Acongregation of the global GIS community – that’s what map middle east in Dubai was. I was exhilarated to see this gathering on a single platform… a platform in Dubai. Dubai is considered to be the financial and trading hub for Middle East. Andwith the single minded pursuit of its rulers, it can well be considered as a Mecca of modern architecture! Wherever your eyes can go, one can see the creation of newer and newer architectural delights in the making.
What intrigues me most about Dubai is this is a real example of what can be created in a desert. Compared to its neighbors, Dubai had very little oil reserves. But, in spite of it, the progress it has made, can be considered a wonder!
After visiting the Middle East for some time, I have now started to see what does it mean to have a second move advantage. If I compare India and the Middle East, we can see some interesting differences. India has one of the oldest surveying organizations, Survey of India, long known for its professional and technical capabilities. India also has Indian Space Research Organization, Geological Survey of India and Census of India having an halo of history, tradition and leadership. And on top of it, India has IT leadership in the world today. In spite of having all these assets, the GIS industry is not able to take off, with as much pace as it could have in India. Now if we look at the Middle East, which started all the above mentioned activities only in late 60s, after discovery of oil in that region and in just 40 years, organizations in the Middle East can safely be considered in a league ahead of Indian and many other Asian organizations in GIS.
How did this happen? In my opinion, since they did not have any legacy organizations to start with, they invented their organizations with latest management and technological principles. They did not have problems in building SDIs at local level, since they did not have data sharing problems to start with as no data existed.. We are in an interesting point in history, where the leadership of a county like India has itself become the reason for its under-performance.
What better example of being the victim of your own success!