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Khalifa's address to the nation on National Day

posted on 02/12/2007: 1575 views

Following is the full text of the statement to the Nation made by President H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan On the occasion of the 36th Anniversary of the UAE National Day on Saturday, December 1st, 2007.

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Most Compassionate, Dear Citizens, Al Salaam Aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakat On this blessed day, and as we celebrate the 36th anniversary of the founding of our nation, I take this opportunity to extend my sincere greetings to my brothers, Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the emirates. I salute them for their good custodianship of our Federation and also for their sincere and tireless efforts to administer justice, maintain security, and mobilise resources to spur the growth of our country.

I also take this opportunity to extend my warm greetings to my sons and daughters - the UAE citizens - as well as to resident expatriates from sisterly and friendly countries.

I salute the officers, non-commissioned officers and servicemen of our Armed Forces, and indeed the rest of our security agencies, for the sacred mission which they are carrying out, a mission of protecting our country and its gains.

On this blessed day, we pray that God may bestow His mercy upon the founding father of our nation, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and also upon the other co-founders of the UAE Federation.

It is from the perseverance and dedication of our founding fathers that the nation derives its strength and pride. I pay tribute to those who have continued to keep the beacon of this nation ever shining through their handiwork and thinking. May the Almighty Allah bless us with strength, clear vision, and dedication so that we may continue to follow in the footprints of our founding fathers.

Fellow citizens, As we celebrate this noble occasion, we are full of confidence that we will achieve the objectives which we set for ourselves a couple of years ago. These objectives were outlined in my address to the nation this day two years ago. In that speech, which has been translated into a strategy for Government, I noted that the nation was on the threshold of a new era, an era in which the UAE's human capital would take the centre stage.

Other hallmarks of this new era also include, amongst others, enhancing cooperation between local and federal institutions; improving the decision- making process; upgrading the performance of government institutions; harnessing human resources; and improving the quality of services. All these elements constitute an integrated future strategy for our nation.

The key to the success of this strategy lies not in the ideas or financial resources that will be used but rather in the degree of commitment and dedication of those who will implement it. Ideas in themselves can never be realised if we lack competent and committed human resources.

The objectives of the strategy will not be achieved without the introduction of true programmes for the development of young national leaders who are capable of shouldering the responsibilities and its ends will also not be reached unless the private sector works pro-actively as a true, full partner in national development.

We in the institutions of the State aspire for a clearer and more effective role to be played by the private sector. A role whose framework is responsibility towards the community, and whose final goal is the creation of more attractive and encouraging job opportunities for our young people, the introduction of modern technology, the creation of a safe, healthy working environment, the guarantee of workers' rights and the improvement of the quality of products and services.

We - whether in the public sector, private sector or public interest organisations - are partners in preserving this homeland, pushing forward its march of progress, maintaining its identity and protecting its gains.

Dear citizens, The last year witnessed an important development with regard to political empowerment and the practice of democracy, as the Federal National Council, FNC, 14th legislative session has half of its members elected, with women representing 22% of the total number of FNC members.

We remain committed to continuing our democratic change until we achieve all planned goals through paving the way for and offering the chance for more participation, and through enhancing the role of the FNC as a legislative and monitoring power.

To keep in line with this trend and to support it, we call for the implementation of a national programme that aims at strengthening our identity and deepening the values of belonging and of citizenship, as well as providing the required conditions in society that reflect our country as an example of an open modern society whose values are consistent with our beliefs and our heritage.

We call for a clear programme that sets out a clear vision for the objectives of our experiment in elections and the associated mechanisms, We also call for an expansion of the authority of the FNC.

Dear citizens, What we have managed to achieve in the last years makes us more confident that our people can go ahead with our plans and strategies and achieve the required objectives. Our country is at the top, both at a regional level and at the level of the Arab world, with regards to welfare, social development, economic competitiveness, tourism promotion, attractiveness for investment, the use of IT technology and other fields.

Our people have been able, within a space of thirty six years, to achieve what is beyond imagination - a model of federal government, stimulating human development, a modern infrastructure, high-quality basic services, a good economy, an educated people, welfare and security.

Our government has also succeeded in adopting modern labour legislation, in implementing a free-market policy, in improving the investment environment and in maintaining an open mind towards experiments in a global economy, as well as managing to support partnership between the public and private sectors and in introducing regulation of public joint companies.

All of these factors have worked together towards reviving our economy, and our Gross Domestic Product GDP, according to economic indicators, will increase by the end of this year to reach a record level. This is testimony to the prudent economic policy adopted by the government, especially in expanding and diversifying our production base. Now, although the oil sector makes a major contribution to our GDP, its contribution does not exceed 34%of the total.

Maintaining our economic growth in the light of the population reality that we all know requires prudent investment policies, serious follow-up by the government, and the enacting of laws and their mechanisms for implementation in a way that preserves the sovereignty of the country and the identity of its citizens and their security.

To achieve these objectives, the government has established a permanent national population committee and has planned for the providing of more jobs for nationals, particularly women.

Dear citizens, We are following with great interest the extensive efforts exerted by the local and federal authorities to upgrade the educational process, and we commend all educational initiatives that aim to promote vocational and technical education, so that we may achieve the goal of providing the community with qualified national personnel who can compete and satisfy the needs of our major strategic industries. This will enhance our capability, as a nation, to be economically competitive.

We confirm that the country is still committed to guarantee comfortable lives for our citizens and to provide them with the necessary education and training, with job opportunities in both the private and public sectors, with health services, with social care and with expanded housing programmes.

To achieve all these goals, we have issued a federal law for establishing the UAE Investment Authority, which is responsible for the administration of federal assets and investments inside and outside the country, a step that will provide more resources for the federal budget.

Dear citizens, Shedding light on the strategies and our future vision does not mean that we should overlook the present with its challenges and problems.

Though notable achievements have been made in the health services, educational feedback, the labour market, the policies of Emiratisation, our population policies, the effectiveness of our media and support for our young people, yet they are still below our expectations and our UAE standards. That is to say: the achievements do not match the money that has been spent, or our aspirations.

What we are facing is not a lack of resources because these are abundant, or a lack of vision because this exists, but, rather, some negative points of weakness, which have been recognised by the federal and local governments.

Hence, integrated follow-up systems have been put in place to monitor performance and to spread a culture of quality and excellence in conformity with our efforts to boost the efficiency of our social welfare and health and to promote the empowerment of women and of employees in the cultural and social sectors, the civil organisations and media.

We are looking forward to a comprehensive civilised approach that takes on board modernity without eclipsing the original features, so that we may preserve the country's values and identity.

There will be no compromise with whatever threatens our values, our traditions and language, which are the heart of our national identity and the soul of the nation and our heritage.

Thus, we must confront the negative effects of globalisation and the defects in the make-up of our population. Any infringement of our identity is an infringement of the country itself. Simply, it is a violation of the country's sanctity.

In this connection, we have instructed that new year that lies ahead for the federation shall be the year of National Identity, to strengthen the national elements and components of our society and to specify the threats to them.

Anyone lacking understanding of their identity is destined to remain in obscurity, whether now or in the future.

Dear citizens, The federal state is designed to preserve our identity, to enhance our capacities and to exercise our sovereignty. It ensures our security and stability in the Arabian Gulf, and, indeed, is a guarantee of support for our brothers in the Arab and Islamic worlds. It offers a progressive model in the management of international relations on a humanitarian and moral basis.

Respect for international legitimacy and solidarity, which has characterised our foreign policy for 36 years, has yielded its fruits.

We are committed to supporting right and justice so as to spread peace, justice and security and to encourage values among cultures and nations. These principles govern our diplomacy and reflect the course and conduct of our national identity, which is marked by wisdom, truth, transparency, gentleness, tolerance, moderation and realism.

In implementing all of these principles, the whole of the last year has seen extensive activity in the building of our balanced international relations, and in the development of bilateral and group partnerships to establish a more secure, stable regional system and a fair international community.

In all those efforts, the UAE interests were addressed, as well as the concerns of the Arab and Muslim nations.

We emphasised at every forum that the Arabian Gulf, of which we are a part, is both wealthy and a focus of the interests of others. Only by keeping tension away from the area can the security and stability of the region be attained. We reject any options that may upset the prevailing balance and that may plunge the region into phases with long-lasting repercussions.

We support the right of any country to seek access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We call on our neighbour, the Islamic Republic of Iran, to operate its nuclear programme in accordance with the needs of international peace and security.

We further call on the international community to be fair on this issue by bringing the Israeli nuclear installations under international supervision and control.

The islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa and their continental shelves and regional waters are a dear part and parcel of our country. We will spare no effort to have them restored to us and demand their return to our national sovereignty.

We have conveyed to the international community and to the leadership of Iran our grave concern over its continued occupation of these islands and we renew our invitation to Iran to enter into direct, bilateral negotiations or to refer the case to the International Court of Justice.

We also commit ourselves to accept the results of such arbitration, whatever they may be.

We further strongly reiterate that our approach to Arab and Islamic causes derives from true bonds of fraternity and belonging.

When a Muslim or an Arab feels hurt, wherever he may be, that hurt also affects the people of the United Arab Emirates. No Arab can feel secure and tranquil while he sees that the life and security of his brother is under threat.

We follow closely the serious violations in the Israeli conduct towards the Palestinian people and its continued occupation of beloved Arab territories. At the same time, we declare our support for any efforts designed to revive the Middle East peace process, to end the occupation and to establish the independent Palestinian state with the holy city of Jerusalem (Al Quds) as its capital.

We also look for more attention to be paid, both within the Arab world and internationally, to a healing of inter-Palestinian divisions, to helping Lebanon to overcome its current crisis, so that its security and stability may be preserved, and to achieving reconciliation and unity between rival groups in Somalia.

Further, we welcome the Arab, African and international efforts to find a solution to the long-raging Darfur crisis.

What is taking place in Iraq is a real tragedy. All parties, whether inside or outside the country, must seek for a way out of this dark and bloody tunnel. We appeal to all Iraqis to assume a more responsible role in tackling this calamity so as to spare the country a conflagration whose devastating consequences could pose threats to the region at large.

As we are committed to follow in the path drawn up by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in regards to the provision of all kinds of development, humanitarian and relief assistance to brotherly and friendly countries, we reiterate that the alleviation of poverty, the treatment of disease and the tackling of unemployment and terrorism and other ills from which the world suffers requires a sincere commitment from one particular part of the international community, namely the major industrialised countries.

We call for these nations to adopt affective mechanisms to ensure an equitable delivery of development and humanitarian assistance and the transfer of technology to developing nations in order to make the world safer and more stable.

In this contest, we commend the two initiatives launched by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to provide necessary funds for education of one million poor and deprived children all over the world and to allocate an endowment fund to the amount of US$ 10 billion to support knowledge and higher education in the Arab World.

Dear citizens, The spectacular achievements we have made and the high profile that our country has gained internationally require us to work, hard and with sincerity, to preserve these gains, to entrench the spirit of federation and to develop its institutions so as to open up a promising future.

We pray to the Almighty that He may bless our steps and grant us success in pursuing the march of progress and the prosperity of our country.

May there be glory and dignity for our Arab and Islamic nation and good and peace for all humanity.

Al Salaam Aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakat Khalifa bin Zayed Abu Dhabi 1st December. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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