The art of negotiating was discussed by the chairman of DP World, one of the world’s biggest port operators, during the Public Diplomacy and Government Communication Forum in Dubai on Sunday.
Sultan Bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World, spoke about the power of persuasion and its role in expanding business opportunities for the global container handler, which holds a portfolio of 77 marine and inland terminals in 40 countries.
His comments came during his talk on the ‘Trade and International Affairs’ session of the one-day forum, held at Dubai World Trade Centre. The session was moderated by Dubai TV presenter Zeina Soufan. Sulayem, who is also chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, shared the story of how he earned the trust of an indigenous community in Canada that had a cautious relationship with the Canadian government, which required their nod for projects as the natives own the land.
When asked about the details by Soufan, Sulayem narrated how he flew to Canada with a chef, met the tribesmen on their ancestral land, cooked for them in the open, and served them personally “out of instinct”.
The locals were impressed and welcomed DP World, to the surprise of the Canadian government, which had not managed for years to win their hearts completely. DP World went on to purchase a port company in the area of the indigenous people without opposition.
Sulayem also revealed how he managed to turn a five-minute meeting with Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, into a 45-minute discussion, during a visit to India’s Gujarat state.
“I discussed with him India’s huge problem with transportation and storage of grains and fruit, which are wasted because they don’t reach the people. So, why would he be interested in a ports company? I told him ‘As an expert in logistics I can help you’. He listened to me for 40 minutes, he was so happy. Now, we have started negotiations with India related to logistics,” Sulayem said.
DP World’s close ties with government and corporate leaders and its trustworthy reputation, Sulayem added, were also instrumental in convincing countries to vote for Dubai in its successful bid for Expo 2020. He praised Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, for his diplomacy.
“In the past, diplomacy was confined to political relations between states. Shaikh Abdullah is creative and he also uses economics in enhancing relations. I have travelled around the world with Shaikh Abdullah and the impetus he gives us is significant,” Sulayem said.
When asked about the backlash DP World faced in its bid to enter the US, Sulayem said the decision to withdraw from the venture was “a commercial one, not a political one.”
“When we went to the US, there was an election at the time. The media stood against us. We could have established communications to sort it out, but we took a business-related decision to withdraw.”
He explained that countering the image being portrayed by the media would have taken many months, during which DP World would have suffered financial losses.
Source: Gulf News