Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, recently made an unusual announcement on his official Twitter account: The kingdom needs a "hope maker."
According to news reports, a job as a “hope maker," which is rather vaguely defined, comes with a benefits package worth 1 million dirhams, or about $272,300.
Despite scant elaboration on what this well-paid government employee would be doing for the UAE, Al Maktoum listed some necessary qualifications. The individual, he wrote, must be someone with humanitarian and altruistic experience and “well-reputed, with good moral conduct and standing in society” who can “be a positive and firm believer in the potential of people of the Arab world.”
Al Maktoum even provided an age range for the position: The “hope maker” role is open to anyone between 5 and 95 years of age.
Those wanting further details are referred to www.arabhopemakers.com.
But is this job position real? What are the motivations for offering this kind of role? And what does a “hope maker” do for a country?
On March 3, the Gulf News Journal spoke with Ken West, a grassroots activist and comparative religion scholar in Charlottesville, Virginia, about the announcement.
“He’s looking for the 12th imam.” West told the Gulf News Journal, describing a prophetic figure who he said many believe will stand at the side of Christ in the Second Coming.
Whether this religious narrative is literal or more metaphorical, West said, it is part of a larger question about the coordination and comparative similarities between major world religions, particularly Christianity and Islam.
Part of the puzzle, West said, involves the long-held concept of an ineffable God in many Islamic circles and in parts of the Judeo-Christian faith.
The idea of a single human savior, he said, is woven through these world religions.
“It could be anybody.” West said. “A rich Saudi. It might be the guy who’s giving the million dollars.”
He also said the idea of a well-paid government employee going out to “make hope” in the UAE has much to do with the fusion of religion with science, the notion that humans gain a closer relationship with the divine by bettering their world.
A fuller explanation of the Sheik’s program, unveiled on a series of websites, shows these kinds of cultural and altruistic ideas at work. Part of Al Maktoum’s job offer is centered on a greater set of programs called the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, a foundation that seeks to combat poverty and disease, spread knowledge and improve communities.
As for the Emirati leader's open job role, would-be "hope makers" can nominate themselves or others. CV's can be sent to www.arabhopemakers.com. The notification names a contact person, Ahmed Alshuqairy, who can provide further details. Calls to Alshuqairy were not returned by press time.