In June 2014, I had gone to Dubai on a logistics related business trip with a customer in Aviation industry in connection with then partially opened 2nd airport in Dubai, Al Maktoum International Airport, also known as Dubai World Central or DWC (DXB being the primary and 1st airport in Dubai). While the World Expo was then yet to be held in Milan, Italy in 2015, the announcement that Dubai had won the bid to host World Expo 2020 had been made earlier in November 2013. It was clear how Dubai’s planning, for the World Expo to be held over 6 years later, was in full steam. There were billboards everywhere with pictures of Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, and of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Dubai World Expo 2020. It seemed that 50% of the cranes in the world were placed in Dubai then with massive construction and amazing infrastructure development including dozens of new hotels, given the anticipated demand for hotel rooms for a massive event like the World Expo.
Dubai was pulsating and everyone I met during my trip in June 2014 was pumped up about the Dubai World Expo 2020 event. While admiring the zest, I was taken aback by how Dubai was so fully engulfed in an event yet to occur 6 years later. I recall a friend of mine, that lives in Dubai, told me that the planning was so thorough and complete that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler and UAE Vice President, had already been in touch with all the cruise lines given the need for the hundreds of thousands of hotel rooms needed for guests expected for the World Expo 2020. With each mega cruise ship having thousands of rooms, the plan was to have dozens of such mega ships docked alongside Dubai ports come June 2020, essentially providing floating hotel rooms. Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai had overseen development of numerous projects in Dubai including the creation of a technology park, free economic zone, Dubai Internet City, the Palm Islands (many US and global celebrities own villas there), and Burj Khalifa (tallest structure and building in the world) and so learning about this planning with cruise lines was par for what one would expect from a very modern, forward thinking, trend-setter leader like Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai.
However, as zemblanity would have it, we know now that all those mega or for that matter any cruise ships were certainly docked in June 2020 and for the first time ever since such cruise ships have been built, they did not serve as floating hotels – not for World Expo 2020 nor for anybody else. One can imagine the billions of dollars and millions of hours of planning that must have been invested for World Expo 2020 – I witnessed that first-hand in June 2014, exactly 6 years before the major event – especially knowing that everything Dubai does, is trendy, splashy and over the top.
Hundreds of millions of children have not been in their classrooms, tens of millions did not get to relish their once in a lifetime graduation walk, millions have lost their lives, or their jobs and livelihood, hundreds of thousands of events like planned weddings had to be cancelled, and the list goes on and on. Mankind has paid a huge price for not finishing whatever it is that we all undertook, and the mental anguish associated with not being able to support our loved ones when they had to be hospitalized last year for reasons other than the virus. In last 9 months alone, I have lost 3 siblings of my father – his younger brother last May and his 2 baby sisters so far this year, all in India and none due to contracting the virus. However each devoid of the presence of family to pay their final respects and provide the moral/emotional support that grieving families need and count on. My cousin brother being the only son and living here in the US was unable to travel to India in Jan 2021 to perform the last rites for his mother, traditionally done by a son in Hindu religion. My story is no different from anybody else who has experienced similar challenges, and unusual and amazing stories abound like the case of a father that I know living here in US not having reconnected with his wife and not even having met his newborn son born in Australia almost a year ago.
Let’s face it – while we may believe otherwise, we really have no control over anything in life. Maybe we should soak in the events as they transpire and have the flexibility and openness to experience them as they unfold, and to live in the moment. Most importantly maintaining a positive outlook as things change around us and finding solace (instead of getting frustrated) knowing that we really have no control and that change in inevitable. Imagine if we all stayed positive and relished the curve balls that life throws at us, instead of lamenting how bad they are or how we were unable to dodge them. Imagine if we all simply enjoyed the ride – that of our life’s journey. As one of my twin daughters says, “dad, life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it”. Sure there are times we miss deadlines and sure we may upset customers in so doing – but what if we all were more understanding and more gentle – would that not be the kind of world that God envisioned for us. Remember God is bigger than all our fears, anxieties and insecurities.
So yes, all our thorough plans notwithstanding, I am certain none of us will ever question whether it is He who ultimately makes those plans successful – Dubai’s almost 7-year long planning is testament to that. So yes, Man proposes, and it is nobody other than God that disposes!
Wahe Guru! (in summary, it means “I am grateful to Him”)