The triumph of truth

Hussein Shobokshi
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Barring the renowned businessman Michael Bloomberg who later became the mayor of New York City, the most important and famous mayor in the history of the great city was Edward Irving Koch. He was known for his very unique management style.

He always went to the streets and walked among the people and asked them without any introductions: “What do you think of my performance?” His philosophy and justification for this behavior is that the city’s residents are his “clients” or “customers” and he must know directly and without any intermediary about their satisfaction with his performance, as they are the only one concerned.


I remembered all this. I was talking to a distinguished Arab minister who I met recently by chance. The talk was about the administrative methods that must be adopted and how he is “different” from his predecessors. He said his purpose is development and progress, but the people “did not absorb” the purpose and began to explain detailed challenges faced by, no one else can face it, and no one can appreciate that task.

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And when he found me, I did not comment on what he was saying, so he said: Why do not you join me in the talking? I said to him that you cannot tolerate the other opinion and consider any criticism as an objection and denial.

However, I am from the school that believes that any decision should lead to the public good, and it is not harmful as we know the purposes of the Shariah that the law does not come only fine and what causes harm is not lawful.

You are required to open clear, transparent and respectable lines with your “customers” and listen to them with depth, respect, seriousness and non-transcendence, considering that they “did not understand your aim” and therefore be “the defect in them”, I told him remember well our dialogues before you and get this position?

Direct communication is the shortest way between the official and people and honesty is always saved

Hussein Shobokshi

The last meeting

You were very understanding and very convinced of many of the same points I mentioned to you in our last meeting about the challenges. He tried to object.

I told him that meant we had one of two things, you change your opinion, or the second possibility is that you were not convinced enough and was not a principled position or did not understand and absorb it and in both cases, the defect remains with you.

We ended the conversation cordially and left the place and I have a growing conviction that the problem of ministers in the Arab world is the result of the communication gap between decision-making and “decision-receivers”.

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There is contempt for the media by the ministers in addition to considering the right of the citizen to question is a kind of curiosity, by itself. This automatically creates a very embarrassing and negative situation of mistrust and thus constant skepticism about declarations and promises. This never helps to instill confidence and build a spirit of hope amidst a climate full of rumors, noise, negativity and pessimism.

Direct communication is the shortest way between the official and people and honesty is always saved. It is a new old wisdom and what was applied yesterday is also valid for the day.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.
Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al Takreer on Al Arabiya, and in 1995, he was chosen as one of the “Global Leaders for Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum. He received his B.A. in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa. His twitter handle is @husseinshoboksh.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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