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Symposium on "Khalifa: The Leader of the Nation"

posted on 31/10/2006: 717 views

The Information Affairs Office of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, organized today a symposium on "Khalifa: The Leader of the Nation" to commemorate the second anniversary of the Accession Day of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. A group of researchers participated in the event.

A statement by Sheikh Sultan stated that: 'The huge and steady achievements made in the land of the United Arab Emirates, throughout its outstanding march of civilization and progress, have been inevitable outcomes of the comprehensive care and sensible directions of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State (God protect him).

'These achievements have been attained in line with His Highness' judicious vision of future developments, and the foresight he has to develop the plans, programs, and resources needed to consolidate the bases of progress in all fields -economic, political, and social, he added.

Sheikh Sultan said that the wise leadership of H.H. President has elevated the United Arab Emirates to its distinct place among civilized nations, be it on the level of prudent and balanced decision or in terms of perfect, economic and social performance. All this made the country's stances and orientations an object of appreciation in the Arab and international arenas, in recognition of UAE's ability to effectively influence, and positively contribute to, the current events, he said.

In the opening session of the symposium, Mohammed Khalifa Al Murar, the Information Advisor to Deputy Prime Minister, described the event as a distinct, national occasion representing a brightening stage and an illuminating landmark in the nation's current march and progress.

He added, "The celebration today represents our gratitude and loyalty to the first steps down the road of developing this nation, and to the national revival made by late Sheikh Zayed (may Allah rest his soul in peace), who forged the UAE glories, established the identity of the nation, and built its great heritage.

On his part, H.E. William A. Rugh, former US ambassador to UAE, presented a paper entitled, "Appreciating the Emirates". He said that During his time as a US ambassador in the UAE (from 1992 until 1995), "I came to appreciate this country and its people in ways that I had not understood before I came here," expressing his regret that the American media rarely report on developments in the UAE, although they should.

The ambassador said during his stay in the UAE, he was especially impressed by a number of characteristics that he thought set the UAE apart, among which is that the UAE has followed foreign policy that has "sensibly handled the dilemma of conflicting objectives.", by supporting "principles of cooperation, conciliation, tolerance and peaceful settlement of disputes, while at the same time being strong and assertive when necessary." He praised the US-UAE relations, saying that, today good bilateral cooperation in many fields exists.

"Consultation and consensus comprise a strong tradition in this part of the world," he noted, indicating that in last December, the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, announced his plan to have half of the Federal National Council elected.

Rugh said, "This is an excellent step. The UAE approach is very sensible and rational", affirming, "It could be a model for other countries because it takes into accounts UAE traditions and the needs of the people, and because it is done gradually and calmly rather than under duress as so often happens in other countries."

He noted that the reality and future of the comprehensive development witnessed in UAE, he said that the achievement of the UAE in attracting very high level of foreign, direct investment is very important and very laudable. It shows that the UAE is a stable and therefore an attractive place to invest, he said, stating that this is a solid basis for future development.

He pointed out that, on the political level, the UAE achieved historic and remarkable progress under Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan that is to the great benefit of the people of the UAE and the world, and H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has built on this foundation to advance the country's political system further.

Dr. Jose Luis Pardo, Senior Advisor to Secretariat of State for EU Affairs, Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said in his paper, entitled, "EU-GCC Relations: In the Path From Cooperation to Association" that, to develop bilateral relations with Gulf States (and in this perspective UAE is certainly a priority as a partner country), the EU foreign policy approach to the States of the Gulf has been -directly and indirectly- predominantly regional.

He added that in this broad regional context, the EU has developed active and comprehensive strategies in neighbouring regions to the Gulf. Among these strategies, he added, is the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, established in 1995, and now reinforced by bilateral Action Plans in the framework of the new European Neighbourhood Policy.

He said that the biggest challenge is "for us to commonly identify new and concrete fields of co-operation, developing and implementing them on a practical and balanced way in order to give a value added not only to our welfare and stability but to the region and the whole world".

On his part, Theodore H. Kattouf, former US ambassador to UAE (from November 1998 through August 2001), said in his paper entitled, "Remarks to the Symposium "Khalifa: The Leader of the Nation", that the late Sheikh Zayed and his contemporaries, who founded the federation and developed it in its early years, were visionaries who genuinely cared about their people and tried to ensure that everyone shared in the development and higher standards of living that petrodollars made possible.

He added that the UAE leaders wanted to provide opportunities of universal education, health care, housing, and social welfare for the coming generations.

"His Highness President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan has already demonstrated that he is more than worthy of this legacy and the confidence that the federation's leaders have reposed in him", he pointed out, adding that economic growth continues at a startlingly high rate. He noted that the gains are poured into diversifying the economy of the UAE and creating new employment opportunities, saying that creating attractive new jobs for the country's youths goes hand in hand with providing expanding educational opportunities.

Speaking about political system, Kattouf explained that the educational curricula now include mandatory classes in civics, and young people are taught the importance of participating in their country's public life while showing respect and tolerance for those with different backgrounds and opinions. He added that H.H. Sheikh Khalifa intends to go further in developing the country's political institutions and their responsiveness to the citizenry of the UAE. He said "I applaud His Highness for putting in place a sound foundation on which the country's political institutions can be built.

He added, "I applaud this step and congratulate the leadership and people of the United Arab Emirates on expanding popular participation in debating issues of importance to the country. He noted that the utilization of 6000 electors is a good and major step toward more inclusivity in terms of the citizenry that will be followed by more.

Concerning the future of comprehensive development witnessed by UAE, he stated that it is wonderful the UAE has implemented market reforms and approved and implemented commercial laws that have made the UAE such an attractive place for foreign companies to locate and invest. He noted that diversification is a key element in ensuring the country's long-term economic dynamism and prosperity.

About the political system in UAE, Ambassador Kattouf said H.H. Sheikh Khalifa and his contemporaries are enriching and expanding educational and cultural legacy of his illustrious father and the founding generation. He mentioned that he is excited and encouraged by the quality of the new projects being undertaken on Saadiyat Island and elsewhere in UAE.

"The UAE is a leader in encouraging tolerance, respect, and understanding for other cultures, religions, and differing points of views, while preserving its own religious and cultural values".

On his part, professor Udo Steinbach, Director of German Institute for Middle East Studies, in his paper, entitled, "International Prospects of Abu Dhabi in a Changing World" said, "Ever since His Highness Sheikh Khalifa came to power he managed to strengthen the place of the UAE in the international system, both economically and politically". He described UAE economic experience as a "miracle", which have enabled UAE to find its place in the world economy, thus becoming a hub of world trade and business. He stated that this miracle "would not have been possible without close interaction with the business community worldwide." Speaking about the EU-Arab relations, Dr. Steinbach pointed out that the European Union (EU) and the Arab world are neighbours.

And with the end of the global confrontation between East and West, both sides now have the opportunity to learn what neighbourhood really means and to what extent it represents sort of "community of fate", he said. He said that "There are no cultural or religious biases (prejudices) in the [UAE] society, people from many cultures and civilizations are invited to contribute to development", indicating that the feeling. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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