President Sheikh Mohamed on Wednesday addressed the nation for the first time since being elected leader of the UAE.
In a nationally broadcasted speech, he spoke of the country's successes and plans for the future, of which the backbone would be the strength and determination of its people.
He also paid tribute to the country's two previous presidents, Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father, and his brother, Sheikh Khalifa, who died in May.
1. Ensuring the happiness of UAE citizens
“The people of the UAE, and striving to empower them, always has been and continues to be our nation’s top priority. Their happy lives remain the basis of all our future plans.”
Laying out the country's key goals for the future, he said the happiness and prosperity of the Emirati people was the “first and end priority”.
Echoing the sentiments of the presidents that came before him, he said ensuring Emiratis have everything they need to live fulfilled, comfortable and happy lives “remains the basis of all our future plans”.
Since becoming president, Sheikh Mohamed has worked to improve the welfare of the country's citizens.
This week, he ordered the distribution of Dh1.5 billion ($410 million) worth of housing benefits to citizens living in Abu Dhabi. It was the second such announcement made this year.
Earlier this month, a Dh28bn ($7.6bn) social support package that provided subsidies to lower-income Emirati families for essentials including fuel, food and utilities was also announced.
Sheikh Mohamed said the existing social support programme for citizens would be restructured to raise annual financial assistance from Dh2.7bn to Dh5bn.
2. Acknowledging the contributions of UAE residents
“Our pride in our people is infinite. Equally, we deeply appreciate the valued role of our residents, who consider this country their second home. And their continued contributions in building and developing the UAE since its inception.”
Speaking of the challenges faced by Emiratis, before and after unification in 1971, Sheikh Mohamed said the country's citizens “have proven their spirit and determination” but he also acknowledged the contributions of the UAE's residents, who make up the majority of the country's population.
He saluted the hundreds of foreign residents that live and work in the UAE and “actively participate in the growth and development of our economy”.
Sheikh Mohamed said the UAE would continue to develop “thanks to the efforts of our people and those who have chosen to call the UAE their home.”
3. A need to further diversify the UAE's economy
“Further diversifying our economy is a key strategic focus of our future plans. It is therefore necessary to accelerate economic development efforts to continue building a leading global economy, to enhance our competitiveness and achieve the highest global rankings.”
The UAE's thriving oil and gas sector has been key to the development of the nation since its formation in 1971. Since then, it has worked to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels in preparation a more sustainable future and as part of plans to become a circular economy.
Great investment has been made across a variety of fields, including technology, heath, science and tourism, growing each sector to provide greater employment opportunities for citizens and residents, as well as scope for international collaboration and trade.
Sheikh Mohamed said all this has been possible thanks to the UAE's highly skilled human capital. He said the country possessed a “distinguished wealth of young manpower” that has contributed to turning the UAE into an advanced, sustainable and integrated ecosystem — making it an inspiration for people in the region and around the world.
He said the UAE was “blessed with many resources”, but none more so than its people.
Sheikh Mohamed also spoke of the importance of the private sector, saying it must be “further activated” through constant collaboration and diverse opportunities to increase its contribution to the growth of the economy.
4. Encouraging peace and respectful dialogue between nations
“The UAE’s policy will continue to champion peace and stability in our region and the wider world, supporting others and advocating for wisdom and co-operation for the good of mankind.”
He spoke of the UAE's relationships with other countries that share its values of peaceful coexistence. He said this was a continuation of Sheikh Zayed's legacy and that the UAE would continue to provide humanitarian aid and lend a helping hand to communities in need worldwide, regardless of religion or race.
He said the UAE would continue to work to strengthen co-operation between nations to enable positive, respectful dialogue to achieve stability and prosperity for all.
Sheikh Mohamed added that the UAE was well respected around the world and has fostered good relations with other countries “based on solid foundations of openness and constructive co-operation” since its foundation.
This will continue during the country's next chapter, he said, with the UAE building on its reputation by establishing “strategic partnerships” with other nations.
5. The best is yet to come
“The UAE has achieved a lot for a young country but our ambitions are greater still and we must continue to surpass our current success.”
Sheikh Mohamed acknowledged the UAE's achievements to date but said the goal was to strive for further development and growth. Over the past 50 years, the UAE has transformed from a quiet trading port to a formidable player on the global stage with a burgeoning economy.
In the span of a few years, the country also entered the space sector, sending the first Emirati astronaut to the International Space Station in 2019 and successfully launching the Hope Probe into Mars's orbit the following year. The UAE has since announced a lunar mission in which the Rashid Rover will be sent to the Moon's surface in November.
And long-term plans for the country are already in motion.
The UAE's Centennial 2071 Plan seeks to create a future-focused government, further improve education, diversify the knowledge economy and ultimately foster a happy and cohesive society.
Plans extending even beyond the next 50 years include building Mars Scientific City, a Dh500m project that will simulate the Red Planet's terrain, allowing researchers to prepare for future living on Mars by 2117.
But to make all of these dreams a reality, sustained focus and dedication is needed now, said Sheikh Mohamed.
“Our responsibilities are to ensure a bright future for our young people and achieving that depends on work and effort we put in today,” he said.