When the UAE was founded in 1971, no one in the world could have foreseen just how swiftly the nation would evolve and develop into the modern, progressive, successful country it is today.
From the Hope Probe’s successful journey to Mars to the establishment of the world’s first solar-powered city, Masdar, the UAE has taken huge strides to advance innovation, build resilience and support new and more sustainable ways of thinking.
Today the nation celebrates its Golden Jubilee, heralding the beginning of our national strategy for the next 50 years, which will support a new era of sustainable growth with the UAE’s unique competitiveness and globally open economy.
The UAE’s journey of success was by no means easy. It took hard work, focus and dedication. Our nation’s milestones have been the culmination of ambitions led by the UAE’s Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, who laid the foundations for today’s leadership to pave a brighter path towards our country’s safe, secure and sustainable future.
This was evident when the UAE became the first Middle Eastern nation in history to win the bid to host Expo 2020 Dubai. For those living in the UAE, the excitement could be felt across the nation. It was a proud testament to how much the country has grown in five decades. From bidding to winning, the UAE is now witnessing the fruits of its labour, as Expo came to life this October after years in the making.
Just as the Expo is a microcosm of global progress and diversity, the same can be said for the UAE. Over 9 million people from 200 nationalities call the UAE home, living and working together in one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Such diversity and tolerance are highly valued assets of our communities, enabling everyone to reach their full potential and contribute to a new world of possibilities. The ubiquitous opportunities on offer are palpable in its people, who are living examples of the nation’s success. Their capabilities continue to be essential to the development of our nation.
With this in mind, human rights are extremely important to the UAE. We promote equality, ensuring compliance with our human rights laws while continuing to work on them further, as the nation’s social and legal landscape continues to evolve.
Having always sought to play a positive role on both regional and international levels, the UAE continues to seek enhanced co-operation and conflict resolution through dialogue, diplomacy and constructive engagement. As a nation, we believe in mediation between parties in conflict, while advocating confidence-building measures to develop political processes and security approaches, ensuring durable transitions out of conflict.
Following its election to the UN Security Council under the theme “Stronger United”, the UAE works to bring this approach to life through its actions at home and via diplomacy abroad. On the Security Council, the UAE will be a constructive partner to address some of the critical challenges of our time, such as promoting gender equality, fostering tolerance and countering terrorism and extremism, while prioritising humanitarian relief and sustaining peace.
When it comes to climate change and sustainable development, the UAE has always taken an active approach to building resilience and driving systematic solutions. In November this year, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced that the UAE will host the 28th Conference of the Parties (Cop28) in 2023, expected to bring nearly 200 countries together. The UAE is keen to work with all countries in collectively identifying practical, economically beneficial opportunities for combatting climate change with stronger partnerships and innovative outcomes to accelerate coordinated action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and UNFCCC.
Reaching this global stage comes after the UAE’s 15-year programme of climate action, generating innovative outcomes to drive sustainable economic growth. More than a decade ago, the UAE became host of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) headquarters in Abu Dhabi, and now houses three of the largest and lowest-cost solar plants in the world.
In September 2019, the UAE passed a federal law on climate action, requiring authorities to assess and mitigate climate risks prior to proceeding with projects. More recently, the UAE became the first country in the Mena region – and the first economy in the world founded on petrochemicals – to set out a strategic initiative to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with a $163 billion investment in renewable energy and a three-decade action plan.
In taking a holistic and collaborative approach, the UAE has invested $17bn in renewable energy ventures globally and $400m in soft loans for clean energy projects worldwide.
The UAE further strengthened its commitment to the environment and conservation of species, after Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, was elected as President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
She is the second woman to lead IUCN in its 72-year history and its first president from West Asia, after a majority of the 1,400 IUCN member organisations, representing more than 150 countries, cast their votes in favour of Ms Al Mubarak to be the international union’s 15th president.
Having only touched upon some of the UAE’s achievements, it is fair to say the nation has a history of making history. As we set our sights on even loftier ambitions, the UAE continues to uphold the very principles that have made the nation a world leader in its own right. Here’s to the next 50 years.