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Summary - National day 2001

posted on 30/11/2001: 1385 views


On 2nd December 2001, the federation of the United Arab Emirates will mark the 30th anniversary of its establishment in 1971. Led throughout this period by President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE is proud of its achievement in emerging as one of the worlds fastest developing countries, and one which, at the same time, enjoys prosperity, security and good relations with most of the international community. Over the past year, the UAE has continued to develop successfully, consolidating its position as one of the most important commercial hubs in the Middle East and the Western Indian Ocean.



During the course of the past twelve months, the Government of the United Arab Emirates has continued to play its full part as a responsible and caring member of the international community. In common with the rest of the world, the country was deeply shocked and horrified by the 11th September terrorist attacks in the United States. It has strongly condemned these attacks as alien to all human values, noting also that Islam utterly rejects such acts that result in the loss of innocent human life.. The UAE has extended its full backing to the campaign to root out terrorism, and has, in particular, moved rapidly to ensure that its territory is not used as a hiding place for terrorists, and that its open-door economy is not utilised by those who finance terror. Through the passing of new legislation on money-laundering, and through the freezing of bank accounts said to be linked to the terror network, the UAE has played an important role in helping to curb these networks.



At the same time, aware of the necessity to alleviate the sufferings of the people of Afghanistan, both those who are inside the country and those who are refugees, the country has taken a major part in international efforts to deal with the humanitarian efforts of the crisis.



Another major focus of Emirates foreign policy has been the continuing crisis in the Middle East, caused by the intransigence of the Israeli Government and by Israels violent repression of the Palestinian people. Providing large sums in relief and other assistance to the Palestinians, the Government of the UAE has also continued to support all international diplomatic efforts designed to contribute towards the bringing about of a just, secure and lasting peace settlement, in accordance with United Nations resolutions and the principles of international legitimacy, in which the rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to establish their own state, with Jerusalem as its capital, are guaranteed. The UAE believes that it is only through such a settlement that the conflict can be brought to an end.



During the last year, the UAE also continued to show its commitment to the framework of international peace-keeping and relief operations through its participation in the United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping forces in Kosovo and in relief operations in Macedonia. The UAE contingent completed its term of service in October 2001, and returned to the Emirates, having made a significant contribution not only to the restoration of peace and security to this troubled part of south-eastern Europe, but also to the rebuilding of the infrastructure of Kosovo.



At home, despite the vagaries of the world oil market, the economy of the United Arab Emirates has made steady progress during 2001. The burgeoning tourist industry suffered briefly following the 11th September attacks in the United States, as did tourism throughout the world, but quickly recovered. Tourism is now one of the fastest-developing components of the UAE economy, helped not only by the way in which the countrys international airports have consolidated their positions as regional hubs, but also by the success of the UAEs own national carriers, Emirates and Gulf Air.



Another major step forward in strengthening the UAEs position as a key centre of communications was the successful commencement of operations during the year by the Thurayya satellite telecommunications company, an affiliate of local telecommunications firm ETISALAT. Linked to local service providers throughout the North Africa and the Middle East and West Asia, Thurayya will help to underline the UAEs pre-eminence as a regional centre of commerce and trade.



Significant progress has also been made in the United Arab Emirates over the past year in terms of the expansion of its non-oil industrial infrastructure. The successful privatisation of the water and electricity sector in the largest of the seven Emirates, Abu Dhabi, has generated a substantial inflow of foreign investment for the building of new plants, while, with the support of the countrys Offsets Programme, plans are now under way for the expansion of the water and power network in the other Emirates and for the establishment of a national grid. This will later be linked up to grids throughout the six member states of the Gulf Co-operation Council, including, besides the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.



Also attracting attention during the year has been the need for continuing investment in the sectors of education and health. The network of higher Îducational institutions has been further expanded, while in the field of health, several major new hospitals have been opened, including the state-of-the-art Sheikh Khalifa Hospital in Abu Dhabi.



The commitment of the United Arab Emirates to the protection of the environment has also been a focus of Government action, both at a federal and at a local level. New legislation on the conservation of marine resources has been fully enforced, while, at an international level, the UAE was the driving force early in the year behind the adoption of an Abu Dhabi Declaration by Arab Environment Ministers, which laid down the principles for environmental protection and sustainable development throughout the Arab world for the 21st Century. The first Zayed International Prize for the Environment was announced during the year, the winner being former US President Jimmy Carter, selected for his work in promoting environmental awareness and sustainable development amongst some of the worlds poorest communities.



The progress made by the United Arab Emirates over the thirty years since the federation was established in 1971 has been made possible not only by the determination and vision of the countrys President HH Sheikh Zayed, but also by fact that the country has been fortunate enough to be blessed with huge reserves of oil and gas, both onshore and offshore. During the course of 2001, several major new projects for development of the oil and gas industry in Abu Dhabi have been approved, part of plans to develop sustainable production capacity to over 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. Work is now also well under way on planning for a major Gulf gas network that will deliver gas from the UAE offshore and from Qatar to fuel industrial development in the northern emirates and further afield.



Other important steps in the industrial sphere have included the agreement of plans to expand Dubais aluminium smelter, already one of the worlds largest, while the readiness of the UAE to adapt to the explosive growth in the new global industry of information technology has been shown by the launching and rapid expansion of the Dubai Internet and Dubai Media Cities. Both types of development, as well as growth in other sectors, like tourism, have continued to help in the process if diversifying the national economy away from dependence on oil and gas, which now represent only around a third of the Gross Domestic Product, despite the fact that the UAE remains one of the worlds top oil producers.



All of this development has taken place against a background of continued stability and social harmony inside the Emirates. As the people of the United Arab Emirates look back over the past year, they are, rightly, confident of their ability to face the challenges of the years ahead.

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