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UAE Day at Expo Zaragoza 2008 marked

posted on 17/08/2008: 1689 views



Zaragoza - The UAE Day celebrations at Expo Zaragoza 2008, was marked Saturday amid unprecedented public and official presence in Spanish city of Zaragoza. The event was attended by UAE Ambassador to Spain Mohammed Sultan Al Qurtasi, Director General of National Media Council, Commissioner General of the UAE Pavilion at Zaragoza Expo 2008, Ibrahim Al Abed and other senior officials.

In a speech delivered at the UAE Day celebrations at Expo Zaragoza 2008 on Saturday, Ambassador Al Qurtasi, narrated the story of survival and development in arid country, where no single permanent-flowing river exists. He hailed sustained efforts of the UAE leadership in the developmental process.

Addressing a large multi-national gathering, Al Qurtasi said that the conservation of freshwater has been fundamental to the very existence of people in UAE for thousands of years. "We are using the desalination of seawater to meet our current needs, so we can conserve our scarce resources of natural groundwater', Al Qurtasi said.

"Beyond that, recognising the need for sustainability in its economic development, the UAE is actively looking at alternative energy sources to power its desalination plants and indeed to provide all its energy needs" , the ambassador added.

He stressed that the UAE always takes the task of conserving its environment, and the resources it contains, citing the Masdar City as an ideal initiative for the global search for future energy. "When completed, this imaginative urban development will become a global centre for ‘future energy' research and development".

The following is the full text of his speech: 'Your Excellency Emilio Fernandez Castenllar, Commissioner General of Expo Zaragoza 2008. Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here with you in Zaragoza to celebrate the United Arab Emirates Day at EXPO 2008.

For us in the UAE, this impressive event, in which so many nations are participating, is of particular importance. First, it provides us with an opportunity to showcase something of the development that our country has achieved in the less than four decades since it was established in 1971.

At the same time, its underlying theme, that of the need to conserve the world's water resources is something that has a special resonance for us in the Emirates. In our country, we do not have a single permanently-flowing river. The conservation of freshwater has been fundamental to our very existence for thousands of years.

Let me first, though, deal briefly with the process of rapid development through which the United Arab Emirates has been passing'.

When the UAE was formed in 1971, it lacked many of the basic elements of a modern society. Although oil production had commenced a few years earlier, there were few roads, very limited medical services, education was available only in the towns, and then mainly for boys. The telecommunications network was rudimentary and in the rural areas, little had changed for hundreds of years. The elements of our infrastructure had only recently begun to be built and, apart from the oil sector, modern industry was non-existent. And, while the desire for development and progress existed - as well as the determination to achieve it - we were held back by one fundamental constraint: that of our shortage of fresh water.

The UAE's first President, Sheikh Zayed, supervised the process of our national development from 1971 onwards for over three decades, creating the modern state of today. That process was made possible because of his visionary leadership and also because of his decision to ensure that the revenues from oil production were used to build our infrastructure and to diversify our economy away from dependence on a single depletable source.

A key part of the development programme was that of ensuring that sufficient fresh water was available - for domestic use, for agriculture and for industry.

As a result of a gradual process of climate change, annual rainfall declined dramatically. A reason for which, over three thousand years ago, our ancestors developed highly sophisticated engineering skills that made it possible to excavate underground tunnels to tap into water sources beneath the surface, and to make use of that water for agriculture. Such channels, or Aflaj, are still in use in some areas today.

Our historical ability to innovate and to make use of the latest technology in the search for freshwater can be seen today, Thanks to the prudent policy and directives of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al- Nahyan President of the United Arab Emirates. We are using the desalination of seawater to meet our current needs, so we can conserve our scarce resources of natural groundwater.

Beyond that, recognising the need for sustainability in its economic development, the UAE is actively looking at alternative energy sources to power its desalination plants and indeed to provide all its energy needs.

The UAE always takes the task of conserving its environment, and the resources it contains, very seriously indeed, through launching several projects in this sector like the usage of the residual water for agriculture and building projects, as well as applying the alternative energy to help us have a clean environment.

I am delighted that the UAE Pavilion includes a small display by the ground-breaking company, Masdar, which is now building a zero carbon city in Abu Dhabi. When completed, this imaginative urban development will become a global centre for ‘future energy' research and development. Masdar is nowadays, carrying out Projects in Spain and other parts of the World for the production of the alternative energy from solar energy, in cooperation with most important International renowned companies in this field, to diversify energy sources that are friendly and conducive to creating a clean environment.

So from the Aflaj of 3,000 years ago to the Masdar City of today and tomorrow, the UAE has been engaged in the search for ways of ensuring that its natural resources are exploited in a sustainable manner.

And, as we look to the future, the UAE is planning wisely for the challenges ahead, be the climate change, energy demand or sustainable sources of fresh water.

The UAE is proud to play an active role in BIE and to participate at this impressive EXPO event. On behalf of the UAE Government, I convey the country's congratulations to the Spanish Government and to EXPO organisers for creating a spectacular development.

UAE was keen to participate affectively in EXPO because it provides us with an opportunity to share our experiences of a changing and challenging world. EXPO encourages us to reflect on our progress and on the paths we have taken .and, perhaps most importantly, they focus our attention on where we are heading.

One thing that EXPO reminds us all is that none of us are isolated entities. We live in a connected world as members of a global community. EXPOs such as this one remind us that we can make great progress if we work together in a spirit of cooperation and friendship. The UAE is happy to play its role in this process, working with others to make our world a better place and ensuring that future generations will look back with pride at what we accomplished.

Finally, I welcome you all to the UAE Pavilion and hope that you will enjoy the experience'. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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