"I'd like you to keep this in mind, this time shall pass. But it requires some patience."
Those were the words used by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, when he addressed the nation in March last year as the UAE and the rest of the world grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nineteen months on, he spoke to the public again, to call for a return to normality as the UAE bounces back from adversity.
In March 2020, countries around the world went into lockdown, borders closed and flights were grounded, infections rates climbed and a grim global death toll began to mount up.
Sheikh Mohamed remained steadfast in the face of the challenges ahead, praising the UAE's robust response to the outbreak and hailing the dedication of its frontline workers.
The UAE acted quickly to combat the pandemic.
Field hospitals were set up across the Emirates to ease the strain on health services.
Schools and offices emptied as remote working and learning practices were adopted to limit the spread of the virus, while places of worship and many non-essential businesses temporarily closed.
The public were directed to wear masks and abide by physical distancing rules as a "new normal" quickly emerged.
Sheikh Mohamed at the time reassured the public that the country had ample medical and food supplies amid concerns over international travel restrictions.
“I'd like to reassure every citizen and resident of the UAE that our country is infinitely able to supply everyone with all the food and medicine they could ever need,” he said.
He issued a rallying cry to citizens and residents alike to stand together and support the fight against the pandemic.
"Our traditions are very dear to us but we must be practical during these times. I ask every Emirati and resident to do what is necessary, and let's not allow our traditions to become a source of harm to our families and society.
"Take care of your mothers and fathers and families."
In the early months of the outbreak, Sheikh Mohamed delivered his supportive message at a distance, using video conferencing technology.
Sheikh Mohamed calls for return to normality
Fast forward to October 6, 2021, and Sheikh Mohamed was able to offer renewed hope at an in-person majlis.
He declared that the UAE had "overcome the Covid-19 crisis" and that the UAE was in a strong position.
"I am blessed to see your kind faces today. I announce to you that things are good; the health condition in the UAE is good. I would like to affirm to you all that our lives must get back to normal," Sheikh Mohamed said.
"We thank God that we have overcome this crisis with our well-being, dignity, safety, health and experiences that have cost us but from which we have learnt a lot."
He offered condolences to all who had lost their lives during the pandemic as he looked ahead to better times.
"2020 was difficult and has witnessed great challenges, but the UAE, thanks to God, was able to be one of the first countries to emerge from the crisis at a time when some countries faced great difficulties.
"The number of cases in the country has decreased to less than 500 [per day]. This is promising and indicates that Covid-19 is under control and less dangerous than it was."
Infection rates have dropped significantly since June, hitting an 18-month low of 156 new cases on Wednesday as mass screening and inoculation campaigns pay dividends.
More than 85.5 million PCR tests have been conducted, while more than 20.2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered to the public so far.
Schools are now welcoming back pupils in large numbers, workers are returning to offices and the UAE is once again hosting world-class events.
Expo 2020 Dubai – which was postponed for a year owing to the pandemic – is now under way, providing a beacon of hope to the world that a life after Covid-19 can be achieved.