Preparing for the future – near or far – starts today, not tomorrow, President Sheikh Khalifa said ahead of the country's 46th National Day celebrations.
In his annual address, Sheikh Khalifa noted that 2017 has been an eventful year for national work, development and achievements, which have propelled the UAE to the top rankings in international economic, competitiveness and developmental indices.
This hard-won progress is proof of the diligent efforts made by the federal government and local governments to create an innovative working environment as well as a friendly climate for the business sector so as to contribute to the government policy to diversify the economic base, Sheikh Khalifa said.
"The path towards a better future begins with the diversification of the sources of national income," Sheikh Khalifa said. "When we launch projects for renewable energy, space technology and oil derivatives industries; when we create opportunities for small scale enterprises and for tourism, financial and logistic services; and when we invest in human resources, we actually mean diversification.
UAE National Day
"Investment in human being has always been the essence of the vision for the development of our state since its establishment.
"Consequently, our focus is mainly directed towards fostering and supporting excellence and innovation and developing the capacities and skills of Emirati human resources.
"A development that is not human-oriented is doomed to failure."
The UAE president thanked Emirati citizens for their loyalty and diligent work on the occasion and invited all institutions to launch initiatives in 2018 that celebrate the nation’s founding father, in the Year of Zayed.
Looking further ahead, Sheikh Khalifa noted that the recent Cabinet reshuffle, which included the appointment of the world's first minister for artificial intelligence, will set the country in motion for the next five decades of successes.
"Preparing for the future – near or far – starts today, not tomorrow," Sheikh Khalifa said. "Out of this conviction, we approved in last October a cabinet reshuffle, which included unprecedented and qualitative portfolios, whose mandate is to prepare the country for the UAE Centennial Plan 2071 so as to become more capable and resilient to absorb the potential transformations over the next five decades and their implications in areas of businesses, jobs, services and the development of qualified manpower and excellent leaders."
Other UAE leaders echoed a future-gazing theme raised by Sheikh Khalifa.
The strong bond between the UAE people is the true shield against external attempts aiming to undermine the nation’s ambitious future, said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
The UAE has become more stable and powerful thanks to the noble legacy of patriotism passed down through the years, he said.
"Many people think that we are just dreaming. But we remind these people of the fact that our Union started as a dream at the hands of visionary people.”
The UAE dream of becoming the best is justified and verified by the advanced rankings boasted by the country across world competitiveness indexes and reports.
"On the regional level, the UAE is the fastest growing country; our government performance is the most efficient; our services are the smartest; and we have ensured this kind of harmony between our advanced technologies, our production and wealth-creation systems in a way that does not negatively impact the cultural and humanitarian legacy upon which our blessed Union is based."
The country has managed to innovate ministries and governments that will help foresee the future and make sure that the UAE maintains a leading role in development, the Vice President said.
“As part of our Centennial Strategy, we have formed a new government that includes newly created portfolios, primarily Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Sciences and Food Security.”
“We have to be well-prepared and ready to deal with major world trends at the technical, economic, intellectual and political levels. There is no room for waiting and complacency,” he explained.
UAE National Day
He told Emirati youth: "The road to the future is not smooth sailing; but by your strong will, determination and hard work, we will realise our ambitions and become best of the best, always and forever."
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces said the second of December is a day that will be remembered forever.
"Brothers and Sisters Some days in the history of nations are remembered forever - and the 2nd of December is such a day in the history of the United Arab Emirates. This is a day that is associated with a fond memory,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
This day witnessed the establishment of a country that has become a model of success and an example of a cohesive nation, he told Nation Shield.
“This day should fuel all of us with an inexhaustible energy to do more and to work harder to preserve our national heritage that was bequeathed to us by the Founding Fathers; to do more to keep the UAE a beacon of unity and strength and a centre of charity and unconditional giving that extends to the entire human race.”
He called on to the Arab world to cooperate and take common action in the face of threats and challenges facing their states today.
“The menace of terrorism and extremism, the escalating sectarian tension, the continuous attempts by foreign parties to meddle in the region's internal affairs; these are parties that aim to achieve their own agenda and ambitions at the expense of the region and its peoples.”
This national day, gives the nation more reasons to celebrate, having named 2018 as the Year of Zayed, after Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the UAE to mark 100 years since the birth of the country's founder.
"Truly, Sheikh Zayed is celebrated as a universal symbol of charity and unlimited giving and global proponent of peaceful coexistence among all nations,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, said: "The second day of December is the moment on which all the history of our ancestors came together, to lead us confidently towards a bright future, with great hopes and great responsibilities for us and our children, an occasion which we celebrate each year."
Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Ruler of Ajman, said the journey never stops.
“Every year, the UAE accomplishes great historical achievements and starts off with limitless ambitions,” he said. “The journey of the UAE is an endless train that never stops and is determined to move forward to achieve great goals."