President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has described establishment of the United Arab Emirates in 1971 as a "dream" that became a "bright reality" for the citizens, the nation, the region and the world at large, adding in his statement on the occasion of UAE's 47th National Day that the Union was a reflection of a "deep desire" held by the citizens and the country's leadership.
In a statement to 'Nation Shield', the UAE Armed Forces' magazine, Sheikh Khalifa added that the establishment of the country was a "groundbreaking" initiative by the UAE's Founding Fathers under the visionary leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Below is the statement in full:
''Today, we celebrate the glorious 47th anniversary of the announcement of our Union and the establishment of our country, a dream that became a bright reality for our people, the nation, the region and the world at large. The establishment of our country was a groundbreaking initiative by our founding fathers under the visionary leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
"The Union was a reflection of a deep desire held by our citizens and represented an exceptional harmony between the leadership's vision and the people. This gave our experiment special characteristics as well as the determination to achieve success, and now it has become a global model of development, progress and prosperity.
"On this national occasion, and on behalf of the UAE people, I congratulate my brothers, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, who are leading our federal march towards achieving its goals.
"On this spectacular occasion, I pay tribute to our martyrs who have embodied heroism and bravery with their sacrifices that we will never forget. They will always stand as proud role models and their names will be engraved in the history of our country. Their families and children will always be at the heart of our priorities, and we will always provide them with all forms of support and care as we appreciate and recognise those who offered their lives and blood in sacrifice while defending their homeland. We pray to Allah Almighty to grant His mercy to their souls.
"The second of December is a historic, glorious occasion on which we learn lessons, draw strength and recall the insightful lives of the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his fellow Founding Fathers, who laid the solid foundations of justice and equality, and dedicated themselves for the good and benefit of the people and country. They also laid down the pillars of a successful modern country where all people enjoy prosperity, security and happiness. With its remarkable achievements and good reputation, the UAE has become a role model for other countries of the world.
"The UAE is living today a great period in its history, firstly thanks to Allah, and then thanks to the far-sighted vision of the Founding Fathers, the wise decisions of the prudent leadership and the sincere efforts of its loyal people. The UAE is blessed for having a government that engages citizens in the decision-making and policy-making processes. It has a world-class infrastructure, high-quality health, education and housing services, and highly-efficient justice, security and defence institutions. The government has also built an open society, which works diligently to empower women and enhance the role of the young female leaders.
"The UAE has made remarkable achievements at the international level in the areas of competitiveness, innovation, human development, diversity management, labour market efficiency and the rule of law, in addition to other indices that showed the marked progress our country has made in various fields, including the advanced ranking of passport as one of the world's most powerful travel documents. All these achievements reflect the respect, recognition and excellence our country has regionally and globally.
"On this great anniversary, we affirm that maintaining the spirit of the Union will remain our top strategic goal, which we strive to deliver through a coherent vision, specific objectives and comprehensive developmental and progressive policies. It is also achieved through regular coordination between the federal and local institutions, and through performing their responsibilities properly. The spirit of the Union keeps our country strong as it implements its free will and holds its distinct place among the nations.
"Dear Emirati sons and daughters, our country has smoothly moved from the 'phase of establishment' to the 'phase of empowerment.' Today, it is bracing itself to build and make its own future to reach a brighter tomorrow, whose features have been drawn from 'The UAE Strategy for the Future' and 'The UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution'. The paths for the future were also outlined by the 'UAE Vision 2071', which is a roadmap for the next five decades while moving towards the centennial anniversary of our Union.
"The first promising signs of this future have included the announcement of the first two Emirati astronauts to journey into space, and the launch of 'KhalifaSat', the first Arab satellite wholly designed and manufactured by Emirati engineers. These achievements increase our confidence in the future of our nation, which is built by our pride, UAE citizens - the sons of the late Sheikh Zayed.
"For us, the country of the future, which we are tirelessly building, is a country of science, innovation, law, leadership, achievement, originality, values and ethics. It is a country that nurtures talented, gifted and creative minds, invests in young energies, conserves its natural resources and biodiversity, and improves its infrastructure. It also seeks to diversify its national economy and increase its competitiveness, gearing up towards the achievement of the knowledge-enabled economy so as to deliver development, progress and happiness.
"It is also a country of law, which upholds the constitution, safeguards rights and duties, takes care of community interests and protects its individuals, so that all can live safely, enjoy peace and live in harmony.
"Our country is proud of its origin, identity, language and history. It is also proud of its founding fathers, civilizational legacy, Arab culture, national figures and its martyrs. Our country also highly regard ethics and values of honesty, integrity, charity, generosity and helping those in need. There is no future for a nation without morals, and without a coherent society, deep cultural structure, sophisticated system of schooling, and mosques that deepen the tolerant goals of the Islamic Sharia, since Islam is a religion of justice, right, equality, and moderation.
"As our country is going through a transformational change, it requires early monitoring of opportunities and challenges, hence, a rapid evolution of policies, legislations and institutions, and encouraging initiative, creativity and innovation, it also requires equal opportunities, and guaranteeing the participation of women and youth. These factors contribute in building an environment that incubates and stimulates progress, accomplishes achievements, and provides high-quality life for the present and future generations.
"In addition to that, we seek to maintain sustainability and conservation of the environment, resources and wealth. Our natural resources do not belong to a specific generation, rather they are owned by the nation and its future generations, therefore, these resources should be wisely invested to guarantee the rights of those generations.
"Dear Emirati sons and daughters, despite the challenges arising from uncertainties surrounding the global economy, we are confident of the vibrancy, stability and attractiveness of the investment climate of our economy, which is based upon political stability, security and safety, investment flows, high resilience and the ability to adapt to crises, coupled with generous government spending on infrastructure, educational, health and social assistance projects. These projects are supported by flexible economic mechanisms and unprecedented economic stimulus packages approved by the federal government.
"In this context, we issued, this year, a series of laws to stimulate and attract foreign direct investment, while introducing severe penalties for crimes related to money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. This legislation and associated policies seek to accelerate production and growth, increase the attractiveness and sustainability of the national economy, raise the contribution of non-oil sectors to the gross domestic product, GDP, improve the level of economic and social welfare for all, and enhance the confidence of the world in our country's leadership and its strength and ability to attract and host creative minds, ambitious businesses and investment.
"We also consider the private sector as the crux and driving force of economic activity and the largest contributor to the GDP. We are also confident of its great ability to generate promising job opportunities for the youth, nurture creative youngsters, improves Emiratis' competencies, fund research and development, R&D, and innovation projects, and expands the scope of its social responsibility.
"The residents of our country are an important component of our economy and our open, tolerant and culturally diverse community.
"Dear Emirati sons and daughters, We believe that a safe, secure country cannot live in isolation from its external surroundings. Our government has launched dozens of foreign initiatives and programs to improve human living conditions in brotherly countries through the development of health, education, and renewable energy sectors, providing drinking water, fighting poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy, improving infrastructure, and enhancing financial and monetary stability.
"Abu Dhabi hosts the Arab Youth Centre, which seeks to build young professionals capable of serving their communities by spreading a culture of hope and guiding the process of change and making the future.
"As part of our continuing efforts and commitment to promoting values of international humanitarian work, the UAE launched the 'Year of Zayed' to implement projects in many brotherly countries. Last February, we launched the 'Global Councils on Sustainable Development Goals', which seeks to support international efforts to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, by 2030.
"At the same time, we seek to diversify and expand our foreign relations as part of our policy to build a strong network of understandings and partnerships with major and developing countries. This will serve our national interests and support our policies and efforts in various related fields, in particular, countering extremism, fighting terror organizations, drying up the sources of terrorist funding, confronting the interference and greedy ambitions of Iran, and addressing Israeli violations, which seek to deny the Palestinian people their legitimate rights. We also seek to tackle the challenges and threats to Arab and Gulf security so as to end conflicts and crises, and extricate the region from the vicious circle of violence, so that peace, security and stability may be restored.
"Our foreign policy is based on deepening the values of tolerance and dialogue, building bridges of communication and cooperation, and to agree on a common Arab strategy that realizes the development, security and stability to which our peoples aspire.
"We strongly align ourselves with the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any attempts to threaten its unity, undermine its sovereignty, and harm its stature or defame its leadership and people. The Kingdom, under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, is the place of the first revelation of the Holy Quran, the Qibla (direction) of Muslim prayers, the protector of the two Holy Mosques, the defendant of our Gulf security, and the pillar of peace and stability in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
"Any attempt to harm Saudi Arabia also affects our country. Within this context, we strongly stand with Yemen to support the legitimacy and to restore hope to its citizens by working to end the Houthi coup, provide humanitarian and relief assistance to the Yemeni people, and rebuild the liberated areas in a bid to restore security and stability in the country.
"In accordance with the principles of our foreign policy, we stand in full solidarity with our brothers in Bahrain, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and wholeheartedly support their efforts to counter attempts against their security and unity.
"In the same context, we commend our significant diplomatic efforts in realizing peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea after 20 years of disputes and conflicts. Our peace-loving country spares no efforts in settling conflicts and making peace in the region - whenever that is possible. It reflects our conviction that regional and international security is integral and that ending conflicts and settling crises as well as establishing peace is the key to protecting peoples from the scourge of wars and achieving security, stability and sustainable development for all.
"Dear Emirati sons and daughters, as we celebrate the 47th anniversary of the establishment of our country, we have high hopes and optimism about its promising future. I am proud of a nation where I share its leadership with my brothers, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers, Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi of Sharjah, Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuami of Ajman, Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi of Fujairah, Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla of Umm al-Qaiwain, and Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi of Ras Al Khaimah. They are the spirit of the Union and the conscience of the nation.
"I am also proud of a nation where its citizens hold a deep consciousness, and strong will and persistence to protect their homeland, preserve its achievements, defend its rights, continue its development, and raise its profile in various events.
"May Allah Almighty guide your steps to deliver more glory, success and progress for our nation," Sheikh Khalifa concluded.
Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs