leadership has really made sure that we've got the best education, free education. It's always been free and also, free health, access to health, and I think that plays a major role in us being able to pursue, to find new inventions and new discoveries. It's more about what takes us there than it's what's out there. For me, it's a difficult question, but at the same time, I think it all stems in the education and the research and looking at benchmarks that leads to new ideas and new innovations and new discoveries.


Dubai is always inventing, Dubai's always discovering, and it's always surprising us with new projects that we never thought we could do. So the slogan of 'impossible is nothing' has basically become a DNA now. Every time we say, can we do this, everyone reminds us, you know-- our government says impossible is nothing, and we have to pursue the ideas and pursue the dreams that we have. So I think it's a land of dreams. It's a land of opportunities, possibilities for people. And it is just because that we don't say no; we just say, yes, let's try it and let's make it better. That allows us to discover new things.


I don't know if you guys have been-- and this is a very simple idea. I don't know if you guys have been to the Miracle Garden in Dubai, but for me, it's like having a miracle garden with so much plantations and flowers that are created in the manner that they are, for me, that's a new discovery: that we can actually grow things that does not have to be seasonal, that's there all year round. And that, for me, is a wonder honestly.


Greg Clark

Yes. Hala, I wonder if, just building upon something you said before, whether things like the historic construction of this unique irrigation system or the dredging of the creek to create the possibility both for irrigation and also for creating a port have led to a kind of constant discovery and reinvention agenda that has-- as you say, it's not one thing that Dubai has invented; it's almost invented the idea of constant reinvention as a city. Does that make sense from where you see it?


Hala Badri

I love the way you put it, Professor Clark, when you say constantly reinventing itself. I've had friends, I've had professors at college, who've been here ten years ago and then five years ago and then one year ago, and they say Dubai is constantly changing. So I think that's the most accurate and beautiful way, that you've put it, that it constantly reinvents itself, and it does that because it's always not satisfied with the status quo. It always wants to be the best it can in everything from people satisfaction to technology to, you know, infrastructure, you name it.


I was at the JaiTech's exhibition last week, and I was looking at the government, basically, pavilions and the things that they want to bring to serve the people and the society. And I want to give an example of DEWA, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, and they had a lot of futuristic kind of, you know, services there. And I was looking at it, and I was asking them every time, "Is this already available?" And they were like, "Yeah, we are already using it." And I was thinking, "Oh, my God. Like, these people always outdo themselves." And I'm only giving to you as an example, but if you look at other government entities-- and the reason it is competitive is because the leadership pushes the government entities to be more competitive.


Honestly, I used to work for the private sector, and you'd think that the private sector is always ahead of government. I would definitely say that in Dubai-- and the reason I left the private sector and moved to government is because I saw that the government sector is moving much faster than the private sector. And the reason it's doing that is because there is always this reinvention in government: a rotation of people, rotation of jobs, rotation of responsibilities that always is bringing fresh ideas.


And I think one important thing that we need to recognise for Dubai and the UAE is that it believes in the youth, and this is why there is always fresh ideas, new ideas. It really empowers the youth to come up with what is required because I think the government uses the youth as a sounding board to design the city and also to design it in a way that it keeps changing so that it goes with the trends of what is required, but not so much in a way that it actually disregards what it has built. So everything that it's built, it keeps building on, but it keeps, also, renewing itself because there is changing needs of the youth. And we listen to them. We really do listen to them, and we really empower them. And this is why we have the Youth Council and we have a minister for the youth that is working very closely now with the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of-- not the ministry, but the media, basically, institutions to make sure that we really are doing the changes for them because they will represent our future in the next hundreds or thousands of years to come.

Caitlin Morrissey

What does the future hold for Dubai and how will its DNA play a role in shaping that?


Hala Badri

So I think the future will continue to remain bright. I think the future is going to look a little bit more ambitious and more competitive. I think our new generations and our youth will play a very big role in shaping that future because we've already got the listening tools, so we're listening to them, and we are adjusting and reinventing for them. I think Dubai will continue to outdo itself through, I wouldn't say new discoveries, but through new projects that are global in nature. It is no longer, for us, what's happening in the region, but it's what's happening in the globe. Just yesterday, there was a launch of a huge campaign from the UAE, led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, to encourage internal tourism. And just by doing that, just by just putting that thought out there, people are already racing to see how they can change their agenda so that they can actually support that.


The future, as I said, we are designing the next 50 years for the UAE and probably the next 100 years and that's why we've got the centennial goals. The future is that we are co-designing. I don't think anyone in the world invited their people and their institutions to design their next 50 years. We were encouraged through government authorities, through the private sector to go and ask the people what they want for the next 50 years. So this co-design is a very important element of-- or that I see is shaping the DNA of Dubai. And co-designing does not stop at only what the city should look like, but it's with our laws, policies, what our identity should be. And we're co-designing this not only as Emiratis, but we're actually co-designing with people who are coming from outside the UAE to help shape that. And this is what will make Dubai really different and distinctive. Because we don't design as what only our people want, but we design with other people's views and through other lenses. And this is what I think will make us a little bit more different because we're not just putting in our basket what we want. It's what a global city or a real city should be, that would be desirable by everyone to be visited, to be working for, to be part of that design that makes it very different. So the future, I think, holds a lot of possibilities if we continue with this way of working, with this dialogue that happens between the leadership, the people, the authorities.


I think the future holds a lot of, I would say, positivity because that is something that our leadership has trained us to do, is always remain positive, always be open to ideas, to open to ideologies, to different people. And I think this is what will make us very different from other cities around the world.


Caitlin Morrissey

Thank you so much. And our very final question is, if we were to have asked you the right question, would there have been anything else that you would have wanted to say about the DNA of Dubai?


Hala Badri

I think we basically covered everything. I think the most important thing is that Dubai and the UAE have invested in the people, and I think the DNA of any city or any country should be measured by how sophisticated the people are, how healthy, how educated, how happy they are. And I think the leadership has done that for us. If I take my track record of free education: school, free, education and university, free, education, postgraduate university. The government has always, when it sees an ambition, when it sees a person who really wants to make a difference, they take that person under their wings, and they invest in it, and they give us those opportunities.


And then the jobs that I have also been in, whether it's been in the oil and gas industry then move to a dynamic telco industry and then, now, move to the government sector, I think trying out, also, these different entities, be it the government or the private sector, I've always seen that even if you are in the private sector, the government will look out for you. The government will see where the talents are, and this is why we have a lot of leadership programs that have been designed by the government of Dubai and also the government of the UAE.


So we do it at a local level, but we also do it at a federal level. So we've created this pool of talents of the next generation, and these people have been earmarked. They're being built so that they can take on new responsibilities and new, basically, areas of science or whatever it is. So I think if there is anything that makes us distinct is investing in the person and in what builds or makes a successful society and therefore, a successful city and therefore, a successful country. It's building on the values of that person and the needs of that person.


And that's, I think, what makes us distinct, and what the late Sheikh Saeed said, or even our other leaders, is that we invest in people before place. And I think that basically summarizes it all from my end.


Greg Clark

It's very, very exciting, Hala, if I may say. And you've really focused on really critical ingredients in this conversation. And Caitlin and I are very, very grateful. It seems to me that, listening to you, there's a very exciting chapter beginning for Dubai because, you know, with COVID-19, Dubai's existing commitment to health, wellbeing and happiness is going to be a real advantage. All of the reforms that are happening in visas, in investment opportunities, enterprise systems is very exciting. The hosting of the World Expo is an amazing opportunity to tell the Dubai story. But also, I think, interesting things like the new bilateral arrangements with Israel and the new corridor emerging with Saudi, these are very interesting new dynamics in the region which I think can play to Dubai's strengths. So it's a very interesting time, isn't it? I hope that you're happy to be in the job you're in at this moment.


Hala Badri

I am, Greg. And you know what? I receive a PDF version of our local paper every morning, and, you know, page after page of positive stories. And I know that sometimes you need to also focus on the reality, and the reality is there for everyone to see through different channels of media. But what I really love about Dubai is that we focus on positive stories, and positive stories breed positive opportunities. So that DNA, that mentality of positivity that our leadership has, and our people have always attracts positive opportunities to us.


And I don't know if you've read the book The Secret? The Secret is basically on the law of attraction, of positivity. So the more positive you are, you attract more positive opportunities, and I think that's a formula that has worked beautifully for Dubai. Our media is always focusing on the positive stories, and this, in itself, has a psychological effect on us; it has an impact on us. "Oh, my God, this is positive. This is positive, so what can I do to also contribute to this positive story?" And this is what I've noticed, honestly, in over 20 years of experience of working for the government of Dubai, through the government sector or through the private sector, is that it's always been positive, and everyone wants to be in that train of positivity rather than complaining about things; although, there are complaints. But what is beautiful is that these complaints are always met with quick actions to resolve them. And this is why, again, I would say if there is anywhere that I could live, it would always be Dubai. I would never change that no matter what.

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