Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh ,Today we celebrate the 48th anniversary of the announcement of our Union and the establishment of our country; today marks the anniversary of the unification of the seven Emirates in 1971. On this day, our country embarked on a bold and optimistic journey of progress and development in order to achieve its vision across different fields by 2021; a vision which aims to make the UAE among the most competitive countries in the world by the Golden Jubilee of the Union.
Today the UAE, with its wise leadership, continues this journey with energy and determination, and looks to its children to continue the achievements of the nation and its citizens.
The progress, development and prosperity that we enjoy nowadays in the UAE goes hand in hand with a balanced foreign policy based on moderation, tolerance, humanitarian assistance and political openness that allows our country to gain greater respect in its diplomatic presence and further boost its friendly relations around the world.
On December 2nd of each year, we reflect on our nation’s achievements, and what we need to accomplish in the coming year. Ours is a comprehensive development agenda, which aims to look after the present as well as to plan for the future, and to compete with confidence on the world stage relying on proper planning, technological know-how, and our extensive human capital – the most important resource of the country.
Our leadership declared 2019 as the Year of Tolerance, to reinforce the fact that we are a country where more than 200 different nationalities live in an atmosphere of openness, mutual respect and coexistence based on the principle of tolerance.
There can be no better illustration of this tolerance than the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the UAE; the first visit by a pontiff to the Arabian peninsula, and his signing with the Sheikh of Al-Azhar the document of “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”. This document enshrines the country’s determination to instill a spirit of tolerance in society, establishing a culture of openness and dialogue, and rejecting all kinds of discrimination based on religion, gender, race, color or language.
Our Year of Tolerance also encapsulates the vision of the UAE’s Founding Father Sheikh Zayed, who believed that a successful, tolerant and progressive society can only be achieved by empowering women and ensuring their full participation in the construction of this country. A third of the UAE’s Cabinet are women; women represent a majority of the workforce of our civil service and our university graduates; and the representation of women in the Federal National Council is now at 50 percent.
Another highlight of this year was the remarkable progress made by UAE diplomacy in terms of the strength of the UAE passport, which now ranks the most powerful in the world, according to the global Passport Index. Hence, more visa exemptions were granted with 177 countries where UAE nationals are allowed to enter without a visa.
2019 also saw the launch of the “Mohammed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence”, the first graduate level, research-based artificial intelligence university in the world. This university aims to empower students, businesses, and governments to advance artificial intelligence and use its extraordinary potential as a global force for positive progress.
Moreover, the UAE has spared no effort in empowering young people, as evidenced by the Emirati leadership’s support for Hazaa al-Mansouri, the first Arab astronaut to visit the International Space Agency, who has become an inspiration and a role model to many young Emiratis.
The UAE has an international reputation for both security and stability, and this has enabled us to become a magnet for many creators and talented individuals, who seek an environment that supports their skills and talents, and appreciates and rewards their intellectual prowess.
It is well-known that the UAE has always been at the forefront in carrying messages of peace and cooperation to the world, and this no doubt assisted us in winning the right to host Expo 2020 Dubai, the largest event to be staged in the Middle East. Expo 2020 Dubai will showcase human achievements in many fields, with the participation of more than 200 countries, companies, organizations and educational institutions. This global event confirms our nation’s ability to connect and inspire millions of people around the world to celebrate human progress, solve global challenges, and create a better future.
On this occasion, we remain grateful to our leadership, which spares no effort to raise the nation and achieve the well-being and happiness of its citizens and residents.
Finally, I wish a blessed year for the UAE filled with constant progress and prosperity.
Saed Mohammed Al Mheiri
AmbassadorEmbassy of the United Arab Emirates