DUBAI // In 40 years, the city has been transformed from a small desert community to an international destination. With that transformation, inevitably, has come a change in the nature of crime. But in those four decades, two things have stayed the same: criminals themselves - and the man whose job it is to catch them.
They always leave a clue behind them, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim says. "Despite the bigger challenges today, the force is better equipped than ever to ensure safety and security for the people of Dubai. We are able to overcome any challenge with knowledge and science." he said. With a busy emirate to police, Gen Tamim rarely has time for distractions. This, after all, is a man who does not sleep until he receives the daily report from the police operation room each night. But yesterday the Dubai Police chief took a break to be honoured by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai, for his 40 years of service.
Before an audience of colleagues and dignitaries at a ceremony in Dubai Police headquarters, Gen Tamim was presented with two medals. The Service Order of First Class and Appreciation Medal of First Class were awarded in recognition of his pivotal role in two of the most high-profile crimes of recent years: the assassination of the Chechen warlord Sulim Yamadayev and the Wafi City robbery in April 2008, in which a gang stole Dh14 million (US$3.81m) worth of jewellery from a store in the shopping mall.
Recalling his early days in the force, the chief said: "When I had my recruitment interview the then Dubai Police chief asked me to give a suggestion for something that should be done with the police, so I said that we should set up a forensics laboratory. He replied by saying that he would pretend he hadn't heard that as he considered it so unnecessary. Today we are implementing the newest technology in discovering crimes and this makes our work so much more effective."
After graduating from the Police Academy in Amman, Jordan, Gen Tamim joined the Dubai Police in 1970. Nine years later he was appointed to the job of police chief. He began his career as a lieutenant and was granted the title of Lieutenant General in 2004. He remembers: "When Sheikh Mohammed used to introduce me he would say, 'This is Colonel Dahi, the youngest police chief in the world.' I realised that he was trying to convey a message. I sat with myself to review the sign he gave me and decided that I must prove to His Highness that I am worth his trust. I had to answer the question, how should I be?"
To succeed, he decided, he must be patient and precise, plan every step, and be innovative. One thing Gen Tamim was convinced he could not do was to pursue any business interests. "Let those who run after money continue to do so, but as far as I am concerned I will stick to my principles," he told his audience at the award ceremony yesterday. He also warned his officers: "Beware of financial temptations and be righteous - work is a trust."
Another of the chief's priorities was to change the public's perception of the force. "I wanted to transform the force from within, and change the police's image in society," he said. The object was to transform the police service from being entirely a security apparatus into a more socially responsive force. The chief's days are regimented. His daily routine begins with morning prayer, followed by a visit to his mother to give her a kiss, before he drives to work. He likes to maintain a hands-on approach, and to be visible to his officers on the ground.
Major General Khamis al Meziena, the deputy head of Dubai Police, said: "Throughout the 27 years I have been working with Lt Gen Dahi, every time any major incident happened he was always present in the field to supervise the situation on the ground." When his office day ends at the police headquarters at 2.30pm, the chief makes his daily visit to the offices of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to submit his reports and receive directions.
Major Abdul al Ansari, who gave a speech at yesterday ceremony's on behalf of Dubai Police staff, described Gen Tamim as "a man who has full loyalty for his country, his rulers and for his countrymen, a person who cares about the ill and the elders". The team from Dubai Police that worked on solving the murder of the Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim, who was found with her throat slit outside her flat at Jumeirah Beach Residence in July last year, was also praised at the ceremony.
Gen Tamim said respect was his biggest gain in life. "Throughout my 40 years of work serving my nation," he said, "my head was always held high, and my main gains in life were becoming a righteous man, and earning the respect of Sheikh Mohammed and the trust and respect of people." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org