Good luck or good judgement: How the UAE ensures its luck

19 Jan, 2023 - UAE Life & Economy

“The harder I practise, the luckier I get” is a well-known maxim from the golfing world that seems to have been attributed to both Gary Player and Arnold Palmer but actually seems to come from uncertain paternity (and not necessarily golf-related) at some point over the last 100 years.

Regardless of its provenance and whether applied in a sporting or other context, I’m sure it’s a sentiment that most of us recognise along the lines of ‘you make your own luck’.

When I heard a friend comment the other day that the UAE was ‘lucky’ with China’s post-Covid return to the world of tourism given the traveller inflows and related economic benefit that we can now expect to see here, I agreed but also thought this is a prime example of the UAE making its own luck: the UAE granted visa-free travel for Chinese passport holders in early 2018.

As such, the UAE is indeed fortunate to be the likely recipient of a renewed tourism influx from China and the beneficiary of three years’ pent up spend and demand, but it wouldn’t be happening if the UAE hadn’t had the foresight to reduce barriers and make travel between the countries more simple five years ago.

And the same principle applies elsewhere.

The fact that we were enjoying post-Covid life here many months (years, in comparison to China) before most of the rest of the world wasn’t down to the dice falling fortuitously, but rather that quick & decisive government actions firstly on lockdown and latterly on vaccinations allowed for normal life to return in the UAE much more quickly and seamlessly than elsewhere in the world.

Ditto Expo 2020 Dubai which was actually subject to the worst possible luck with the onset of the pandemic and the need to postpone by 12 months.  Its successful execution was a triumph of foresight, planning, delivery by the local authorities that overcame that original misfortune and then turned it to the whole enterprise’s advantage, with the event framed as the UAE’s and the world’s return to normal life.

Next time visitors remark on how fortunate you are to be living in the UAE, it might be worth reminding them that whilst we are indeed blessed with the sunshine, most of that perceived luck is actually hard-earned and the outcome of lots of persistence, planning and practice.

This article was first published in Arabian Business on 16th January 2023.