On National Day, we look back but also forward

This auspicious day allows us to reflect on the year gone by, writes Taryam Al Subaihi

The UAE preserves an environment in which every citizen leads a life of dignity and security. (Sarah Dea / The National)
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It has been a long and challenging journey these past years for all of us in the region, and around the globe.

Every country has, in one form or another, dealt with the repercussions of the global economic crisis of 2008. Lessons were learnt, with some adhering to their learnings more than others. But as developed countries, we worked together, stood tall and faced yet another global crisis together, many of us coming out the better for it.

The United Arab Emirates has always pushed forward to be a front-runner in the climb towards progress, realising at an early stage, alongside many fellow progressive nations, that the world needs to start thinking smarter, and looking further forward along the path ahead.

As a country, we began considering the unexpected, realistically managing our expectations with a clear vision of possible outcomes but a determination to move forward, come what may.

The UAE’s long-standing vision of progress once more became the foundation of an innovative concept, further improving the nation’s strategy during trying times by building on previous steps, made from solid experience, with our eyes still firmly locked upwards towards our goals.

And as if to put our acquired knowledge and experience in dealing with global crisis, we were introduced to the historic drop in oil prices in mid-2014, bringing down the value of oil to less than half its once healthy and long-enduring price.

The oil prices for three years before 2014 proved to be troublesome because as consumers, producers, governments and private sector companies, we all became accustomed, as we do, to the comfort and luxury of steady and safe oil prices, making the change even more difficult to manage.

It is during these trying and uncertain times that the Emirates proved that it had maintained its principles and vision of progress by combining it with the invaluable lessons learnt from the economic downturn.

Knowledge centres, strategic committees, new federal and local authorities and much more were created, all aimed at keeping information flowing and building tried and tested, ever-evolving, long-term strategy and forecasts.

As a nation, we have triumphantly taken our place back on the ladder towards progress and development with a clear strategy and stronger will.

At the end of this challenging period, our children, our brothers, our fathers, our sisters, our daughters and our family answered the call to arms to protect and defend this great nation.

Our love goes out to all the families that lost a hero. If anything, this new page in our history has brought the people of the UAE closer together and created a community spirit awareness that was, for the most part, taken for granted.

The new direction has indeed led to a stronger family culture on a national level. We are all in this together and though we charge towards an era of complete peace, we perhaps must figure out our way through this challenge collectively as a people first.

In his key note speech at the Government Summit 2015, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said: “Since its inception, the UAE has been sending a message to the others that this region can still be a source of benevolence, peace and love for the whole world.”

Sheikh Mohammed also spoke about the UAE’s contribution in humanitarian fields, not only through the government, but also by its citizens, residents and businessmen.

We come once more to celebrate and mark the day of the UAE’s conception.

This auspicious day allows us to reflect on the year behind, not only looking back at the last 12 months, but always benchmarking it with the principals, morals and ethics created by the Father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed and carried forward and upwards by his son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President.

And though many have heard this line by Sheikh Zayed: “A nation without a past is a nation without a present or a future”, what comes after is even more inspiring: “Thanks to God, our nation has a flourishing civilisation, deep-rooted in this land for many centuries. These roots will always flourish and bloom in the glorious present of our nation and in its anticipated future.”

These are words to hold close on this National Day.

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

On Twitter: @TaryamAlSubaihi