ABU DHABI, 2 December 2020: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said that the 2nd December will remain the nation’s most cherished day wherein wisdom, principles and noble goals triumphed. “It is the day when our Founding Fathers embodied the quintessential Emirati values of dignity and steadfastness and represented the sense of belonging and national identity.”
In a statement to ‘Nation Shield,’ the UAE Armed Forces magazine, on the UAE’s 49th National Day, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed said, ”We look to the future with confidence and hope, armed with our vision, our experience, and our achievements in the field of human development and urbanisation, realising that our successes in the past decades were achieved with effort, hard work and determination. In the next five decades, we will need to double this effort, increase production and enhance capabilities, as the ambition is greater, challenges are tougher, competition is more intense, and the transformations around us are faster and deeper.”
Following is the full text of his statement on the occasion: “In the Name of Allah Almighty, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
Honourable citizens, Peace be upon you all! I congratulate you on the occasion of our country’s 49th National Day. I extend my greetings to my brother, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and to my brothers, Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates.
Today, as the spirit of the Union prevails across the nation, we proudly remember our father and our icon, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his lifetime friend, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, and their brothers, the late Rulers of the Emirates.
The legacy of our fathers will always live among us as long as there is life on this land. It lives in us and encourages us to be ambitious and optimistic, motivating us to accomplish more achievements, therefore strengthening our perseverance to face challenges.
Citizens of our country: 2020 has been an exceptional year, as it was rife with surprises, mysteries and challenges. During this year, anxiety, fear and surprise united nearly 7.7 billion people around the world in an unprecedented common destiny. An unknown virus killed some 1.4 million people and infected over 60 million, and this number is accelerating. This virus has negatively affected the global economy, restricted travel and aviation, and paralysed food, medicine and goods supply chains, as well as disrupted the work of governments, markets and companies, and led to curfews and lockdowns everywhere around the globe.
This year has been a test for countries, the capabilities of governments, the efficiency of their institutions and procedures, and the level of their readiness to face pandemics and disasters, and their repercussions.
I thank Allah Almighty for the stellar success of our nation during this difficult test, as well as for the excellent performance of our government and institutions, and our readiness to face pandemics and disasters in a way that has been recognised by the entire world and its specialist organisations.
This success is not a mere coincidence or luck, but rather the outcome of our Emirati model that foresaw the future and developed appropriate strategies and plans to get the nation ready for emergencies and worst-case scenarios. Our Emirati model will ensure the efficiency and flexibility of our institutions and their ability to make the right decisions at the right time.
The performance of our government and people has enabled us to meet the threat posed by the pandemic. Our community responded aptly to the preventive measures and our institutions fought hard against the virus, supported by our advanced health infrastructure, with its facilities, equipment and medical cadres who contained the pandemic and limited its spread, enabling our country to be the first in the world where COVID-19 tests have exceeded the population count. We have also reached our targets for monitoring infections and recoveries.
The pandemic has forced many countries to reassess their healthcare systems. However, in the UAE we have implemented the necessary initiatives to support our health system, whose efficiency and competence we trust.
We are proud of our healthcare system, which is ranked first in the world in seven health indexes, including its healthcare coverage, lack of health problems and national early detection programmes.
Also, we have succeeded in securing the food and medicine needs of our community, increased our strategic reserves of these two staple commodities, and established a sustainable food system. Three years ago, we created the Ministry of Food Security and established the Emirates Council for Food Security. Our objective was to achieve food self-sufficiency, and we sought to double our agricultural production.
We also established the National System for Sustainable Agriculture to serve this vital sector and provide technological solutions to meet its needs. We’ve also sought to strengthen our advanced food industries, in which we invested over AED62 billion.
Citizens of our nation: The pandemic has changed people’s life patterns and their ways of work; however, we have managed to easily adapt to the new patterns in a timely manner. The government established a teleworking system, which has been successfully implemented. This success expanded to the educational institutions and private sector corporations, thanks to three factors: i) the government’s efficiency, flexibility and the competence of its cadres, and their ability to make decisive, timely decisions; ii) the government’s digital transformation, which has been carried out for nearly two decades, which was then developed for use in smart governments, and iii) the country’s advanced digital infrastructure.
Thus, our work continued as usual, sometimes at a faster pace, while moving ahead to implement the programs of the year of preparation for the next fifty years. We restructured the government in a manner that achieves timely decision-making and maximises the ability to keep pace with the changes and seize the opportunities that accompany them, in order to enhance the achievements and gains in our country.
We also proceeded to implement our strategic projects, according to set timetables, including the successful operation of the first peaceful nuclear energy reactor at Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant. Both the Hope Probe and the mini satellite MeznSat were launched into space. We also inaugurated the Mohammed bin Rashid Medical Research Institute, the UAE’s first independent biomedical research centre, with a vision to prepare the next generation of researchers to develop effective vaccines against pandemics and conduct research on common diseases in our country.
Extending a helping hand
Neither the pandemic nor the global economic stagnation has affected our approach to extending a helping hand to less fortunate countries and supporting their efforts to confront the pandemic. Our country has also provided medical and relief aid to more than 100 countries. During our participation in the virtual G20 summit, we affirmed the UAE’s full commitment to back every effort aimed at supporting human interests, wherever they are, and helping humanity to usher in a new phase, filled with hope, after eliminating the pandemic that’s impeded global development efforts.
We also emphasised that collective action is the best way to overcome the current challenges and tackle their negative repercussions. We called for unifying our resolve and will to empower societies, especially the underprivileged, to weather these challenges in order to pursue development and meet the essential needs that guarantee the simplest forms of life for human beings.
Our common global issues, such as empowering women, providing health care, climate change, offering low-cost education, and facing issues of food and water security, cannot be addressed without acting collectively and determinedly under the collective will of the international community.
Citizens of our country: We’ve learned from our fathers and from our experiences that adopting new ideas and methods of working is not a difficult thing, but the difficulty always lies in relinquishing old ideas and routine management. People usually suffice themselves with what they already know and practise, and are afraid of trying new things. Our confidence in our people, and the confidence of our people in their leadership, are the most important factors in overcoming this difficulty. With a gradual approach, we succeeded in reconciling our traditions with the requirements of development and modernisation. This success has been reinforced by our remarkable and tangible achievements in all walks of life, so keeping up with the new and harnessing it to serve development and progress has become an integral part of our work and thinking, and a constant component in the culture of our society. This is one of the secrets of our growing self-strength, our excellence in government performance, our progress in diversifying the economy, developing services, improving education, and achieving gender balance.
This mutual trust between our people and their leadership, the consolidation of the culture of change and development, and keeping pace with the new in our society, will open the doors in the next 50 years, and will enable our young men and women and our young generations to deliver on our vision of the UAE Centennial Plan 2071, for our country to be in the first ranks of the world’s most advanced and prosperous countries.
In less than a month, 2021 will commence, and we are approaching our 50th National Day. We want 2021 to witness a major breakthrough for the next 50 years. We want our country to be the most distinguished and offer the best in terms of quality of life. We will continue to prepare all sectors for the post-oil era, by building a true knowledge-based, innovation-driven economy, investing in qualitative minds and competencies, promoting the system of the civilised values of tolerance, openness, coexistence and acceptance, preserving our national heritage, authentic customs and traditions, and global competition for leadership, and building strong foundations to sustain this development for future generations.
In this context, the 50-year Development Plan Committee and the specialist teams continue to work round the clock. The community, the private sector, and everyone who has an idea to participate in designing the future have joined them, reaffirming the solid approach of participation, long cherished in our country since its establishment.
This blessed national effort has achieved the vision of all of our vital sectors, and has contributed to the enactment of relevant legislation, including laws that support development and strengthen its engines, boost the economy, open doors to new economic sectors, develop a business-friendly environment, stimulate direct investment, encourage innovation and attract talented minds in vital areas, focused on advanced science and technology, as well as research and development, R&D.
Citizens of our country: The progress our country has made makes us happy and fills us with feelings of pride and contentment, but it is not enough for us because we want similar progress for our Arab brothers. Every success achieved in any Arab country represents an added force for the benefit of the entire Arab world. Since the establishment of our state, we have been seeking the paths of goodness for our nation. We have always been part of the Arab consensus, and we have always sought to close Arab ranks, and we took the initiative to help all those whose capabilities fell short of meeting the development needs of their countries. Towards that end, we launched initiatives after initiatives to empower Arab youth, in terms of knowledge, science, administration and culture.
We’ve also placed our acquired experience at the disposal of our Arab brothers, and we will continue to seek the advancement of our Arab world, for we stem from it and it is from us. And if the many common denominators among our Arab countries are not sufficient to deepen cooperation between Arab countries, then geography alone calls for the highest levels of integration and coordination, and affirms our common destiny, security and stability.
In spite of the daunting problems and challenges facing the Arab World, and the deterioration of the situation in Arab countries, the opportunities for revival and reform are always available for those who possess a consciousness and will, and perhaps the huge and costly turmoil experienced by some countries has reached its end. While it has left tremendous losses in lives and property, deep wounds in souls, it also created valuable lessons which will speed up the processes of reconstruction and healing, if well understood.
Our Arab world needs to think through the perspective of language and data for use in the third decade of the twenty-first century, to comprehend the political, economic and value changes that have swept our world in recent years, to foresee the future and to recognise the engines of development in it, and to be completely certain that the old means and old patterns of work and thinking will not produce new results. Rather, they will reproduce the old systems, most of which are neither good nor build sustainable development, nor aid in achieving peace, security or stability.
Likewise, it is no longer acceptable to blame others, or external conspiracies and interventions, for failure. For centuries, the Middle East region has been the focus of the attention of major powers, and this interest deepened and its affects increased after World War I, making security and stability in the region part of international security and stability concerns.
This situation has weighed heavily on the countries of the region, and placed two options before them: Either invest in this international interest in a way that advances their development and enhances their security, or let its influences and competitions control the contexts of events, their unfolding developments, and the means of managing them.
It is true that the international situation is now characterised by uncertainty, and that the global order – represented by the United Nations – needs more effectiveness, and that the competition that prevails on relations between major countries is reflected in our region and complicates its issues and disputes. Therefore, it is difficult to address and find solutions to them. But it is also true that this situation is not a justification for the region to remain in a state of waiting for global developments; nor is it a justification to stand idly and fail to seriously address the region’s issues and its chronic problems, especially since most of them are concealed behind the people’s rights to development, stability and dignified living.
We in the UAE neither carelessly wait, nor stand idly. If we had waited, we would not have established our union, would not have achieved development, would not have built our brilliant Emirati model, would not have succeeded in strengthening our own sources of strength, and would not have propelled our country to its prestigious, effective and respected position in the world.
We work, initiate, strive, and foresee the future, and adopt strategic planning, and we do not start something without conducting a thorough study after assessing all possibilities.
This has enabled us to effectively contribute to combating extremism and terrorism, thwarting schemes to change Yemen’s identity and its belonging to the Arab world, and building channels of dialogue between cultures, and launching the Human Fraternity Document, with the participation of the top religious references in Islam and Christianity. And when we concluded the Abraham Accords, we provided our region with a valuable opportunity to break through the stalemate, move stagnant waters, and chart paths that lead to peace, security, coexistence and devotion to development.
The accord halted annexation of lands of our Palestinian brothers, and reminded the world of their just cause, after they were absent from events and developments, and opened a horizon for them towards their legitimate rights in their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Citizens of our country: On our National Day, I greet with you the officers and soldiers of our armed forces, our security organs and civil protection agencies, and renew my pride in their vital role in safeguarding the freedom, independence, sovereignty, security and stability of our homeland, and my appreciation for their sacrifices, loyalty to the covenant and oath, and their embodiment of the values and principles of our homeland and our people.
Our armed forces have shown competence and courage in all the missions they have been assigned to, and have achieved victories and professional performances in the land of brotherly Yemen; they have contributed to the liberation of most of its lands. They carried out a strategic redeployment after successfully performing their mission and contributing to the rebuilding of the legitimate Yemeni forces. Yemen has been the focus of attention and care of our state since its inception, and will remain so. Our state continues its contributions to the humanitarian efforts to support the Yemeni people, rebuild their infrastructure, and to continue to participate in international efforts seeking a peaceful solution that puts an end to Yemeni conflicts and divisions.
We also extend a warm greeting to our white army and its battalions of doctors, nurses, technicians and administrators, who have shown sincerity and dedication, have taken risks and advanced their ranks to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and treat the patients. Our health workers have presented new heroes to our country. Their model – nurse Asma Al Shehhi – took the initiative to halt her study leave, left her infant and worked 12 hours a day.
In our homeland, there are thousands of men and women like Asma. They are in all worksites, achieving and innovating, and developing their capabilities, knowledge and skills. They are our most inexhaustible wealth, and our heroes who spare no effort for the sake of the advancement of their homeland and the well-being and happiness of their citizens.
Citizens of our country: The second of December will remain our dearest and most cherished day. It is the day when wisdom, principles and noble goals triumphed. It is the day when our Founding Fathers embodied the strength, dignity, virtues and qualities of the Emirati people. It is the day that culminated in the struggle, steadfastness and success of our ancestors in preserving our land.
The next year, our Union will enter 50th year of its long journey. We look to the future with confidence and hope, armed with our vision, our experience, and our achievements in terms of human development and urbanisation, realising that our successes in the past decades were achieved with effort, hard work and determination. In the next five decades, we will need to double this effort, increase production and enhance capabilities, as the ambition is greater, the challenge is more difficult, the competition is more intense, and the transformations around us are faster and deeper.
I promise you, at the beginning of the 50th year of our Union, that the next 50 years will be more glorious and splendid. And as our vision has expanded, our experience accumulated and deepened, and our ability to face challenges, and keep abreast of changes and plans for the future doubled, you will remain our most cherished assets.
Many happy returns of this blissful National Day and may Allah bless and keep you safe each hour of every day.”