Administration was part of his life. He even authored a book titled, ‘A lifetime in Administration’, which is a one-chapter book of 300 pages.JEDDAH – In his will, Abdul-Rahman Al-Gosaibi wrote a brief paragraph that his son, Ghazi, had asked him a diamond ring. Since he could not arrange for one he sought that Ghazi should be given SR3,000 from his legacy.
In 1954, when Ghazi was only 15, his hobby was to buy rings. He bought as many as he could afford. But his fortunes changed and shifted his interest from collecting material wealth to collecting knowledge – specially about law. In 1965, he was selected as legal consultant to the Saudi reconciliation committee to negotiate with the Egyptian forces in Yemen.
Ghazi spent seven months shuttling between Cairo, Riyadh and Sana’a, extending legal advice to the Saudi side. At the same time, he was guarding himself from bullets in the bloody Yemeni-Egyptian warfare.
Ghazi’s experience was so rich that he took up the Yemen crisis 1962-67 for his Ph.D. dissertation. Only in 1967, after the death of his father, Ghazi remembered the diamond ring. His father knew that Ghazi did not want the diamond ring. If ever he had wanted, he would have bought a dozen of precious stone rings.
Dr. Ghazi A. Al-Gosaibi has been the Minister of Industry and Electricity since 1975. The question is why had senior Gosaibi bothered himself with such a redundant, invalid request.
Ghazi penned an elegy on his father’s death that alone could explain the ring puzzle. He said:
Within one moment, Oh father and friend,
I lost you to become a little orphan.
An orphan who battles tears and fails
And wails a lot among the crowds.
You are there borne on the necks
Looming, as I know you, great, great.
Respectable in spite of life vanishing
Renowned in spite of curtains drawn
I resorted to tears till I envisaged
That you called upon me: Be worthy of me.
As minister Al-Gosaibi’s basic salary was SR45,000. He did not need a diamond ring any way. But the legacy of his father was imprinted in his consciousness.
His father wanted him to be in business. Ghazi insisted on working with the university. “Working as an employee means that you would end up broke or a thief!” the senior Al-Gosaibi had warned his ambitious son.
Ghazi was born in 1940, in Al-Ahsa. His mother was from the “Kateb” family of Makkah. As a child, he spent the first five years in Hofuf. Then he was taken to Bahrain for education.
His mother died when he was only nine-month-old. But his grandmother replaced his mother. While Ghazi was giving legal advice to the Saudi mission in Yemen, his grandmother died.
This experience of death deepened his belief in the Divine Destiny.
Bahrain then was a modern city, where for the first time, he saw lights and marvels of electricity.
Al-Gosaibi completed his high school and his father secured a scholarship for him to study law in Cairo.
In 1961, he obtained his law degree from University of Cairo. He studied English language and International Relations at the University of Southern California and obtained Masters degree.
In 1970, he got his Ph.D. in political science from University of London.
Since his boyhood, Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi learnt to wipe away tears in this world and to add up new smiles – as he had discovered early the abundance of agony and the scarcity of joy in our world.
There are four steps to achieve this mission: planning, organization, execution and follow-up. But these steps did not come easy. He had to burn the midnight oil to study literature, administration and law.
He wanted to tackle the widest breadth of disciplines. But the biggest lesson he learned from all these was that learning itself is an endless process. He kept one password from his primary school days: homework. He knew that before assuming any responsibility, one should have comprehensive information.
He did his homework always and diligently.
Saudi Arabian government nominated him for the position of UNESCO Director General. Guess, what he did? He studied the history and activities of this organization and interviewed all former directors.
It was part of his homework, a motto for Al-Gosaibi. He spent most of his time, in the library reading and doing his home work as an ambassador and as an administrator.
Administration was part of his life. He even authored a book titled, “A lifetime in Administration,” which is a one-chapter book of 300 unintermittent pages.
A very organized man, he was not a stranger to power too. Accepting the appointment as dean of the Faculty of Commerce at King Saud University meant empowering him to run the department with full authority.
He said there were two types of management: the defensive type and the offensive type. He definitely took the offensive type. This meant creating enemies. So what? For Al-Gosaibi, the enemy was the bureaucracy.
“If your child comes to you asking permission to go out to play, you should not delay five minutes to take a decision. Just tell the child yes or no,” he advised a parent.
Al-Gosaibi was always on time. As a minister, he gave an appointment at home for a candidate for some high position. The negligent nominee came one hour late and did not bother himself to apologize. He never got the job.
Al-Gosaibi began working since 1965 at the King Saud University in Riyadh.
He accepted this reality and did not quarrel with his boss. When the faculty needed him to teach public administration, he told his senior that he specialized in Law. “Either you take it or I take it,” his boss said smiling. Al-Gosaibi assumed the job, and for every hour of teaching he would spend three hours reading preparation: homework, again and again.
Salary was inadequate to pay for the installments. He took part-time jobs. He was legal adviser to the Ministry of Defense. But, as usual, he was on the offensive. He gave lectures at the Public Administration Institute, where he taught the man-made laws to Shariah graduates. In 1974, he was appointed Director of the Saudi Railways.
Homework here meant to see former directors and to need all reports and minutes of meetings.
When he attended the morning meeting he proved to be knowledgeable about every aspect of the establishment.
Decision was taken without delay. Objectivity, not personal interest, was pursued. But Al-Gosaibi had the advantage of love.
“Let people feel that you love and care for them as long as they fulfill their obligations,” he said.
Affectionate and offensive, not Dr. Jykell and Mr. Hyde, that was Al-Gosaibi.
In his book “A Lifetime in Administration he says that,” I do not claim that I told in this book the full truth but what I narrated here is true.”
He expounded so many anecdotes to prove his point, though he did not speak about his position as a Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
In 1975, Al-Gosaibi was appointed as Minister of Industry and Electricity. He was known as holder of two ministerial posts when he was assigned as acting minister of health in 1982, in addition to the post of minister of industry and electricity.
In 1984, he became ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. He spent over eight years until he was appointed as ambassador to Britain and Ireland.
He authored around 40 books, mostly a collection of poems. He is married to a German who was brought up in Bahrain and has three sons and a daughter. – SG