Egypt’s prime minister is the right man for the job

I do not remember when was the first time I met with Ibrahim Mahlab, but his name has always been associated with positive decisions. However, I clearly remember the day I visited him in his office when he was head of the Arab Contractors Company. What made me see him at the time was the administration’s ability to turn the company into a real success story. I often refer to it as a model of successful management.

During my visit, Mahlab noted that his office contained questionnaires on employees, as the major problem he confronted when he became the company’s head in 1997 was how to build a special relation between employees and the firm. The questionnaire contained employees’ personal details, education, health, interests and priorities in life.

I saw in Mahlab the right figure to lead the government for two major reasons

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Mahlab used the data to devise a model of services based on understanding employees’ real needs. I think this is the main reason behind the company’s success, and I hoped to implement this strategy at the post that I held at the time.

Mahlab was in Saudi Arabia when he was offered the post of Egyptian housing minister. He had been subjected to injustice - like many others - as he was targeted by a campaign aimed at distorting his reputation.

Although he held a senior post at a private Saudi company, he immediately returned to Egypt without “making any calculations” to assume the ministerial post. After all, some decisions are not calculated when it comes to the national interest.

Some voiced doubt

Before being tasked to form a government, some people voiced doubt that he was the right man for the job at a difficult time. Some cited Egypt’s need for more of a politician than an executive. They thus thought that a politician capable of dealing and maneuvering with political parties was more appropriate than Mahlab. Others demanded that the prime minister be an economist, given that the economy is the country’s biggest challenge.

I saw in Mahlab the right figure to lead the government for two major reasons. The first is the special relation that he built between himself and the simple citizen. This is due to his spontaneous behavior, which made people feel that he was one of them, not a stranger or superior. This is in addition to Mahlab’s ability to communicate in a way that bridged the gap between officials and citizens.

The second reason is his ability to strengthen the value of work and efforts. His presence among employees at different sites presented a model of an official who is capable of executing what he is tasked with.

These two characteristics earned Mahlab real popularity among ordinary Egyptians, despite some people's reservations. I saw in Mahlab “the man of the phase,” and this point of view turned out to be right.

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on August 24, 2014.

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Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy
 

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