When the United Nations General Assembly concluded last week, the plane ride home was a time to reflect. While the UN has made enormous strides in human progress, and at its best can galvanise the world around a great common cause, it is also a platform that can demonstrate more tension and division than unity and a clear path forward.
Upon returning home, I was rejuvenated by the contrasting collective purpose on display, as the UAE Government Annual Meeting got under way in Abu Dhabi, a gathering with the dual purpose of measuring progress on the goals for Vision 2021 and setting a bold, comprehensive and progressive vision for what the UAE can achieve by its centenary in 2071.
This was an uplifting gathering on a number of levels. In all, about 120 national initiatives covering 30 sectors were shared, generating fresh ideas for advancing our collective well-being. Having a positive vision for a better tomorrow is one thing, making it a reality comes down to setting clear key performance indicators and constantly measuring against them. By taking stock of each and every plan, testing and improving it, we are shaping our future, rather than allowing externalities to determine our destiny.
Structured discussions spanned a wide range of topics, including the economy, education, energy, the environment, health, infrastructure, space exploration, science and technology. Each sector had a focused, detailed plan of action attached to it, aimed at propelling the UAE to best in class, if not world leading, within a defined time frame. We are applying this performance-driven approach to every segment of our country, including Adnoc, where the progressive transformation under way is designed to make the company more agile, competitive and commercially focused, ensuring our natural resources continue to play a vital role in driving our prosperity and enabling our full economic diversification.
Our collective national efforts are bearing fruit, according to a number of global indices. The UAE climbed eight places in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking for 2017, to remain the most business-friendly country in the Middle East. The country also moved up seven spots in the 2017 World Happiness Report, again leading the region. Such forward momentum does not happen by chance, but is a function of rigorous planning, hard work and flawless execution. Most importantly, a highly engaged and motivating leadership has also been a key enabler of success.
Chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, together with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the two-day meeting included the participation of the Crown Princes of each emirate and more than 400 representatives of both the federal and local governments, all focused on one unifying goal of how to build on our successes and move the UAE forward. In short, the meeting was itself yet another perfect illustration of the fact that the UAE is a "House United."
It was our Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, who first instilled in the UAE a culture of continual self-improvement, and insisted that we make the most of our resources and capabilities. His foresight created a country that is committed to creative collaboration, defined by diversity and dedicated to human progress.
The UAE has always placed as much emphasis on giving back to the global community as it has on advancing the well-being of its own people. According to the OECD, the UAE is the world’s most generous donor of international aid per capita. Building on this record, the UAE’s soft power strategy was also discussed at the meeting. It will take the advances the country is leading on, and offer them as models for development that can be leveraged throughout the region and beyond, extending the UAE’s contribution to addressing global challenges.
Since its foundation, the UAE has made measurable improvements to the lives of its people and those of many countries around the world. This remarkable collective legacy has engaged all of us, whether in government, the private sector or civil society, and, while we should look back with pride at what the UAE has achieved since its inception, it is equally important for us to look forward to what together we can accomplish for generations to come.
HE Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is Minister of State
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