While Visionary Leaders lead their people to the top of a mountain that people can see in a vision from the beginning, Exploratory Leaders lead their people to previously unknown peaks. They go further and sail to unknown lands with hazy paths and abstract goals. While people will rebel against a Visionary Leader, the danger of mutiny is even stronger for an Exploratory Leader whose crew fear that unnecessary risks will make them lose what they have accomplished or received.
An early historical example includes the Portuguese and Dutch explorers who were searching for cloves and nutmeg. These mercantile explorers were emerging from a partial Medieval world that didn't know about the Americas. All they had was a vague notion that these spices originated somewhere far way in Asia. They had no idea what these substances really were, they did not know that they could only grow on the soil of a handful of islands, they had no map, they had no idea that the islands lay amidst a thousand other islands near New Guinea, and they couldn't speak the languages of most native people they met along the way around the coasts of Africa, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia. Imagine them searching through Indian marketplaces abundant in dozens of spices. It was't until the Portuguese reached Malaysia that they learned more about the origin of cloves and nutmeg which still lay more than 1000 miles away. But they kept searching, hoping, and asking until they found the Spice Islands with the courage, patience, and curiosity of discovery needed to reach their goal.
"We were like those who had climbed a mountain and reached the top. When we looked down we still wanted to go higher to realise our goals. Despite all the achievements [within the UAE Federation], we still have an ambition for more. That is my way of looking at things." HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Emir of Abu Dhabi and first President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Differences Between East Asia between The Gulf States
Exploration is one type of Exploratory Venture. In this era, the Gulf States exemplify Exploratory Leadership in other ways.
Many East Asians have developed their corporations and countries based upon a vision of what they have seen in the West. Some of them recreate European and American buildings in great detail, and they innovate technology they learn about. To climb their mountains of economic growth, the East Asians included an older form of Western style education. The Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans have dazzled the world during the shows they produce for their Olympic Games.
However, some of the Gulf States of the Middle East have endeavored to venture beyond those visions. They want to go beyond climbing. Although they haven't hosted any Olympic Games, some the cities in these countries have unique features that can astound visitors any day of the year with the feats of engineering based upon Exploratory Visions. Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have good examples of current Exploratory Leadership.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
"Every village or town in the Riyadh Region is dear to me, and holds a special place in my heart... I witnessed every step taken by the city of Riyadh, and for this reason it is difficult for me to think about being far away from Riyadh." HRH Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia
The Significance of Gulf Cities
Many on-line reviews list the most advanced cities merely by the tech companies that they have. Unfortunately, those reviews typically neglect the architecture, urban planning, and technical feats involved in an advanced city. Of the ten cities with the most number of skyscrapers, New York and Chicago represent two American cities. However, Dubai has the 3rd largest number of skyscrapers in the world. The other cities of the Gulf States (Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City, Bahrain, Doha, and Sharjah) also have numerous skyscrapers with fascinating twists and contours.
Furthermore, Dubai also has the Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world. Saudi Arabia has the 2nd tallest skyscraper in the world, located in Mecca, and it is building in Riyadh what will become the world's tallest skyscraper by 2020.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Taming the Desert with Extraordinary Urban Planning
While the East Asian countries and city-states already had either massive and/or densely populated areas, the Gulf States all started with small populations, small towns, and little pre-existing infrastructure or technology. They aspired to create global ultramodern cities, and they succeeded. What they have created is truly space age.
One great example is the King of Saudi Arabia himself, for he was the longtime Governor of Riyadh who supervised the massive growth of the capital city over four decades. When Saudi Arabia started to develop Riyadh in the 1930s, it had a population of 40,000 people. When HRH Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz Al Saud was appointed governor, planning had boosted the population to 150,000. The leadership history of development is similar regarding both the Emir of Abu Dhabi and the Emir of Dubai. Dubai started as a pearl farming town of 55,000 people at the inception of its urban planning.
Abu Dhabi began with 40,000 people in the 1960s, but its population has grown to more than
Dubai began with 55,000 people in the 1960s, but its population has grown to more than
Riyadh began with 40,000 people in the 1930s. Its population grew to 150,000 in the 1960s. Now it has more than
"I will never abandon one opportunity and wait for another. We have not reached the goal we are striving for. What you see now is nothing compared to our vision…just tiny parts of what lies ahead." HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Emir of Dubai
Taming the Desert with Urban Terraforming
Another thing people overlook is the magnificent and space age terraforming that many of these cities have conducted to transform them into virtual oases and playgrounds. Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai have many parks and gardens with flowers. Abu Dhabi has 2000 gardens alone. This is absolutely remarkable given their surrounding desert conditions. In fact, Saudi Arabia doesn't have a single river. But for them, a desert can be transformed to host even more.
Reshaping Life in the Desert with Creativity and Innovation
Despite the desert and humble beginnings, Dubai holds dozens of world records and rare venues. It built the largest aquarium in the world and people can stay in hotel rooms with an underwater view. In contrast with the heat and sand outside, an indoor mall hosts an indoor ski resort complete with a black diamond run. Moreover, features of the desert were extended and imprint upon the water. For Dubai has been building resort islands in the shape of palm trees in addition to an archipelago designed to resemble the continents of the world from the sky. When it comes to dining and entertainment, there is also considerable creativity in the experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. For instance, Dubai's 6D movie theater comes with moving seats and wind effects, and Dubai sports a bar made out of ice. The creativity in Dubai seems boundless and can blend what naturally seem like opposites (heat versus cold). One can understandably find indoor skiing in Scandinavia and sculptures made of ice in Manchuria, but such concepts in an environment like a desert seems inconceivable.
"Future generations will be living in a world that is very different from that to which we are accustomed. It is essential that we prepare ourselves and our children for that new world." HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Emir of Abu Dhabi and first President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Problems Facing the Gulf States
audi Arabia and Abu Dhabi's economic growth rests almost entirely upon the massive amount of oil that they have. However, as more oil is found around the world while many people shift toward using other energy resources, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi will continue to experience less earnings. Thus, some Gulf companies must shift toward other industries.
Dubai's rise began with the discovery of a limited amount of oil. Knowing that this amount would disappear quickly, the Emir of Dubai decided to establish the growing economy of Dubai based not upon oil but upon international trade. To help this along, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem created a trade free zone (Jebel Ali) that included the building of a massive seaport. Dubai is starting to suffer, though, from the natural effects of increasingly expensive real estate.
By way of analogy, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi bought ships and hired experts in navigation and sailing to help their lands to create the wealth and infrastructure that they now have. There is nothing wrong with that especially when it is needed. Both Saudi Arabia and the Abu Dhabi hired various kinds of experts from foreign lands (architects, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, etc.) to help them utilize their natural resource and fashion cities of renown. They also attracted a multitude of foreign corporations and business, small and large, to work with them. There is nothing wrong with that, too. However, as more countries find oil and create other forms of energy, a changing reality is descending upon both Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. The same holds true for their neighboring Gulf States of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman.
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are facing new stages in their development. New problems are emerging that may require both Transformative Leadership and the type of people who can adapt to the changes. They have climbed mountains and sailed across the oceans under their older Visionary Leaders and Exploratory Leaders. However, these countries now have a far larger population of young adults that was used to leisure instead of creating visions and growing from the work of development from the beginning. The younger generation needs to learn how to succeed and lead.
Countries and companies like these must protect, repair, and master their ships in the face of a new and potentially devastating storm. Existing leaders must realize what their youth are or aren't prepared for. The sooner they act and learn their new roles, the less they will lose and the more they stand to gain in the future despite any crisis they might encounter.
Veritas Global Development helps both the leaders and their people to understand and respond accordingly to the uncertainty, setbacks, and crises that befall Exploratory Ventures before their efforts are completely compromised.
"What can we learn from this study for preparing new leaders to take on responsibility? ... Leaders-in-formation should not seek easy solutions but rather learn to understand their struggle..." Organizational Psychology Professor Andreas Schroer of the University of Trier, "Responsibility and Leadership" from Responsibility at Work edited by Professor Howard Gardner of Harvard University