For Dubai Government Workers, the Wrong Day to Turn Up Late

Foreign workers stand in line to take a bus that will transport them to where they live at the end of their shift at a construction site in Dubai on April 16, 2008. Emarati officials warned during a two-day conference on National Identity held in Abu Dhabi of the dangers of social instability created by large foreign minorities. AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB (Photo credit should read KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)

A bad day to turn up late: Dubai’s ruler encountered a lot of empty chairs on Sunday when he decided to do a surprise spot check on ordinarily busy government offices.

A video showing Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum walking into the sparsely populated offices of the Land Department and Department of Economic Development at the start of the workday was widely shared on Twitter. Sunday was the first day of school.

The 14-second video showed the 67-year-old sheikh, who is also the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, walking into a room where his pictures adorned the wall and standing behind an empty desk. The video was posted on Twitterby Dubai’s media office, which noted that managers were no better than rank-and-file employees. Videos of the ruler also visiting the Dubai municipality and the city’s international airport were also shared on Twitter.

“He certainly wanted to send a message,” said Mona Al-Marri, director-general of the government of Dubai’s media office. “Timeliness starts at the top and we won’t go after employees when their bosses aren’t there.’’

Dubai’s ruler was known for his surprise visits in the early days of transforming the city from a desert town into a thriving business center. Although none of the officials absent on Sunday were identified, the sheikh in the past hasn’t shied away from naming and shaming. Following Dubai’s credit crisis, some officials at property companies, including state-owned firms, faced legal action as he tried to root out corruption.

Dubai now receives about 10 million tourists a year, and is well-known for the world’s tallest tower and man-made islands.

Khalifa Saeed, who heads government protocol, shared several pictures and videos on Instagram showing Sheikh Mohammed touring the airport and casually greeting people waiting to get their passports stamped. Saeed commented that Sunday’s spot visits showed “senior officials” were absent.

Spokespeople for the Dubai Municipality, Dubai Land Department and Dubai Department of Economic Development didn’t respond to requests for comment by Bloomberg.


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