How the UAE is becoming a country that others look up to

The key to reaching the very top is ensuring that progress remains sustainable and by striving to be even better, writes Taryam Al Subaihi

For decades, the UAE turned towards the world for guidance. The birth and progress of the country, led by the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed, required the experience of those who had spent centuries perfecting the structure of their own countries. Now, his vision has borne fruit as the UAE ranks among the world’s best to work and live in.

A recent report by the UK’s NatWest bank showed that British citizens favoured the UAE for its standard of living, coming in third. In October 2013, the HSBC Expat Explorer survey also ranked the UAE as one of the top 10 best countries overall. Its findings were based on several parameters including financial incentives, quality of life and ease of raising children. The survey results also showed the UAE ranking 16th in terms of economics and scored in 26th place in terms of work-life balance, working environment, social life, entertainment and transport, among many other categories.

The UAE has traditionally looked towards the west, to the United States, UK and Europe for guidance. Countries such as Japan, Malaysia and Australia also acted as a benchmark for the UAE, too.

In the past, if UAE nationals sought a good education, the country sponsored education abroad. If a serious medical condition afflicted a family member, the UAE government ensured the best medical attention was received overseas. In other words, the best was always perceived to be found elsewhere.

When telling stories of the past, tribal elders often recall the days when India was the top destination for people in the Gulf region.

If a person made it to India and established a trade or business there, they were considered to be successful and exemplary businessmen.

As the country progressed, eyes turned to places that were further afield. Experts were brought in from all over the world to assist in building the foundation of the UAE. The willingness and dedication to improve all industries in the UAE allowed Emiratis to accept the advice and council of people from all nations and cultural backgrounds without bias. And together, the miracle of the UAE was born and nurtured into what it is today.

And now the country stands as a model for others to follow.

Admittedly, the secondary school system has a long journey ahead of it to reach a better standard, but it has embarked upon that road. Students from all across the world are flocking towards the UAE to receive the very best higher education. The health service has improved so much that the country has become the destination of choice for people living in the region. And let us not forget the outstanding progress the country has made in other areas.

The World Economic Forum recently produced the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 that assessed the landscape of 148 economies and provided insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity.

The result of the report was again testament to UAE’s accomplishments: the country received top 10 rankings in many fields, including government procurement of advanced technology products, quality of overall infrastructure and the effectiveness of anti-monopoly policies.

Tourism has also progressed markedly. Many Emiratis who have recently visited the United States, the “leader of the free world”, return home to tell of American families who were planning to visit this country and explore its attractions.

What this illustrates is that the country is now providing and offering the very best in education, health, infrastructure, tourism, security and overall quality of life, with many of the UAE’s previous model countries now left in its wake.

But where do we go from here? The country needs to continue on its path of progress even though Emiratis have reached many of the benchmarks set out for them by the country’s leaders. The key to reaching the very top is ensuring that progress remains sustainable and by striving to be even better.

It is now up to the younger generation to accept the responsibility of improving their country. It is important they understand where the struggle has come from and how hard their fathers (and their fathers before them) had fought to make the UAE an example for all others – and how they built a model country in the fraction of the time it took many other countries.

Taryam Al Subaihi is a political and social commentator who specialises in media and communications

On Twitter: @TaryamAlSubaihi

Published: May 20, 2014 04:00 AM

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