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UAE achieves more prosperity for nation and citizens

posted on 01/12/2010: 1602 views

On 2nd December, the United Arab Emirates, celebrates its 39th National Day while continuing confidently on its way to achieve more prosperity for the homeland and its citizens.

Radical changes have been recorded in a wide range of sectors, including political life, the economy and social services, within the framework on a vision of change that seeks to make the best possible use of all resources, including human resources, to achieve sustainable development.

Under the wise leadership of President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the country enjoys much prestige in the international community because of its achievements at home while it has, at same time, built close political and economic relations with countries throughout the globe.

During his first term of office as President, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa announced new strategies to promote the political empowerment of the people, building on the foundations laid down by the country's Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

At the end of 2009, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa gave further instructions on the implementation of these strategies. Among areas that he directed should receive particular attention were the promotion of Emiratisation, the upgrading of infrastructure and other services in remote areas, the broadening of the economic infrastructure and the reform of economic, financial and labour policy. Another focus was on the need to strengthen cohesion within the community, through the promotion of social integration and partnership and a revitalisation of the traditional role of the family.

"Today," he said in a statement, "after five years of being President of this country, we are sure that launching strategies, developing legislation, establishing factories, building roads and universities, regardless of their priority, importance and necessity -cannot be an end nor a destination in themselves. The aim is to build national capacity and to release the human energy of the nation, directing it towards excellence, creativity and competition. " The Cabinet: The harmony that exists amongst the political leadership of the country and the mutual trust between them and the country's citizens has provided the United Arab Emirates with political and social stability. This has provided a firm foundation that supports the continuing efforts to develop and improve Government performance, within the context of the national strategy unveiled in 2007 by the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

This strategy aims to achieve sustainable and balanced development, to ensure prosperity for citizens and establish a new era of government work, in keeping with economic change, seeking to adopt best practices in order to achieve prosperity locally and to strengthen the country's position regionally and internationally. The strategy also aims to consolidate the progress of the federation and to promote the relationship between the federal government and those of the emirates, as well as giving greater attention to the broad issues of community development, including education, health, housing, social welfare, culture and youth affairs and the structure of the population and labour force.

President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa has noted that the achievements of the Government over the last four years are both the result of the adoption of a comprehensive strategy for development, drawn up in accordance with a clear vision for the future and on the basis of detailed planning, and of the spirit of perseverance with which that strategy has been implemented.

A record of that progress is contained in a special report, "Four Years of Achievements... Report of the Federal Government's Work", submitted to him on 23rd March 2010 by H.H. the Vice President and Prime Minister. While receiving that report, the President expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by the Government to improve its performance so as to ensure the welfare of citizens, to enhance the prosperity and stability of the country and to provide a decent living for future generations.

The President praised the Vice President and Prime Minister for his leadership of the ministerial team and in setting the appropriate tempo for the process of bringing about greater integration between the various aspects of national work, going on to commend, in particular, the efforts made by Government to promote economic and social development and to extend services to remote areas. These, he noted, reflect the Government's commitment to develop the human beings of the nation, who, he said, represent the most precious elements of the nation's wealth.

The President further expressed his pleasure at the scientific approach being adopted in the planning and implementation of Government initiatives, noting that this had contributed significantly to the excellent level of performance that had been achieved. He also noted, with pleasure, the current international standing of the UAE, praising the successful and active programme of diplomacy that attracted international support for the selection of the country as the headquarters of the new International Agency for Renewable Energy, IRENA, as well as the conclusion of a number of cooperation agreements in the field of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

These successes, the President said, were evidence of marked progress in the country's foreign relations and had strengthened its links to other countries and had also contributed to the UAE's own programme to protect its environment.

In a comment on successes in the sphere of defence and security, the President noted that advances had been made in terms of preparation and of the introduction of new systems and methods, adding that this had made a real contribution to the preservation of the country's security and stability, thereby helping it to maintain the regional and international standing it had achieved.

President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa also expressed his satisfaction at the work done to bring greater stability into the labour market and at the efforts being undertaken to address the imbalance in the country's demographic structure, one of the most important issues that the country faces.

In his introduction to the report, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, stated that his objective was to fulfil the national programme of work so as to enable both the nation and its citizens make progress towards the highest international standards in all areas. It was necessary, he said, to draw upon the lessons learned and to use them for future planning, adding that the past few years had not only seen many achievements but also challenges that had required sincere and hard work to tackle. From all of this, he added, had come good both for the homeland and for its citizens.

The report includes seven main chapters dealing with the government's achievements in the areas of social, economic and foreign policy, public sector development as well as security, justice, safety, infrastructure and the development of remote areas. There is also a chapter examining the most important issues with which the Government had to deal during the period covered by the report, outlining the policies and initiatives launched and implemented to deal with them.

The Government's Strategy (2011-2013): The second phase of the Government strategy, covering the years 2011-2013, was announced by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on 28th February 2010.

This has seven general principles and seven priorities and areas for strategic empowerment that focus on key areas of government work and its performance. A top priority is the provision of the highest levels of prosperity and decent life for citizens, through the upgrading of education systems and health care and a focus on the development of community and government services, to improve the UAE's global standing in these areas.

The seven principles define the overall framework of federal work and are considered to be key reference points in the application of policy. Among topics covered by the principles are the activation of the role of the federal government as an initiator of legislation, the effective enforcement of legislation and the strengthening of co-ordination and integration between the federal government and its agencies and local governments. Others include the delivery of excellent public services, investment in the building of human and national potential, , the preparation and development of young leaders, the adoption of a culture of excellence, focusing on strategic planning methodologies, with a focus on a continuous improvement of performance, and consolidating the concept of transparency and good governance systems in federal agencies.

The seven strategic priorities represent the main topics covered by the Government's priorities over the next three years. Among these, the most important is the building of a cohesive conservative community that protects its identity, deriving its strength from this and from the strength and coherence of the UAE family and from keeping its identity. Amongst tasks that must be carried out to achieve this are the establishment of an educational system based on the development of the knowledge and skills of students, the creation of a health system with international standards to ensure everybody's access to healthcare services and limit the spread of epidemics and health hazards and the building of a knowledge-based economy to enhance participation of citizens in the workforce and to develop their abilities. Through this, it will then be possible to strengthen the UAE's trade position regionally and internationally, to build a safe community, to provide fair and effective justice, to create a sustainable environment, within a fully integrated infrastructure where natural resources can be preserved and pollution reduced, and, finally, to enhance international recognition of the country's achievements.

The UAE's 2021 Vision : Looking further ahead, the ‘UAE Vision 2021 Document' was also announced during the course of the year. Adopted on 6th February 2010 following a three-day meeting of Ministers in Liwa, chaired by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and attended by Lt. General H.H. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, and H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the document takes future planning up to the year of the UAE's Golden Jubilee, and has been given the sub-title - and aspiration: "We want to be one of the best countries in the world." According to the Vice President and Prime Minister, the document has four main elements.

The first is the UAE has an ambitious and confident people that adhere to their heritage. The second is a strong union gathered together by a common destiny. The third is a competitive economy led by Emiratis and characterised by innovation and knowledge and the fourth is a high quality of living in a sustainable and giving environment.

Introducing the document, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said: "The union in its march follows in the footsteps of the founding fathers, admitting its enormous gratitude to them and recalling the power of their determination, their wisdom and their ability to foresee the future as well as the way in which they dedicated all their efforts to launch a renaissance that raced against time, compensated our people for what they had missed, took them to civilisation and progress, and created the landmarks of our march while we move forward with our great country to the highest levels." He added, "The UAE today stands in the ranks of advanced countries thanks to the achievements that have been made since the establishment of the union. Our people have harvested the fruits of comprehensive development, have enjoyed the outcome of our rapid national economic development and have continued to maintain their society, their way of living and authenticity of their heritage." The vision for the future, he said, was inspired by the programme of work for the nation launched by President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and adopted by Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the UAE.

"As we look to the future and consolidate steps in the empowerment of the homeland and citizens," H.H. Sheikh Mohammed said," we make our way with confidence and optimism and determination to address the challenges we face on several sides, challenges of family relations that provide our society with its needs for power and coherence, challenges to keep our economy competitive, challenges to our national identity and challenges of health, education, environment and safety." He concluded by saying " No ambitious nation can achieve its goals by referring to achievements of the past, for what is gone is gone. History is always written in the present and the future, and this prompts us to further work, more innovation and more organisation. It requires us to stay alert to challenges by honestly knowing our current situation, keeping pace with regional and international changes and developments and insisting on the need to anticipate future events, so that we can ensure for our people a future which will witness substantive additions to the achievements of the pioneers who founded our country, providing a safe and secure life, with dignity and respect, for the generations to come." During its Liwa meeting, the Cabinet reviewed progress in the implementation of the first phase of the federal Government strategy, covering the years 2008-2010.

Oil and gas : The oil and gas industry remains a cornerstone of the UAE's economy, with over 90 per cent of the country's 98 billion barrels of oil reserves being located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

These reserves are the third highest in the world, while gas reserves, at around 6 trillion cubic feet, are the fifth highest in the world.

Daily production was around 2.2 million barrels a day late in the year, in accordance with quotas set by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, although installed sustainable production capacity is around 2.8 million barrels per day. Plans have been announced to raise this to around 3.5 mbpd by 2018.

Plans have also been announced by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC, to treble its current refining capacity of 485,000 barrels per day, with the Ruwais Refinery Expansion Project alone involving an addition of over 400,000 bpd.

The International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) is also building a 200,000 bpd refinery at Fujairah, on the UAE's East Coast, which will be linked by pipeline to Abu Dhabi's major onshore fields.

Tourism and Exhibitions : The UAE's tourism industry, now one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, has continued to benefit from a combination of factors, including the country's stability and security, an excellent infrastructure of roads, airports and hotels, and its appealing environment, with over 700 km of beaches. There also important attractions for those interested in heritage.

These have been supplemented by its world-class sporting facilities, including golf courses, polo grounds, cricket stadiums and horse-racing tracks. A recent addition to these has been the Formula One motor-racing circuit on Yas Island, in Abu Dhabi, which hosted its inaugural Grand Prix in November 2009 and its second in November 2010.

Looking ahead, a major new attraction for visitors is likely to be the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island, adjacent to Abu Dhabi, where several top-class museums are being built. These will include the Zayed National Museum, to commemorate the country's founder, a branch of France's Louvre Museum, a Guggenheim Museum of modern art and a maritime museum.

Infrastructure : In the Global Competitiveness Report (2009/2010) released by the World Economic Forum in early July 2010, UAE was ranked the sixth globally among 133 countries in the field of quality infrastructure and 23rd overall in terms of competitiveness.

Work is currently under way on a programme to enhance the transport infrastructure, with plans to expand airports and ports and to build a rapid mass-transport network in Abu Dhabi to complement the Dubai metro, opened in 2009 and already proving its worth.

The country already has seven international airports, in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, in Dubai and its industrial district of Jebel Ali, where the new Al Maktoum Airport will eventually be the largest in the world and in Sharjah, Ra's al-Khaimah and Fujairah.

Al Maktoum Airport was officially opened on 1st July 2010 by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Covering an area of 140 square kilometres and estimated to cost around US $30 billion, it will eventually become a major centre not only for air travel but also for the broader aviation industry.

By 2020, according to Airports Council International, ACI, the UAE's airports are expected to be able to handle over 250 million passengers a year, the highest anywhere in the Middle East and North Africa.

The national airlines, Etihad, Emirates, Air Arabia, FlyDubai and, youngest of them all, RAK Airways, continue to grow, adding new destinations and purchasing new aircraft.

In terms of maritime trade, the UAE has 15 major seaports, in which billions of dirhams have been invested in recent years in expansion programmes. These will shortly be joined by another, Khalifa Port, at Taweelah, between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which, with its associated industrial zone, will cover around 600 sq. km. and will cost an estimated Dh 5.5 billion.

A highlight of the country's infrastructure and building programme during 2010 was the inauguration, on 4th January, by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, of the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa. Situated in the new Downtown Dubai district, it was built at a cost of US $ 1.5 billion.

Public services : The federal budget for 2010, as already noted the largest in the UAE's history allocated 22.5 per cent, or around Dh 9.82 billion, to the social development sector.

The Ministry of Education received Dh 7.2 billion, or 16.5 per cent of the budget, to allow it to embark on a major programme of upgrading government schools. During the 2009/2010 academic year, there were 1,245 public and private schools, with around 700,000 students, compared to only 74 schools and 22,800 students in the 1971/1972 academic year.

At the level of higher education, over 95,000 students have now graduated from universities and other institutes of higher education, with many thousands more having graduated from universities and colleges overseas.

The first university in the country, the Emirates University, opened in 1977, but has since been joined by a country-wide network of Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), Zayed University, the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR), Abu Dhabi University, Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi University, Sharjah University and the American Universities of Sharjah and Dubai, amongst others.

In all, there are now over 60 licenced private higher educational institutions, with over 52,000 students in the 2009 / 2010 academic year.

In the 2010 federal budget, Dh 2.7 billion was earmarked for the Emirates University, the HCT and Zayed University.

Health Services: The 2010 budget for federal government health services was a total of Dh 2.8 billion, although , on top of this, there is substantial expenditure by local governments, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. There is also a thriving private healthcare sector.

A key objective of the government's healthcare policy is to provide top-quality service for both curative and preventative medicine, and, as part of this, close relations are being developed with leading healthcare institutions overseas, several of which have affiliates in the UAE, like the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre, a joint venture with Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Company.

The UAE's hospitals are now able to offer a wide range of specialised services, including open-heart surgery, organ transplants, nuclear medicine, surgical endoscopy units and cancer treatment.

There are now 40 hospitals and more than 115 centres for primary health care, in the country, including 14 hospitals and 67 primary health care centres affiliated to the Ministry of Health. Other facilities include 11 major centres for student health and10 centres as well as several thousand private medical clinics. In 1971, when the UAE federation was founded, there were only seven hospitals and 12 healthcare centres.

Media: In recent years, there has been explosive growth in the country's media sector, prompted both by the country's excellent infrastructure and global advances in telecommunications and information technology.

There are 15 satellite TV channels and 24 radio channels and dozens of daily and weekly newspapers and magazines, in addition to the official Emirates News Agency (WAM).

There are further media organisations in the country's four Media Free Zones, of which the most important are Dubai Media City and the Abu Dhabi Media Zone, both housing offices of some of the world's leading print and broadcast media, as well as smaller outlets.

Media policy in the UAE is regulated by the National Media Council, an autonomous federal body, which, since 12th October 2010, has been chaired by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, who is also Minister of Public Works.

Cultural openness : The UAE seeks to become a centre of culture and heritage for the entire region, not just in terms of its own traditions but as a place where there can be an effective interchange between cultures.In pursuit of this, leading museums from around the world are being involved in the construction of the Sa'adiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi.

In Dubai, the Khor Dubai cultural project, covering 20 sq. km, will provide a home for

‘Universal Museums' plan which will eventually display artistic treasures from around the world.

Another important cultural centre is Sharjah, which has over a dozen museums, covering topics as varied as archaeology, Islamic Art and aviation.

Housing Since the establishment of the UAE, Government has sought to provide suitable housing for its citizens, in keeping with their needs and traditions. Many billions of dirhams have been spent on this process, but, with a rapidly rising population of UAE citizens, there continues to be demand for yet more housing.

The Ministry of Public Works is now developing a national housing plan to cover anticipated demand for the next twenty years. This will include an expansion of the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme, which has built several thousand villas throughout the country. So far, the programme has spent over Dh 9.4 billion since it was established in 1999, with more than 45,000 citizens benefiting. Its 2010 budget was set at Dh 1.08 billion.

Communications : The UAE remains one of the world's top countries in terms of its use of modern communications technology. It is ranked 1st among Arab countries and 12th globally for mobile telephone usage, with an average of 2.3 telephones per inhabitant, and the top Arab country for Internet penetration, according to an UNCTAD report. UAE trade in goods and services for the IT and telecommunications industry for 2009 amounted to around Dh 47.7 billion, or roughly 7 per cent of all trade.

The industry is governed by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, founded in 2003, which lays down guidelines for the two telecoms providers, Etisalat and du.

Externally, the UAE-owned Thuraya Satellite Communications Company has over 250,000 subscribers to its network, which covers more than 140 countries and over two-thirds of the world's population. During the 2010 Conference in Mexico of the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, the UAE was re-elected to the ITU Council for the period 2010-2014.

Human Resources : President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has directed that the empowerment of the country's citizens must be of paramount importance in the UAE's development programme, noting that: "The homeland without its citizens has no value and is of no use, regardless of the wealth and resources it may have." In accordance with this, the Government strategy for the years 2011-2013 has reaffirmed the need to invest in the training of the country's citizens and, in particular, to pay attention to the development of a new generation of leaders, prepared to play their part in the building of the state.

Progress for Women The UAE's women have continued in recent years to play an ever-increasingly role in all aspects of public life.

There are now four women ministers in the Cabinet, one of the highest numbers anywhere in the Arab world, while 9 serve as members of the Federal National Council, 22.3 per cent of its total membership. Over 65 women occupy posts in the Foreign Ministry, including two ambassadors, in Spain and Sweden, and a consul-general, in Shanghai, China.

Enjoying the continued support of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union and of Family Development Foundation, women now occupy 66 percent of the posts in government, including 30 per cent of the senior posts, and 15 per cent of all technical jobs, including medicine, teaching, pharmacy and nursing. They also serve in the armed forces, the police and the customs authority.

In the private sector, around 12,000 women are engaged in business, managing over 11,000 projects with a total investment of Dh 12.5 billion.

President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa has said: "The hopes of our country do not have a roof and the aspirations of our citizens have no borders." The process of development will bring further progress for the country's citizens in the years to come.


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