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Statement by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on the 44th UAE National Day

posted on 02/12/2015: 1948 views

On the occasion of the 44th National Day of the UAE, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has issued a statement to Dira'a Al Watan, The Nation Shield, magazine.

Below is the statement in full: "In The Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful, Dear men and women citizens, Peace be upon you all.

On the occasion of our 44th National Day, I would like to greet you all.

I would also like to greet my brothers, 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, Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates.

I also extend my greetings to the commanders, officers and soldiers of our courageous Armed Forces who are the shield of our country and its keen sword, and our ever-watchful security services protecting our country, our people as well as our guests.

My greetings also to our loyal martyrs and congratulate them on attaining this sublime status in Paradise and in our national psyche, and their families who maintain strong faith in God and sincere national loyalty, and to whom I say: Your sons granted you, your country and people an unrivaled honour and revived the memory of our forefathers who protected this land to which they gave everything and for which they sacrificed their lives.

Almighty Allah chose the martyrs to be in Heaven and to be our source of honour as their exploits bless our country and people with better well-being. Their blood runs in the veins of our country, bolstering its immunity, strength and dignity.

The radiance of martyrdom is engulfing our society and people, enhancing cohesion and solidarity.

Our martyrs' lives continue to inspire our young generations and tell the stories of sincere men, men who have been true to their covenant with Allah and have never changed their determination in the least. These are the stories of heroic fathers, brothers, cousins, fellow tribesmen and compatriots.

The martyrs and their fellow servicemen show once again that Emiratis are up to the challenges everywhere and to the ups and downs, however severe, and that they are generous in good times and in bad, and in times of peace and war.

Emiratis have proven that they are capable of building development and achieving renaissance, and that they are intrepid and firm too.

They have shown their true essence when they responded to the call of duty and proved that prosperity has not made us idle, but rather it has fueled our strength and determination and showed that the very gains we have made stimulate us to preserve and protect them.

Dear men and women citizens, Our martyrs have added a sublime dimension to our National Day celebrations, and from now on, the National Day and Martyrs Day will be celebrated together to show the highest dedication to patriotism, uphold the values of generous giving, as martrydom is an unrivalled honour and sacrificing one's life for the homeland is the most sublime offering.

It is enough honour for the martyrs that they have honoured our history and our present, and revived the memory of those who were martyrs in the past and became pole-stars adding more light to our present and future too, to show us the way, sharpen our determination and our urge for more offerings for the nation.

It is enough honour for them that they further ennobled our Armed Forces as they embodied the ethics of national service and revived the spirit of sacrifice.

Greetings to the servicemen, the comrades of the martyrs, and to all commanders, officers and soldiers for responding to the call of duty and showing their efficiency and professionalism in Operation Decisive Storm and Operation Restoring Hope.

The performance of the air, land and sea services of the UAE Armed Forces proves once again that our approach to development was efficient and right. The building of a modern national army of the highest level of professionalism was a top priority during the establishment of the UAE Federation which was launched on this day 44 years ago by the founding father and symbol of the Union, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may Allah bless his soul. It is the priority that became even more important during the stage of empowerment and excellence led by my brother, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and supervised by my other brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Dear Emirati men and women, Since our state was established, we have continued to commit ourselves to the principles of international law, seek peaceful co-existence with our neighbours, expand our friendship with all the world's countries and reject the use of force, or the threat of force, to resolve disputes and settle conflicts.

At the same time, we are interested in building our capabilities to protect our country, independence and gains, and ward off whoever plans to assault or damage our security and stability.

We were and will always be people of peace, building and development. But we will counter whoever plots to target us with evil acts, they will be fended off by us using full force, and if war is imposed on us, then we will fight. We have never embarked on aggression on others, but we are always ready to counter whoever attempts to attack us.

Our forces taking part in Operation Decisive Storm and Operation Restoring Hope are fighting a war that was imposed on us. Our Arab brothers and us responded to the call of Yemen to stand up for its people and legitimacy, counter the aggression before it expands and settles in the country, and thwart its treacherous fire from spilling over to set the region ablaze and pose serious threats to the stability, security and gains of the states of this region.

The aggressors cannot recognise the fact that the the shared security of the Gulf Cooperation member states is part and parcel of Arab security. They also fail to recognise that the security of the GCC countries is closely connected with the security of Yemen and that the GCC countries will not allow Yemen to become a source of danger for their security and stability. Since the situation in Yemen exploded in early 2011, the GCC countries have been trying to help Yemenis to get out of the bottleneck of disputes and violence, to find reconciliation and development. The GCC exerted efforts for Yemen on two tracks: a political track represented by the GCC Initiative, and an economic track where conferences for Yemen donors and Friends of Yemen were held. Thanks to the success made on both tracks, Yemen went along the path of peace, reconstruction and building, until the coup against the legitimate government took place undermining all these achievements and threatening to be the start of a permanent threat to the security of Saudi Arabia and all other members of the GCC, which are taking up the responsibility of bringing about change for the better in the Arab region.

As the Arab Coalition continues to achieve its goals following its success in restoring legitimacy to most of Yemen, we look forward to an end of this war based on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution No. 2216, rooting out the evil, restoring Yemen to its people, and entering, with the help of its Arab brotherly countries, the stage of reconstruction already initiated in the liberated areas.

Dear citizens, In addition to our necessary intervention in the Yemeni crisis, we are involved in other exacerbating crises in other Arab countries that drove the Arab Region into a crucial and historical phase that will determine the destiny of Arabs and the future of security and stability not only in the Middle East, but also in the whole world.

These crises put the Arab region to a hard test, forced the GCC countries to face threats - the development of which they were not responsible for - and to reluctantly bear responsibilities. Making overall success in countering these challenges requires stronger unity of the GCC countries, and unified stances on Arab crises so that differences would not undermine the achievements made by the GCC, domestically in particular. I pin great hopes on the leaders and the 36th GCC Summit, to be held in a few days time in Riyadh.

Dear sons and daughters: As we play our role in Yemen and counter the challenges that the Arab region is facing, we never forget that these challenges do not imply risks only, but also avenues for development. We in the UAE see several such avenues and spare no effort to join hands with our brothers as we recognise the nature and volume of the perils surrounding our Arab nation.

We do recognise the possibility of building a new pan-Arab regime that preserves the existence of Arabs, protects their rights, curbs foreign interference in their affairs and gives them positive effectiveness in their region where regional powers are vying for influence, and international powers are jostling to achieve their own interests, unconcerned about the interests and the fate of others.

The crisis that the Syrian people is going through is the best instance here. The Arab countries which succeeded in building a coalition around Operation Decisive Storm and Operation Restoring Hope can be the solid core of the hoped-for pan-Arab regional regime.

We think that there is a need to highlight straightforward religion and promote the role it plays in unifying our nation and stimulating its growth and progress. Close the gaps through which extremism, fanaticism, terrorism and hatred can enter. We have no alternative but to engage in a crucial confrontation with those who use religion to achieve goals that are not among the goals authorised by religion. Those that defaced our straightforward religion more than the enemies of religion could, and have done, inflict on all Muslims damages that are unprecedented in terms of scale, depth and consequences.

In these spheres, we don't have the luxury of choosing, leaving or postponing to choose a certain option, because Arabs are at a crucial historical crossroads. Our option is that we should approach opportunities and join hands with our brothers to take our nation to safety, development and growth.

Dear men and women citizens, External challenges received due attention from our government and people, but this was not at the expense of our attention to our internal affairs. Rather, they induced further work and achievements in all domains of national work. Your government has bolstered its approach to strategic planning, launch of projects and new initiatives, as well as to adopting the best practices in government work, execution of plans, innovating initiatives for empowerment, excellence and development.

The 43rd year of our federation featured new achievements and gains that contribute towards the growth of our citizens' capabilities, boost comprehensive development with additional elements of sustainability, strengthen the stature of our country and help it achieve higher rankings on global competitiveness indices of overall development and competitiveness. For instance, our country is one of the world's top ten countries on 12 out of 21 indices of government work, quality of decisions, lack of bureaucracy, government priorities for travel and tourism sectors and quality of road networks. It also ranked second globally on indicators such as citizens' confidence in government and leadership after Singapore, which has been in the top place for many years.

Our country advanced on all indicators of research, development and innovation and can hold its place among countries with innovation-based economies, including the world's majors, i.e. the U.S., Germany, Switzerland and Singapore. It also preserved its ranking as the second best in the world in terms of quality of infrastructure, and advanced to third place on the indicator of foreign direct investment, technology transfer and ability to retain talents. It also advanced from 18th to the 9th place in terms of internet access at schools, from 14th to 11th in terms of quality of nurseries, and from15th to12th in terms of the quality of the educational system and efficient training of education staff.

As usual, we approved the 2016 federal budget early as part of the second three-year cycle (2014-2017) in line with the government's strategy to continue to rationalise financial spending, maximise its return, efficiency and transparency. The federal government budget, estimated at AED48.556 billion, was approved with zero deficit, with the largest part of it being geared towards sectors serving Emiratis.

While the cabinet is successfully carrying out a roadmap for a shift to smart government, and seeks to increase the usage rate of smart services to 80% by 2018, we continue the Government Leaders Programme we launched in 2003, a women leaders programme and the Leader of the 21st Century model to prepare national leaders with a global perspective, capable of adapting to fast-paced changes, leading work teams to promote their creative thinking and encouraging them to take the initiative, engage in experiences and innovate solutions.

As part of our growing positive interaction with rising global trends in fields such as energy, advanced technology and knowledge-based economy, we have launched the Emirates Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy which includes 100 national initiatives in the educational sector, health, energy, transportation, space and water. The plan foresees an investment of over AED300 billion and includes new national policies in legislation, investment, technology, education and finance. Its goal is to build a vibrant knowledge economy in the UAE. The plan is aimed at capacity-building, nurturing talents, promoting a national culture conductive of innovation, entrepreneurship and providing services that advance the quality of life and drive our economy to new avenues.

Our country, which ranks first in the Arab region in terms of innovation, is determined to be among the best in the world in this field in the coming few years as innovation is the pivot of sectors driving global economy for today and in the future. The more we spread the culture of innovation in our society, schools, universities and public and private sectors, the stronger, more effective and competitive our presence in these sectors will become.

These initiatives and projects provide us will additional tools to complete and accelerate our shift to a knowledge-based economy, expand our economy and deepen its diversity and contribute to higher growth rates in non-oil sectors to minimise the impact of falling oil prices on our economy and enable it to continue growth and sustainability.

In this context, fuel subsidies were cut to also promote green economy, a pillar of sustainable development and diversification of income. We are confident that this decision will increase the efficient use of energy and resources, curb emissions and environmental pollution, encourage investment in renewable energy, back our country's leadership in this field and our plans to produce 24% of our electricity from clean energy by 2021.

Dear men and women citizens It is difficult here to cite all the success and achievements we made in the past year, but still some of them were important milestones.

The initiative of my brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, to establish The Martyrs' Families' Affairs Office, MFAO, at the Court of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince was the most important, as it shows that our people take pride in the martyrs and appreciate their sublime giving. The initiative also created an institutional framework to honour the martyrs, celebrate their memory, take full care of their children and families, fulfill their needs and promote their welfare. The office shows further embodiment of the cohesion between the UAE leaders and citizens and adds a boost to our social values of solidarity and the value of giving to the nation.

This year, we also succeeded in securing Visa-free entry to the EU Schengen zone for our citizens. This exemption from visa requirements reflects the stature and good reputation of our state and represents an appreciation of the efficiency of our government and security institutions and the good traits of Emiratis.

I thank H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Foreign Minister, and his team for their high professionalism and continuous efforts to enable this success.

Another important milestone this year was the successful third National Federal Council elections which featured expansion of electoral colleges (to 224,304, up from129,274 in 2011, an 82% increase).

The elections were crowned by the election of Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi as Speaker of the Council. Al Qubaisi has become the first Arab woman to hold this post, an achievement that shows that the success of our approach to empowering women and bolstering their role in all fields of national work, on an equal basis with men, is a successful one. In this way, political development goes on the rise and assumes its full role in comprehensive development and the national empowerment programme launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Another milestone this year was the enactment and enforcement of the anti-discrimination law, the first of its kind in our region and in the wider Arab region. It represents an important additional achievement in our legislation on human rights and duties. The law, which shows the civilisational level of our state, is an important one as it was based on Islamic Sharia and embodies our values and traditions, putting emphasis on good ethics, the pillars of our religion. The new law is an addition to our assets, the strength of our social fabric as well as the mechanisms of protecting our country and people from the plagues of fanaticism, discrimination and hate spread by extremist and terrorist ideologies and ignorance, in Arab and Muslim countries as well as across the globe.

Dear men and women citizens, We are well and so is our country.

On the occasion of the National Day, and as we recall the journey of establishing our state and society, we are overwhelmed by the feeling of pride in the vibrant UAE model that is full of achievements, and our national loyalty and belonging become even stronger. We also recall the challenges which we faced and all of which we were able to overcome, as we grow more self-confident, become more confident in our approach and policies and more assured about our present and future.

Challenges do not frighten or confuse us, rather they stimulate us to develop our assets and self-power and double our efforts in work, adeptness, initiatives and innovation. They also encourage us to strengthen our cohesion, solidarity, caution and giving to the nation.

I stress here that your leaders continue to look to the future and prepare to confront all the challenges that it holds, full of hope and relying on trust in Allah, in your arms and minds and your interest in the glory of your country, its security, stability and gains.

Let us all pray to Almighty Allah, thank and glorify Him and ask Him to continue to bless us and our work, enable our success and guide us to the right path.

May Allah's peace be Upon you all." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


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