By rescuing a British hostage in Yemen, the UAE upholds its values

The release of a British hostage demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to our way of life

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, with Philip Hammond, UK's foreign secretary, in Dubai in November 2013. Ryan Carter / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi
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By now, the family and friends of Robert Semple will be celebrating the news of his release. The British engineer was held hostage for 18 agonising months by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, before being freed in an Emirati military intelligence operation. Details of his rescue are still emerging. But his release is not merely a moment of celebration for his family and friends, it is a demonstration of the lengths to which the UAE will go to to defend our way of life.

This country understands the nature of modern terrorism. We have been affected by it. We have watched as our neighbours have been attacked and destabilised. And we have seen how Arab culture has been tarnished and the reputation of the Muslim religion has been twisted by the ideologies of violent and brutal groups.

And through all of this, the UAE has maintained its model of tolerance and openness. We have not shut our doors to the world, nor changed who we are. And we will not allow terrorism to change our way of life or what we have become. But we will not end this scourge simply by securing our own society.

Our prosperity and our security is linked to that of our neighbours. That is why the UAE took the difficult decision to intervene in Yemen on the side of the legitimate government. That has been a painful decision, but it is necessary if we are to defeat this scourge.

Terrorism recognises no limit; it respects no borders, no religion or political system. When these terrorists look at us in the civilised world, they do not hate us for what we have become. They hate us for what we are. They hate our values.

It is to defend those values that we must fight the terrorists where they are, otherwise we may have to fight them closer to home. Whether it is Al Qaeda in Yemen or ISIL in Iraq or Jabhat Al Nusra in Syria, all of these groups seek to cause us and our allies harm. The only way to defeat these groups is to take the fight to them – to show Al Qaeda that they cannot attack Yemenis or plot attacks on US airliners or abduct Britons with impunity.

These groups and their backers must understand that the UAE has a straightforward and unchanging policy towards terrorism, in whatever form. We will fight them wherever they are, because that is the right thing to do for our way of life, for our region and for our allies. The nihilism of the terrorists has destabilised our region. By intervening in Yemen and by rescuing Mr Semple, the UAE is putting these groups on notice: our zeal in defending our way of life is matched by our ability to do so.