Instead, the UAE's strong response to the pandemic symbolised the country's spirit and values.
In a message of hope, he vowed that the coming year would lay the groundwork for a prosperous future as the nation prepares to come together to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Emirates in December.
He pointed to the major accomplishments of the UAE during the past 12 months, including the development of the Barakah nuclear power plant, the pioneering mission to Mars by the Hope probe and the historic signing of the Abraham Accord, ushering in a new era of diplomatic ties with Israel.
"Fifty years ago, our Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed, may his soul rest in peace, laid down the core values for our new nation: peace, hope, equality, tolerance, openness and coexistence," Sheikh Abdullah said.
"It is these values that helped us endure the extraordinary year of 2020, and underpin the UAE’s commitment to making 2021 a year of recovery, growth and decade-defining ambitions."
Sheikh Abdullah said that the start of major vaccination programmes around the globe offered renewed hope that better times lay ahead.
"While the last 12 months have challenged the entire world as we have collectively fought Covid-19, the introduction of effective vaccines and breakthrough treatments has sparked hope for a recovery that will stimulate economic growth, facilitate international connectivity once more and boost the quality of life for all, while improving global health outcomes," he said.
He said he was proud of the part played by the UAE in the fight against Covid-19 – from supporting medical research to delivering crucial aid to nations hardest hit by the pandemic.
"This spirit of goodwill and faith in a post-Covid future was just as evident abroad as it was at home – from the UAE’s hundreds of repatriation flights, the thousands of tonnes of medical assistance and equipment provided to countries and frontline workers around the world, and our partnership with the World Food Programme for the global delivery of food and medicines," he said.
"Therefore, the UAE will continue its efforts in the fight against Covid-19 and in making the world a better place."
The UAE will take centre stage in October when Expo 2020 Dubai gets under way after being delayed by 12 months because of the pandemic.
"We will welcome the world in October 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai, which extends the hands of friendship to more than 190 participating countries and global organisations," Sheikh Abdullah said.
As the UAE looks forward to its Golden Jubilee, Sheikh Abdullah said the nation was well on its way to reaching the lofty goals set by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.
"A decade ago, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid announced to the Cabinet his vision for 2021: 'To make the UAE among the best countries in the world'. The four supporting pillars of this vision were prosperity, knowledge, destiny and responsibility," Sheikh Abdullah said.
"In overcoming the challenges we faced over the past 10 years, we have come a long way towards achieving this vision. We have a prosperous, growing, sustainable economy, world-class health care, a first-rate education system, a strong judiciary and a cohesive society that is now acknowledged globally as one of the safest in the world.
"Finally, the stage is indeed set for our nation to achieve truly spectacular accomplishments before our centenary in 2071. The only limit is our imagination. The only challenge is our creativity. The only path forward for the UAE is illuminated by boundless enthusiasm and hope for a more peaceful and prosperous future for all."