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UAE Government Strategy informed by "Tamkeen" speech: Mohammed bin Rashid

posted on 18/04/2007: 2035 views

The UAE GOVERNMENT STATEGY has been inspired by the Empowerment "Tamkeen" speech, delivered by President H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the 34th anniversary of the UAE National Day, said H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President , Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

In an extensive speech on the launch of the UAE Federal Strategy, Sheikh Mohammed said: "The UAE GOVERNMENT STATEGY has been inspired by the Empowerment "Tamkeen" speech, which gave us the roadmap to follow on the 34th anniversary of the Federation, the core message of which is to ensure sustainable development and a high standard of living for all UAE nationals".

Sheikh Mohammed also congratulated HH Sheikh Khalifa and Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates and the people of the UAE, on the country's achievement of the top position in the Arab World in terms of Competitiveness and Transparency.

This wonderful achievement, he said, has been accomplished under the guidance and vision of Sheikh Khalifa just within 14 months of his leadership.

Sheikh Mohammed said the UAE GOVERNMENT STRATEGY sets the foundations for a new era of public policy. He also paid tribute the founding fathers of the UAE, saying their "high integrity in living up to the trust bestowed upon them, how they fulfilled their duties towards this land and its people, and how they left us with a clear conscience, self fulfilment and the love and appreciation of their people".

He added: "We followed their lead in building this country, guided by their ultimate devotion, absorbing their wisdom and generosity, and embracing their teachings and guidelines. Our inspiration is their strong will, unfaltering steps, and determination to conquer challenges in order to make our vision and our people's hopes and aspirations come true. They have entrusted us with a strong legacy and we ask Allah to help us and bless us with a determination, clear vision and loyal men to continue the work that they began", he said.

Following is the full text of Sheikh Mohammed's speech:

HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, Your Highnesses Members of the Supreme Federal National Council, Ladies and Gentlemen, Assalamu Aleikum, First of all, I would like to congratulate HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates and the people of the UAE, for the achieving the top position in the Arab World in terms of Competitiveness and Transparency. This wonderful achievement has been accomplished under your guidance and vision, within 14 months of your leadership. We hope that this is the beginning of a new era of achievements. We aspire and are determined to take the lead not only regionally but also internationally.

I am honoured and pleased to present to you on this historic day the UAE GOVERNMENT STRATEGY that will provide direction to our nation in the years to come.

Your Highness, The UAE GOVERNMENT STATEGY has been inspired by the Empowerment "Tamkeen" speech. It is based on your vision that gave us the roadmap to follow on the 34th anniversary of the Federation, the core message of which is to ensure sustainable development and a high standard of living for all UAE nationals.

My brothers, We are gathered here today to talk about the aspirations of our citizens, about their children's education, about providing them with good living, and offering them high quality services in every facet of life. We are gathered here today to talk about the different ways to overcome the changes that face our nation.

We will also discuss the future, the hopes and ambitions of our government, our vision for the future and our strategy to compete and lead in the race to excellence.

Today, as we present the UAE GOVERNMENT STRATEGY, which sets the foundations for a new era of public policy, we remember with reverence and appreciation, with love and loyalty, our founding fathers who endeavoured, sacrificed and worked hard to build this nation. We remember their devotion to their country and people, their relentless efforts to give us a better life and to compensate for the hardships our people endured before the Union.

We remember their high integrity in living up to the trust bestowed upon them, how they fulfilled their duties towards this land and its people, and how they left us with a clear conscience, self fulfilment and the love and appreciation of their people.

We followed their lead in building this country, guided by their ultimate devotion, absorbing their wisdom and generosity, and embracing their teachings and guidelines. Our inspiration is their strong will, unfaltering steps, and determination to conquer challenges in order to make our vision and our people's hopes and aspirations come true. They have entrusted us with a strong legacy and we ask Allah to help us and bless us with a determination, clear vision and loyal men to continue the work that they began.

Brothers & Sisters, We have learned from our founding fathers and from you, Your Highness, that changing times require a change in approach, and if leadership fails to adapt to change, the nation as a whole inevitably falls behind.

The changing times and the nature of the challenges prompt us to think in a different way. Based on present experiences, we seek best solutions for the future. By adopting global best practices in public policy we aim to take a step closer through this strategy that unifies all capabilities and synergizes all efforts within a clear framework.

The government was guided by the National Programme that was launched by HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in December 2005. It was approved and adopted by the Supreme Federal Council in the same month. Therefore, the objectives of this strategy concur with the objectives of HH's National Programme of ensuring sustainable development and a high standard of living for all UAE nationals. We will follow all possible paths to achieve our aspired goals of developing our human capital.

The UAE GOVERNMENT STRATEGY is comprised of 21 topics under six major sectors including: social development, economic development, public sector development, justice and safety, infrastructure and rural areas development.

The general principles of the strategy are as follows: "Maintain continuous cooperation between Federal and local authorities " Revitalize the regulatory and policy making role of the ministries, and improve decision-making mechanisms " Increase the efficiency of governmental bodies, and upgrade the level of services based on customer needs " Develop civil service regulations and human resources, focusing on competence, effective Emiratisation and leadership training " Empower Ministries to manage their activities inline with public and joint policies " Review and upgrade legislations and regulations Six ministerial teams, together with 16 ministers, were establish and assigned to draw up this strategy, with the support and participation of around 500 government officials and leaders.

The document itself, running into hundreds of pages, provides a comprehensive perspective of the current situation in each sector, sets desired objectives and proposes the necessary recommendations to meet those objectives. I will, therefore, only present a summary of the main features of this strategy, without going into details of the current situation in each of the six sectors. The current situation is perplexed, lacks strategic planning, suffers from a deficiency in the legislative and regulatory framework and lacks clear policies governing various vital activities of the government.

I believe that the reason for this constrained situation is the dimension and speed of change that has overtaken the international arena during the past few years. The slow pace by which federal institutions in all parts of the world responded to this change has not made it any better, primarily due to the nature and complexity of the federal state where the process of decision making goes through a longer path than in simple mono-provincial states.

However, we are determined to overcome this tardiness by bringing a total change in the federal government processes that will not only improve governance, but will also enhance the synergy and improve the mechanism of cooperation between the federal and the local governments.

In fact, we have already begun the process of developing the legislative and executive functions of the federal institutions, and we expect a greater acceleration with the full implementation of the UAE GOVERNMENT Strategy.

Priority coordination between the federal and the local governments is one of the most important and vital elements. The Federal Government specializes in all legislations pertaining to economic, trade, labour, education and health regulations. The Federal Government should be attuned to all changes and developments as the local governments are in charge of implementing most activities that support the development of the country.

Brothers & Sisters, Our ultimate goal, true desire to progress and grow, our common future and destiny, compel us to establish better cooperation between the federal and the local entities, and hence build a comprehensive system and harmonize our efforts to achieve our common objectives.

I, therefore, call upon you to develop local strategies that complement our Federal Plan and vision, and we pledge our complete support to help formulate local strategies and exchange expertise in this regard. Consequently, if coordination is not effective gaps will evolve and exceptions will rise and time will be wasted, and upon of us have the luxury to waste time in this fast developing world that knows no waiting.

Your Highness Ladies and Gentlemen Providing our people with a higher standard of living has always been the goal of the country's leadership. The government was never tardy in exerting its efforts and using all its available resources to ensure social and human development of the UAE, and we are deeply grateful to Allah for all the success that we have achieved so far.

The Federation has spent billions of dirhams on developing education, healthcare, housing, social welfare, culture, youth and sports. However, despite the huge spending, the outcome has remained below our aspirations and lower than the potential of the country. In certain sectors, such as education and healthcare, the returns were modest and the outcome weak.

What I say may not please the experts in those two sectors, as they constantly claim that this result is due to insufficient funds, which in my opinion, is wrong and I will explain why.

The budget for education has increased annually over for the past 20 years or more accompanied with several plans, projects, suggestions, policies and promises. Yet, the outcome has constantly been weakening. Even when education officials decided to restrict public schools to UAE national students, the education budget remained on the rise, expenditure per student increase yet the outcomes did not improve.

Here I ask, what does the budget have to do with obsolete teaching methods and curricula? Does the budget force the quality of the curricula? Is the budget limiting educators to resort to the same old fashioned teaching methods that encourage memorization instead of research? As if the objective of education is to measure the memory capabilities of students, instead of providing them with the knowledge necessary to meet life's challenges and the ability to think and choose? What strikes me most is that the Ministry of Education, since its establishment, has made use of the best experts and consultants, did not spare any effort to send delegations to learn about other developed education systems in the world, and hence drew up excellent visualizations and plans. But the problem lies in implementation, the problem lies in managing the education sector, and most importantly, in the indecisive and undecided culture.

A culture that is content with identifying problems, finding solutions and announcing them in the media without any sort of implementation, or in some cases backing up in the initial stages of the implementation when obstacles arise.

The easiest way to justify negligence is by pointing out budget constraints, and presenting international comparisons in education expenditure to demonstrate that the UAE has a low level of education expenditure as a percentage of GDP when compared with the rest of the world.

These comparisons however are misleading, and do not take into consideration factors like population and number of students. Also, it does not take into account the spending by local governments, in addition to the budgets of private schools that are almost equal to those of public schools.

This ambiguous situation in education will not continue.

The Federation never hesitated in providing the education sector with all its needs. However, if we were to spend ten times of what we spend today without finding innovative, comprehensive and suitable solutions, we will not achieve better results. The current status of our education system is compiling huge losses to the UAE and its people, and here are some examples.

The weakness of our education system has affected the standard of our high school graduates. As a result, the higher education system suffers the most. Our students are incapable of pursuing their college education without special support programmes extending for a year or two before they embark on their actual university curricula.

Such programmes not only drain around a third of the higher education budgets, but also waste students' lives. If the funds spent by higher education were efficiently used by the pre-university education programmes, students would be able to save two years in which they could be productive, and the UAE would eventually save tens of thousands of productivity years.

I demand that the Ministers of Education and Higher Education resolve the issue of the support programmes by integrating them in the high school curricula, starting with the next school year, thereby solving this issue within the next three years.

I have spoken extensively on education to underline its importance. There is no room for compromises in education, and I will accept nothing short of total commitment and full-fledged effective and successful implementation.

The same applies to the healthcare sector.

We are not short of doctors, nor hospitals, clinics, or advanced equipment.

However, we have problems in the quality of healthcare services. The reason lies again in the management of healthcare services.

Medical sciences are advancing at a very fast pace, while we have doctors who have not updated their knowledge or attended a single medical conference in 20 years.

We have hospitals that provide state-of-the-art facilities, but still lack the required quality standards, proper competences and continuous training. We have to change the code of ethics of doctors, nurses, and hospitals. We have to design new laws and regulations that ensure the implementation of international best practices in licensing, doctors, hospitals, clinics and laboratories.

The government's healthcare strategy aims to obtain the best health insurance system and encourages the private sector to play a bigger role in developing the healthcare system in the UAE.

We will now talk about population and the labour sector, which occupies the mind of leadership and the people, and poses a series of challenges that everyone knows.

The government strategy will focus on developing a comprehensive population policy that will tackle the population situation in the UAE.

However, society has to bear responsibility for this problem as well.

Domestic help accounts for 10% of the total labour force in the UAE, a very high figure for which society in general, and UAE nationals in particular, are responsible for. The number of domestic help in some families exceeds the size of the family itself. Most families maintain a number of domestic help which is beyond their actual need.

Tackling this phenomenon lies in the hands of society. The government however, will introduce measures to organize domestic labour, starting with a unified system and labour contract that will be implemented from next month.

The UAE also faces a problem with labour engaged in marginal economic activities. We have to take immediate measures to stop giving licenses to activities that have no defined impact on the national economy. The government's solutions are mainly centred around encouraging our youth, though projects such as "Aswaaq", that relies on the latest technology to reduce the reliance on marginal labour and creates investment opportunities for young UAE nationals.

Some believe that UAE's development strategies hinder the resolution of the population problem, considering that sustainable development and attracting foreign investments require more foreign expertise and hence more expatriate labour flow to the UAE. How do we strike a balance? Balancing between the two is attainable. If we improve the management of our economic restructuring efforts towards the knowledge economy, develop our education system, boost our human resources potential and legislation, and improve the performance of ministries and institutions. It is possible if we reinstall work's high social ethical values, and if we are able to establish proper collaboration between federal and local governments.

Furthermore, Emiratisation is a priority for both the National Programme and the UAE Government Strategy. We aspire to find UAE nationals occupy all different levels of jobs and at the heart of economic development of our nation.

Wishes are legitimate, and dreams are the goals that people aspire to achieve. However, if dreams do not stem from reality they cannot be achieved and thus turn into a mirage.

Our youth should have the qualifications and expertise to compete in both government and private sectors. It is very easy to impose Emiratisation.

We can do this any time, but what would we gain if we did not provide our youth with the best knowledge, skill and expertise to commensurate with these jobs? Five years ago, the Minister of Labour issued a number of decrees to Emiratise certain jobs within two years. I appreciate his dedication and enthusiasm, but his decisions were not successful, because they ignored reality as well as the nation's priorities, such as the decision to Emiratise secretarial jobs. As important as secretarial jobs are, as all jobs are important, yet we need to have UAE nationals in more important roles and responsibilities.

The same applies with the decree on Emiratising the positions of HR managers within 18 months. A scarce skill, that is in high demand on both local and global fronts.

However, if we decide to place UAE nationals in such positions, we have to make sure we provide them with the required knowledge and expertise.

Our success in achieving this goal is tied to the extent we develop UAE skills and talents.

I have realized long ago the importance of developing the UAE nationals' capabilities. I have established an institute for human resources development, in addition to various other programmes aimed at developing leadership skills among youth, and will work on developing the institute of administrative development.

We need real and effective Emiratisation, and we are capable of that within a comprehensive plan that integrates federal and local efforts, sets the priorities, as and draws up the necessary training and rehabilitation programmes.

The UAE Government Strategy aims to develop stable policies that regulate the labour market and set standards for the work environment and labourers' housing, and develop the inspection capabilities of the government to ensure that labour laws are enforced and the rights of all parties are protected.

We will not leave the population and labour issues without resolving them comprehensively. Labour laws fall with the jurisdiction of the federal government, and we shall develop and update them according to our nation's interests. The government is actively taking measures to improve this sector through developing laws and regulations and ensuring their full implementation across the country. Penalties will become stricter in order to deter violations, as no exception will be allowed whatsoever.

I wonder why we have such a high rate of illegal labourers (300,000 workers) according to the estimates provided by the labour ministry. The answer, I say, is that there are some people who are hiring them, feeding them and giving them shelter. I demand that we have more stringent laws against all those who hire illegal labourers and introduce strict penalties that could include imprisonment. Those who violate labour laws endanger national security, threaten the stability of the economy and the labour market, and ruin the country's reputation. We will never allow this to happen.

There are two other areas that need to be addressed in the social development sector: Social Welfare and Culture, and Youth and Community Development.

The government strategy seeks to move from the concept of social welfare to social development, enhance cooperative work, develop the concept of non-profit social organizations, entrench family counselling and offer enhanced support to women and children with special needs programmes.

For example, 54% of the beneficiaries under the social security law (around 18,000 UAE nationals) are within the working age and this number is expected to increase. How can we integrate those people into the development process and transform them into productive and effective members of society. The country needs their potential, as much as they need work to fulfil their humanitarian role in life. The government's duty is to give these people a chance to be productive and useful, by providing suitable training, enhancing productive family programmes and funding small businesses.

One of the main areas of the UAE's culture and youth strategy is promoting a sense of belonging and national identity and pride, especially in the younger generation.

Ladies and Gentlemen The memories of the recent Gulf Cup are still fresh in our minds. All of us still remember the joy that filled every house. Children and elderly, women and men, nationals and expatriates, were all overwhelmed with excitement and pride. Each one felt it was their own victory, all hearts were united in sharing the proud moment for the UAE.

Those feelings were a strong proof on the sense nationalism and belonging that UAE nationals have within them. We do not need any lessons in patriotism, for the love of the UAE overflows in our hearts. But we need to instil this love in our children's hearts, as this is the kind of love that drives us and our children to sacrifice everything we have for the sake of our country. So that our flag rises and stays above all flags.

Brothers and Sisters, We are proud of our rich heritage. Our culture gave us this unique identity.

We are not new to history and are not strangers to human civilization.

We have lived in this land for thousands of years and from here spread light and guidance to all humanity. We must instil this spirit in the coming generations, so that they deal with the world with pride in themselves and their national identity.

The role played by the "Watani" programme through initiatives aimed at preserving our heritage deserves praise. So do the initiatives launched by organizations, committees and individuals to compile and preserve our heritage. Their effort has been supported by the media, which has shown an increasing interest in cultural content.

Now we come to sports, one of the important aspects of human development.

We have to ask ourselves: What is it that we expect from sports? Awards..

Cups .. Medals? Yes, we do want that. We want to see our sons and daughters on podiums.

We want to see the UAE flag flying high and the national anthem playing in regional and international stadiums. We want the feeling of overwhelming ecstasy we all felt three months ago when we won the Gulf Cup to be a constant recurrence in all sporting events. And for that, we have to start from the beginning, from the foundation.

In our country, the nurturing of athletic talent begins only in sports clubs where in fact it should start in schools. The right approach to discover and encourage athletic talent at a young age, not only to create champions but also to offer an outlet for children's energy, which might otherwise find outlets in harmful activities. Sport builds the body, energizes the soul, refines morals and encourages sportsmanship and team spirit.

In this context, I ask both ministers of education and of higher education and research, as well as universities to reinstate sports and include it in their curricula and take the initiative to organize competitions in schools, colleges and universities.

The UAE Government Strategy aims to have sports adopted as a way to happy and healthy living and increase society awareness to its importance and spread with the sports facilities in all areas or neighbourhoods.

Before I conclude this section on social development, I would like to point out the little or lack of private sector participation, despite its vital role in the development of the country.

In the beginning, I would like to thank those companies and businessmen who have been socially responsible, and who have offered their support to the community so generously, sincerely, and without publicity, unlike the majority who turn their backs to society and ignore our moral values and traditions and the teachings of our religion.

With corporate social responsibility becoming an international standard that determines the evaluation of a company's performance, competitiveness and success, players who do not give back to their communities tend to lose a lot by way of growth potential.

One of the simplest ways to express social responsibility is to uphold the UAE's reputation. Several international agencies release negative reports on the UAE primarily because many companies operating in the UAE not only fail to be socially responsible, but also in their basic responsibilities towards their employees and labourers.

The government would like to encourage the private sector to increase its role, expand its field of operations and create new opportunities and jobs, while remaining socially responsible. We need to create a reward system that acknowledges socially responsible companies and offers them bigger incentives for growth.

We want the private sector to launch strategic initiatives that serve the interests of the country and society. The world's top universities, research centres, hospitals, schools, awareness campaigns and programmes for the underprivileged are all funded by donations and endowments. Developed countries are doing what our ancestors used to do more than a thousand years ago, where charity endowments acted as the main engine of the renaissance of Arab and Muslim civilization in all the different fields of science and humanity.

Unfortunately, a large segment of the private sector makes no contribution to charity and also disregards the "Zakaat" obligation, one of the five main pillars of Islam. The government has established a "Zakaat" fund to assist people who wish to pay their "Zakaat", but the response has been extremely lacklustre, especially from businessmen.

Last year, the "Zakaat" fund received just 48 million dirhams, while the figure could have been several times higher had everybody paid their "Zakaat".

Imagine what a huge contribution it would have been to the development of our society.

A man's good deeds will last forever. Man will meet his Creator with all the good he has done, not with his money and stature. By Allah, the joy of giving is bigger than any other pleasure. Consider the names of Allah: Al Mo'ti , Al Kareem, Al A'aty, Al Wahhab ,Al Razzaq. Can there be anything more glorious than following Allah's example? Your Highness Ladies and Gentlemen, Our nation has maintained robust economic growth over the past few years, with GDP rising from 261 billion dirhams in 2002 to 599 dirhams in 2006.

The latest World Bank Doing Business Report registered a nine-rank drop for the UAE from the 68th to the 77th rank.

Despite several remarks on the inaccuracy of the indicator, it remains an international reference point for investors. We have to tackle it by identifying the reasons for not making progress. The indicator might have had a five to ten rank error margin, but this is not as important as setting a target rank for ourselves and striving to achieve it using all required means.

The government strategy has formulated certain public policies designed to stimulate economic growth, strengthen the competitiveness of the national economy and upgrade economic regulations and legislation and build the capabilities to implement these policies.

It is therefore essential to strengthen the Federal Government's regulatory role, and enhance fiscal, monetary and trade policy formulation and implementation as well as to develop the institutional framework and the necessary capabilities.

However, the biggest responsibility on the shoulders of the government is empowering nationals to take the lead in developing the economy. We need to adopt a comprehensive nationalization policy that would focus on training, and equipping UAE nationals to better cooperate in the labour market, developing entrepreneurship and innovation and encouraging UAE nationals to launch and manage their own projects.

We now come to Government sector development. The government sector is a productive sector by excellence, the performance of the government sector determines the pace of growth for the rest of the nation. Their performance is directly linked to the realisation of the goals of the National Programme and the UAE Government Strategy.

The public policies for this sector focus on four distinct elements:

1- Focus on strategic planning and build an integrated performance management system

2- Upgrade the civil service system, concentrate on training mid-level managers and emphasize the principles of competency as the main criteria for recruiting, promoting and retaining employees.

3- Develop government services based on international best practices and promoting a culture of excellence in service delivery.

4- Activate the e-government programmes, and adopt a new approach to and encourage private sector participation in delivering central services.

I will personally look after the development of this sector, and I won't accept anything less than the realisation of all the goals within the set timeframe. Developing the public sector is the only effective way in developing other sectors, including education, healthcare and economic, social and cultural development.

Every development embodies change, however many people prefer status quo to change. Certain procedures in government ministries have not changed since the establishment of the federation, and therefore a work culture that is line with the routine procedures that government employees have familiarized themselves with has developed.

This culture does not fit the UAE government that we aspire for.

We have to change the existing mindset, and replace it with a culture that spurs creativity, innovation, dedication and productivity.

New laws and administrative and financial systems and structure will be utilized to nurture this new culture with ministries becoming productivity units competing in performance with international best practices. I have ordered new adjustments to the ministries organizational structures, in addition to adopting certain arrangements that are similar to the managing board of directors in private sector companies. This will lead to the creation of a culture that fosters institutional decision making and promote the spirit of accountability.

I want to see training plans and leadership development programmes in all ministries. Promotions will be linked solely to productivity and performance reports, underpinned by complete transparency. Promotion opportunities will be available for all, with excellent performance earning an annual promotion and that person reaching top positions within a short period of time.

All federal government employees will be under my personal attention.

Every hardworking employee will be rewarded. And I tell them that the prospect for career development and growth is open to all and limitless, provided they are serious loyal and dedicated to serve this country and its citizens.

Our vision is that we become one of the best international governments in providing quality services, nurturing creative minds, building national talent, innovating solutions and adopting international best practices.

We want our government's practices to be a benchmark that other countries adopt and emulate.

We have the capabilities and the potential to make it happen. All that we need is to change the prevailing culture in our ministries and institutions, for I am confident that change in the government sector is on its way.

My message to government employees is: Do not be afraid of change, fear from change is affected by and the result of your own mindset.

Your and your families' and your country's security are directly linked to our ability to change our performance and become more effective and productive.

I feel that I have taken too long of your time, but please bear with me for I would like to share with you the three remaining sectors briefly.

Justice and Safety: Justice is the basis of rule. This is our culture and legacy.

Justice does not prevail through sound laws and legislations only, but through clear and simple judicial procedures and the promptness of ruling in cases as well. This can only be achieved through restructuring the procedures followed and technology used in courts and providing the highest transparency and accountability standards that regulate the work of the judiciary system.

As much as justice is the basis or rule it's also the cornerstone of economic prosperity, society's safety and security and the shelter for the weak and aggrieved.

I have read the reports of the justice and safety ministerial team and did field trips to the courts and the ministry of justice. I was surprised and expressed my utmost dissatisfaction with what I read and saw.

We will not allow this to continue, we will not accept that peoples cases and rights get stuck in courts in long sequence of useless procedures.

We will give the minister of justice the required jurisdiction, proper support, and the chance to enact change. We will be following up closely on the performance of courts to examine the seriousness of the changes undertaken.

Several detailed field studies were conducted by the justice and safety ministerial team which specified the strategic goals and initiatives to achieve the necessary leap in the Judicial work through developing the needed regulations to entrench the principles of transparency, raising the standards of judicial staff and encouraging the recruitment of distinguished UAE nationals.

In the area of safety, a well knit, comprehensive national emergency strategy that can be implemented at the level of the UAE was developed. The coming days will witness the establishment of a National Emergency Authority that will lay down a comprehensive plan to clearly and legally specify the operations, tools, and responsibilities that secure a proper efficient and coordinated response to all potential national emergencies and threats.

The fifth sector concerns infrastructure: Despite the state-of-the-art infrastructure system the UAE has that matches the highest international standards, nevertheless certain components of this infrastructure are under a lot of pressure.

In the housing sector, we realise that the demand exceeds the capacity of the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme (SZHP) and other local programmes.

We are happy with this rising demand because it indicates the growth of UAE families and the emergence of a new generation in the UAE.

The Infrastructure Ministerial team researched the housing sector, studied the current situation, and offered a number of suggestions and alternatives to accelerate the implementation of housing projects. The Council of ministers will look into these suggestions and choose the best alternative, with the objective of meeting the excess demand for housing and providing a high quality of life to UAE nationals.

The roads and transport area also faces many challenges, as some roads witness very high traffic, leading to high accident rates, especially in the northern emirates. We also lack uniform standards and specifications for roads.

We need to reconsider the traffic laws rendering them more effective and deterrents for reckless drivers.

We also have to conduct a full review of the car ownership and registration procedures in order to curb the huge annual increase in the number of cars and subsequently secure the safety of roads.

The Environment: I have to admit that I was surprised by the results of the infrastructure ministerial team's evaluation of our environmental status. It is clear that the growth boom and the advancement of living standards have negatively affected our environment.

The ministerial team studies have pointed out several environmental challenges that we will be addressing and tackling as we are profoundly interested in environmental matters. We have a national environment strategy, several environment programs and initiatives as well as one of the most prestigious international environment awards the "Zayed International Prize for the Environment", and we have recently established a ministry for environment, which will be provided with the needed legal and administrative support to ensure full implementation of the national strategy and the application of all Federal Environmental Legislations in all parts of the UAE, including the free trade zones and the special economic zones.

Environmental awareness should become part of our lives and behaviour.

We have to incorporate it in our educational curricula, and modify all specifications and standards of tools, equipment and means of transportation to become environment friendly.

Of the new government initiatives in this regard is the introduction of social service programmes in all levels of education, that require students to spend a certain number of hours each year in community work, such as cleaning parks and beaches, taking part in environmental field programmes, in addition to community work in hospitals and special care centres.

I ask the Minister of Education and Higher Education to include social and community services as a compulsory course of study starting next year, to build awareness among students and to induce a sense of social responsibility and volunteer work.

The sixth sector addresses Rural Area Development.

I personally do not like the term "Rural Areas". These areas no matter how close or far from cities remain a very precious part of our nation.

The leadership of this country has never disregarded the needs of these areas, and has never stopped inquiring about the state of its residents, many of whom are employees of different federal and local government and entities.

The rural areas ministerial team recommendations in this regard are at the centre of attention of the council of ministers as much as they are at the centre of attention of His Highness the President of the UAE who is keen on providing all the needs of his people all over the UAE.

We want our people in these areas to have stable productive lives and receive quality services matching those provided in the cities.

We want the citizens of these areas to be active participants in the development process. We want them to be equipped with knowledge and technology to be able to compete and keep pace with the rapid changes taking place in the world around them.

Your Highness, This is Al Tamkeen Strategy, inspired by your vision. We have moulded it into an elaborate strategy that covers all aspects of national activity and is keen on developing the Country's institutions to secure sustained progress for our nation and to improve the quality of life for our citizens.

We fully realize that success lies not in drawing up plans and strategies but in the ability to implement them. The ministries are now preparing their own strategies that will be approved by the council of ministers by the end of June. I would like to point out that we have already started implementing some of the initiatives from the strategy and that we will be launching others soon under my direct supervision.

Ministry strategies will not be ink on paper as we will have specialised systems to monitor the performance of the ministries. The Prime Minister's Office will be responsible for these systems and will systematically report to me on the performance of each ministry and on the level of implementation of the strategy.

However, I will not suffice with these reports and I will continue to do field visits to each and every ministry and listen to the opinion of the people on the level of services provided to them.

With the help of Allah Almighty, Your Highness's support and the cooperation of our brothers in the Federal Supreme Council and with the participation of Federal National Council, we hope to stand up to all challenges and reach the greatest of achievements for our country.

This nation has been entrusted to us, and it is an honour to carry out our responsibility towards it.

To all UAE nationals in all different levels of public work I would like to say: this strategy is yours and for your benefit. Its success lies primarily in your own hands. Everybody is looking up to you to fulfil your leadership's hopes and expectations and to prove once more that you are ready for change and growth, and that you are determined to place the UAE among the most developed countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Life has taught us that the impossible is a matter of opinion and that there are no limits to excellence in the pioneering race. Life has taught us that clear vision, strong determination and devoted compatriots can turn dreams and visions into reality.

I assure you that our vision is clear and our determination is strong.

I can see the future UAE a while from today.

I see the whole world looking up to the UAE. I see the UAE full of success stories in healthcare, education, public administration and other sectors that the world adopts as best practices.

I see the future UAE, under your leadership Your Highness reaching the highest levels of science knowledge and achieving progress and prosperity.

I see the future UAE with its people enjoying the best quality of life.

I can almost feel the size of our achievements 20 years from now. Walking down the streets, entering the schools and watching students learning modern sciences in the most advanced laboratories, and using cutting edge technology.

I can see myself strolling in the parks, entering the hospitals and seeing the look of satisfaction in the eyes of the patients and the look of determination and care in the eyes of the staff.

I can see myself visiting government departments and seeing satisfied customers and employees with enthusiasm passion to excel and overcome challenges. I can see our governments' department as the hot spot for world delegations who come to learn from our experiences and follow our practices.

I see myself passing by harbours, airports, factories and malls and see great achievements. I see international cities, throbbing with activity and vibrancy.

I can see myself walking by houses to see residents living happily and honourably in beautiful homes playing with their children in lush gardens.

I can see the children's eyes full of love, peace and optimism.

We are not of those who talk or indulge in dreams, for I can see and I know with certainty that that men and women of this great nation are capable of making this dream come true, sacrificing their lives to elevate their country's name, help achieve their leaders' vision, and conquer all challenges.

The vision is clear, and the goal is set. The future does not wait for the hesitant. We do not have the luxury of time. And we were never used to hesitating and waiting.

This is a call to join hands group our efforts and set off to make this vision come true.


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