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Zayed Centre for Co-ordination and Follow-Up - National day 2001

posted on 30/11/2001: 1347 views


The Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow up, ZCCF, was established in September 1999, with the main objectives of seeking to strengthen Arab solidarity in all fields to help in the evolution of a strategic Arab vision in facing current and future challenges and to strengthen and protect the Arab identity. It operates within the framework of the philosophy of President H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, and with the support and follow-up of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, and Chairman of the ZCCF. To mark the 30th anniversary of the UAE's National Day, the Emirates News Agency, WAM, has prepared this report on the Centre, which has been working closely with the Arab League over the last two years to achieve its aim of becoming a forum for inter-Arab and Arab-Non Arab dialogue.



In a press conference held in Abu Dhabi last September to mark the second anniversary of the founding of the Centre, the Advisor to the Arab League Secretary General, Talaat Hamed, praised Sheikh Zayed his initiative to establish the Centre and noted that during a symposium held in Abu Dhabi on 4th November 1997 on the Future of the Arab nation and the role of the Arab League, the UAE President had called for the undertaking of work to achieve Arab solidarity and peace and tranquillity among Arab countries, reminding the Arab nation that its strength lies in unity and that division will undoubtedly lead to weakness and setbacks. During the same symposium, Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan had also noted that the Arab nations puts its trust in its intellectual elite to prepare a peaceful and solid ground for the nation as it enters into the 21st century.



Since September, the Centre has been hosting a series of press conferences for Ministers, and other senior UAE officials to talk on the most significant achievements of the UAE in the 30 years since the federation was established. Obeid Bin Saif Al-Nasiri, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, reviewed the major developments in the world oil market and their implications for the oil sector in the UAE as well as the achievements of the Ministry throughout the last three decades.



The Minister explained that the world oil market, as far as prices are concerned, was the most unstable of the world's commodity markets, adding that the prices could be affected by a number of factors such as speculation, rumours, and statements by individuals, as well as by other factors such as the weather or political stability. He said that the oil and gas oil sector in the UAE had undergone significant development in the years since the establishment of the federation, despite the fluctuation of prices and instability in the world oil market. The Minister also commented on matters related to the environment and climate change, noting that the Ministry participated actively in relevant conferences on such issues, in particular the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. While noting that Government revenues from oil and gas had increased dramatically over the last thirty years, the Minister also said that the diversification of the country's sources of revenue was of great importance.



The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Saeed bin Mohammed Al Ragabani, was another official to participate in the Centre's programme. He said that Sheikh Zayed's vision, efforts and support had enabled his ministry to overcome the hurdles which impeded agricultural production and growth in the country. This had led to a huge increase in the amount of greenery in the country, he said. The President's unstinting support for the agricultural and fisheries sectors has changed the UAE from a consumer to a producer of agricultural products, he said. This had helped to reduce imports, he added. On regional and international cooperation, Al Ragabani pledged that the UAE would continue to collaborate with international bodies on agricultural matters, especially the FAO. He said the UAE was also cooperating with the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development in dealing with the menace of the Red Palm Weevil.



UAE Central Bank Governor Sultan Nasser Al Suwaidi said that the UAE's success story is rare in contemporary history. He said that during the last three decades of its existence, the UAE made significant socio-economic strides which had won the admiration and respect of many countries. Since 1972, the UAE has established its financial institutions and had quickly begun the move from an oil-based economy to a diversified economy, he said, adding that this had led to a growth in the contribution of the non-oil sector to the GDP. Liquidity had increased from 39 in 1975 to 67 percent in 1991 and then to 76 per cent in 2000, he said. Al Suwaidi dismissed as inaccurate and inappropriate allegations that have been recurrent recently in the foreign media, alleging and labelling the UAE as a soft for money laundering. The UAE is free from any money laundering activities because there is no lucrative drug market to attract money laundering. There is also no piracy, abduction or any of the crimes that are associated with money laundering, he said. Al Suwaidi however, acknowledged the presence of cases of financial embezzlements, but said these sorts of financial crimes were existent in many countries.



Dr. Salim Al Dhahiri, Director of the Federal Environmental Agency, FEA, expressed gratitude to Sheikh Zayed for his care of and commitment to the UAE environment and environmental issues in general. He said that the FEA owes much to President Sheikh Zayed, who has always kept environmental protection high on his development agenda. Right from the beginning (in 1975), Sheikh Zayed ordered the formation of a higher environmental committee to oversee environmental issues, Al Dhahiri said. Since then efforts continued unabated with environmental sections being set up in health departments of the UAE municipalities until a federal law establishing the FEA was issued in 1993 he said. He pointed out that the establishment of the FEA was a major landmark in boosting the environmental protection drive. This also triggered a countrywide environmental protection movement. In 1999, the federal environmental protection law was issued, outlining the legislative aspects for protecting the environment, he said. This was followed by the release of the national environmental protection strategy in October 2000, Minster of Electricity and Water Humaid bin Nasir Al Owais Said that there was a plan to set up a national centre to oversee local projects for alternative power sources such as wind and solar energy. He said that the centre will start functioning as soon as the newly set up Federal Electricity and Water Authority, FEWA, begins its work.



Al Owais also discussed plans for a national power grid. He said that there are no plans to develop nuclear power at this stage, but plans are under way with other GCC countries in order extend electricity network and thereby conserve power resources in the region. Speaking about the achievements of his ministry over the last thirty years, Al Owais said the UAE had began with limited capacity electricity plants but that expansion had been continuous. Power capacity in Jebel Ali and Al Taweela power plants reached 9,200 Megawatts in the year 2000. Due to increasing demand for additional power supplies as result of extension in development projects, the ministry of water and electricity has carried out expansion projects that will meet the country's needs up to the year 2006, he said, adding that the Abu Dhabi electricity and water authorities had expanded operational capacity to 710 megawatts and an additional 50 million GPD of water, at a cost of 2.720 million Dirhams.



The minister said that while UAE daily consumption of water reached 481 million gallon, production capacity had increased to 560 million gallons per a day. This is in addition to the utilization of recycled water, which is treated in eight treatment plants, producing 80 million gallons per a day. The treated water is currently being used for irrigation. Al Owais said water consumption in the country will increase to 600 million gallons per day by the year 2005, in line with the increase in population. Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Saeed Al Ghaith said that e-government has become a reality in the UAE, with the bulk of the public services having been electronically interconnected. Ghaith said that e-government would ensure more data accuracy and boost efficiency. He said the Cabinet would discuss the issue of introducing e-government in the entire public service. The Minister dismissed concerns that have been expressed over the implementation of e-government and the possible rise in unemployment rate in the country as a result.



Speaking on the achievements of the public service since the formation of the federation in 1971, Gaith said the public service had only 10, 575 civil servants in 1971, but this number had increased to 56,392 civil servants by 2000. Nationals represent 44 percent of this number, said the Minister. He added that the UAE leadership, under H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has been conscious, since the early days of the federation, of the fact that creation of a sound civil service was the pillar to a viable administrative structure. The Zayed Centre has also issued a number of studies on various national, Arab and international issues and has prepared profiles on a number of Arab and Islamic personalities. The latest was the reprinting of a biography book on Sheikh Zayed, titled Zayed from Al Ain City to Presidency, which was authored thirty years ago by Foreign Minister Rashid Abdullah.



In its eight chapters, the book reviews various aspects of the personality of the President H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The Centre also issued a book on the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum on the 11th anniversary of his death. The book focussed on the personality of Sheikh Rashid and his significant contribution to the federation and other Arab issues. Between late March to mid November this year, the Centre held a total 110 lectures on a variety of issues, including political, scientific, intellectual, economic and cultural topics.



The Centre has also hosted a number of well-known Arab and foreign personalities at press conferences. Among them are the former Austrian President and UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, who delivered a lecture on the role of international organisations in bringing peace in the Middle East, former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who talked on the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States, and Farouq Qaddoumi, Palestinian Foreign Minister, who delivered a lecture on the Palestinian Intifada and the future challenges. The centre has won praises for its activities from a number of Arab and foreign leaders, including King Mohammed VI of Morocco, President Jacques Chirac of France, subject of a book issued by the Centre, entitled Jacques Chirac: The Statesman and Man of Principles, former US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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