The end of the decade is just around the corner, and with the closing of one chapter comes the chance to begin another. At a time when most people are casting their minds towards new year’s resolutions and planning for the future, the UAE’s leaders are doing the same – only they are not just thinking about the next 12 months but looking 50 years ahead. As the Year of Tolerance reaches its conclusion, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, have jointly announced that 2020 will be the year planning begins on a grand scale for the nation’s Golden Jubilee in 2021, as the UAE looks forward to the next five decades. As the Vice President said: ““The UAE approaches its Golden Jubilee in 2021, a new milestone that celebrates 50 years of our young country and begins the journey to the next 50 years. Together, we welcome 2020: towards the next 50.”
To celebrate this landmark moment, the country is rolling out its most ambitious national strategy to date, spanning the next 50 years. The plan includes expediting growth in essential sectors such as health, education, transport and infrastructure across the Emirates. It also includes the creation of a special committee with the sole task of organising major celebrations in honour of the UAE’s 50th anniversary.
As 2020 approaches, this is a time to reflect on the UAE’s achievements and the great strides the nation has made since its foundation in 1971, when the emirates united to form one country and heralded the dramatic transformation to a global hub of finance, commerce and tourism that we see today. In its 48 years, the UAE has become home to residents from 200 countries. With the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2017 and the development of a museums district, the UAE’s capital is fast becoming a cultural beacon in the Middle East. Meanwhile Dubai is world-renowned as a global trading and technology hub, drawing talent from around the world.
In its future planning mission, the nation is not just contemplating geographical boundaries but spatial ones too. Last September Hazza Al Mansouri became the first Emirati astronaut to soar into space. He spent eight days aboard the International Space Station, setting a new record and inspiring a generation of young Emiratis to reach for the stars.
But the UAE’s space ambitions go beyond the ISS. The country’s Hope Probe is scheduled to take off into space next year and reach the planet Mars in 2021, where the UAE plans to build a colony by 2117. These endeavours aim to propel the UAE into the future and inspire its youth to think outside of the box and have faith in their country.
As Sheikh Mohammed tweeted: "Fifty years ago, the founding fathers shaped our life today and next year, we will shape the coming five decades for future generations."
These bold initiatives will form the bedrock of a post-oil future and empower the next generation to help shape the nation for years to come.