The UAE Cabinet has approved a plan to tackle the importing and distribution of drugs by announcing the formation of a new committee.
The plan includes the National Council Against Drugs, which will be headed by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
It will also enhance international co-operation in drug enforcement, strengthen collaboration between federal ministries and local authorities, provide means of early detection and improve treatment for addicts.
The council will also review existing legislation and propose necessary amendments to the Cabinet.
"Drugs are the scourge of this age, the cancer of societies and an epidemic targeting our dearest possessions, targeting young people, and combating it is a national duty for every parent and every government and security official," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
"The solidarity of government and educational agencies, security institutions and families together is the impregnable barrier to those who want evil to us and our children."
The UAE’s new drug law, introduced in January last year, treats drug addicts as victims and not suspects.
The law aims to provide leniency for first-time offenders and put a sharper focus on rehabilitation over punishment.
People convicted of drug use and possession will now serve time in secure detention offering treatment and education programmes rather than in prison with other convicts.
Deportation for expatriates in drug use and possession cases is no longer mandatory, with judges able to decide if someone convicted is allowed to stay.
The UAE actively co-operates with other countries to help tackle the distribution of drugs.
Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan, Deputy Chief of Police and Public Security in Dubai, said last year that the UAE has helped to arrest more than 500 drug dealers around the globe over the previous four years.
He said the UAE is now working with more than 55 countries to dismantle the networks of criminal gangs.
The Cabinet also reviewed a range of initiatives to encourage companies and people to use clean energy and green technology and support the improvement of air quality.
"A working group has been assigned to complete the study of regulating carbon emissions in the country before it is practically approved by the Cabinet," Sheikh Mohammed said.
"Preserving the environment is everyone's responsibility. We want economic development that preserves our environment for future generations."
In June, the UAE announced a nationwide campaign to boost public awareness about the nation's sustainability programmes.
The goal is to promote community involvement and motivate more people to adopt environmentally friendly habits.
The campaign's official website, sustainableuae.ae, showcases various national initiatives and success stories, demonstrating the UAE's dedication to environmental conservation and collective action for a sustainable future.
The campaign comes in the Year of Sustainability, as the UAE prepares to host Cop28 in November in Dubai, further strengthening its commitment to climate action.
National Sports Strategy
The Cabinet also adopted the National Sports Strategy 2031, which aims to increase levels participation in sports in society, to reach more than 70 per cent of the population.
The strategy will implement 17 initiatives in the coming years and focus on encouraging more community members to exercise.
The strategy will also develop elite sports professionals, discover talented athletes in schools, update the methodology of school physical education, develop sports federations and develop the sports law.
It aims to have more than 30 UAE athletes competing in the Olympic Games.
"Sport is the best alternative for our youth, it is the strong shield for the health of our society, and it is the way to raise the flag of our country in many international forums," Sheikh Mohammed said.
A senior health official in Abu Dhabi in October said only one-third of the emirate's residents are regularly active despite continuous government efforts to promote and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Dr Omniyat Al Hajeri, executive director of Community Health at the Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre, said that encouraging the public to be more active was a “universal challenge”.
"We've realised that this is an issue and many countries are facing it, especially after Covid and particularly with the younger generation," Dr Al Hajeri said.
“However, it's also important that we realise that despite all the available infrastructure that is expected to enable people to be active, we still have approximately only 30 per cent of the Abu Dhabi society considered to be regularly active, so it's clear that there's still a lot that needs to be done.”
Previous research also found that only about 19 per cent of people in Dubai do the recommended amount of exercise.
A study in July last year found that about one third of university students in the UAE are overweight or obese, with scientists warning that the rate is likely to increase as this generation grows older.