IT WAS in 1994 that Mubarak Bin Fahad, who was then with the Government of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, bagged the coveted
HH Sheikh Rashid Award for Academic Excellence and set out on the road to success.
Ten years down the line, as director general, Dubai World Trade Centre, he crossed another milestone award when he bagged the Best Middle East CEO of the Year recently. And, this time, it was none other than the late Sheikh Rashid’s grandson – HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone – who handed the prestigious award to him.
Not surprising then that Bin Fahad will always treasure the moment and the award. “I don’t have enough words to thank HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance & Industry, UAE, for entrusting me with the responsibility of running the DWTC,” he told TTN. “I am confident that this award will only spur me to perform even better.”
He added, “As a professional, I have always lived by certain key values and believe that innovation is one of them because, in the corporate world, one must constantly seek to innovate and to stay ahead of the competition. I also believe that life is an unending process of learning and each day brings its own lessons.”
Not surprising then that the award recommendation for him said ‘exceptional’ is the only the word for the achievements made by the DWTC under Bin Fahad. Known for his leadership style and his hands-on approach, Bin Fahad has played no small role in establishing the DWTC as the premier venue for exhibitions, meetings and conferences in the Middle East.
Armed with a post-graduate MBA in Strategic Management from Birmingham and a Bachelor of Science from Northeastern University, Boston, Bin Fahad belongs to the new breed of business leaders from the UAE determined to make their mark. Since taking over as DG of the DWTC in November 2002, Bin Fahad has improved upon the most enduring brand in the UAE, constantly adding value to ensure the best exhibition facility in the Middle East.
Among others, he has been responsible for the global promotion of the Dubai International Convention Centre (DICC) to attract MICE business and make every exhibition organised by the DWTC a success. “We are now seeking to capitalise on the strength of the DWTC brand and focusing on the international market as part of a drive to promote the DICC and attract MICE business to Dubai,” he added.
So what are the challenges before him? “There are a series of challenges involved in enhancing our market share in all lines of business and to establish the DWTC brand internationally,” Bin Fahad replied. “The DWTC has been dominating the Middle East market for over two decades now, however, the DICC is a new entity. As the host venue, we have already made an international impression with the staging of the World Bank/IMF meeting last year. But competition in the MICE (Meetings, Incen-tives, Conference and Exhibition) industry is really fierce and we are trying to create essential aware-ness about DICC in key markets internationally.”
Talking of competition in the international arena, he said that Dubai is aiming to be among the best cities in the world for meetings. “Our efforts would be directed towards being counted among the top meetings destinations alongside Vienna, Seoul, London, Paris, Sydney and Singapore among others,” Fahad said.
He explained: “ATM 2004 will offer an ideal platform to showcase what DWTC has to offer. We, at the DWTC, with our unique MICE related-product, aim to increase awareness of Dubai as a destination ie that it is not only unique and extremely attractive to tourists but also is an ideal and safe place to come and do business.”
However, far removed from the commercial angle, there is also a very humane side of how the DWTC chooses to do business. “The logic that a corporate entity should commit time and resources to a project only when it is financially feasible or quantifiable has an intrinsic flaw,” he pointed out.
“At the DWTC, we have made a concerted effort to be sensitive to the needs of the local community and the environment and have made meaningful contributions to local charities. More importantly, we have contributed organisational time and resources to events that serve to enhance our corporate standing in the local community. Among others, we have received a certificate of appreciation from HH Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi on behalf of the Dubai Autism Centre (DAC) in recognition of our efforts in facilitating the operations of the DAC. Besides, HH Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum has also presented us an award for our contribution to charitable and humanitarian works.”
Given his novel approach to life and doing business, Bin Fahad will surely win many more laurels – and awards – along the way.