Latest: 15 pictures from Sheikh Mohammed's 15 years as prime minister
On January 4, 2006, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid became Ruler of Dubai, following the death of his brother, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid.
The following day, members of the UAE Supreme Council elected him as vice president and approved President Sheikh Khalifa's nomination for him to be prime minister.
It would be another month until Sheikh Mohammed and the members of his Cabinet took their oaths before Sheikh Khalifa at Al Bateen Palace in Abu Dhabi, on February 11.
On Sunday, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, shared a letter in which he reflected on the country's progress since that day. He spoke of the long-term plans presented to Sheikh Khalifa and the Supreme Council in 2009 and how, after 15 years of hard work, many have come to fruition today.
The letter reads:
"15 years ago I began leading the UAE Cabinet. In front of the UAE President, God protect him, and in front of you all, I swore to God Almighty to be loyal to the UAE, protect its union, expand its interests, respect our constitution and look out for the interests of our people.
"You were witness to that moment and God witnessed my oath too. God knows we exerted every effort and God knows we do not pander to anyone at the expense of our country.
"A year later, I announced before my brother, the President of the State, and his brothers, members of the Supreme Council, the country's first federal strategy. In 2009, we announced the UAE Vision 2021, and that we want to be one of the best countries in the world. Some have questioned the feasibility of launching a strategy and goals spanning 12 years but today we see the results are a reality that our people live in.
"What happened during these years was amazing. Thousands of teams on federal and local levels worked to achieve the vision adopted by the president, God protect him.
"We have entrenched the principles of strategic planning in the government, and distinction and competitiveness became a culture within our institutions. We carried out the largest legislative reform process in our country through more than 50 new laws to keep pace with the future. We changed the way we provide 2,500 government services from a traditional method to a smart one.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid - in pictures
"The UAE government became second in the world in financial competence. We restructured the government several times to cope with changes and increased the federal budget by 130 per cent. We strengthened our competitiveness to the first worldwide in 121 indicators and our work is ongoing.
"The UAE passport today is the strongest in the world. The percentage of people who feel safe in the UAE is higher than 95 per cent. Our country is first in the world in the overall financial stability index, in the number of internationally accredited hospitals, ease of access to electricity, in providing mobile internet broadband, and second worldwide in its government's ability to adapt to changes.
"Our economy is second largest in the Arab region and we are first when it comes to attracting foreign investment and for ease of conducting business. Within the Arab world, we are in the first place within 437 international indicators and our sovereign and government finance ranking is highest in the region.
"We are the first Arab country for efficiency of the rule of law and judicial system and there is no fear in a country where justice prevails, the law is respected and human rights are protected.
"We changed a lot of our legislation. We provided everything needed to be the best country worldwide when it comes to attracted talents, first in the world for government partnerships with the private sector and first worldwide for financial skills in the public sector.
"And our education is the best in the Arab world in sciences and mathematics. Our spending on research and development in universities exceeded Dh8bn in 2020 alone.
"Over the past period, my brothers and sisters, the federal government has pumped more than Dh40bn in housing, Dh140bn in education, Dh94bn in social development programmes, and Dh50bn in the health sector and community protection.
"The average lifespan of our population is approaching 80, and our country is ranked third globally in the physical health index and in people's satisfaction with our healthcare. And there are many other indicators that our local federal taskforces have achieved over the past 15 years, leading to 2021.
"Brothers and sisters, the past 15 years spent with the federal government were not easy. I recall when I was first appointed as head of the government, people warned me against disastrous failure.
"People warned me to maintain my successes in Dubai and not to venture into new responsibilities. I remember I was cautioned by one prominent Emirati individual many years afterwards by saying 'all of us expected you to fail and we were wrong'.
"My response has always been 'success is not mine, success is for the entire team, success is for each individual who awaits a chance for change, success is for the thousands of young people we trusted and who proved to us that they are worthy of our trust'.
'A dignified life for all'
"The question is: what did we learn over the past 15 years?
"We learnt that the union is strong, has resolve, is good, is a blessing, and is a great achievement that we must protect, cherish and sacrifice for it together. Each local government works hard – and this is good – but we remain a large home that is the Emirates, our great address is the UAE, our original identity is the Emirates and we are driven by the spirit of the union. And if not for this spirit, our team would not work well together and if not for the sacrifices we make daily, the success of the UAE would not have been achieved.
"I learnt over the past 15 years that one of our biggest secrets of our success is our care for our people and human respect, no matter where they're from, preserving human rights, supporting people so they can strive to do better and dream bigger, and providing people with a decent life.
"We must protect these values if we wish to continue: the value of tolerance, co-existence, respect, justice and a dignified life for all. These are the values that we will maintain for the next 20 years to come. These values are more important than any development project – those projects are made by people and people cannot achieve within a country if they do not have a system that protects them.
"We also learnt that success is not measured in the number of completed projects, indicators achieved or quantity of resources but rather in the satisfaction of people, who will remember us in future generations and think well of our country. Success is providing safety and security and carrying out our national responsibilities before God, our country and our President.
"Fifteen years have passed quickly, filled with work and accomplishments. We did not stop, hesitate nor look behind us and we are achieving the vision of my brother Sheikh Khalifa.
"In these 15 years, my brother Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has been a friend, companion, supporter and leader. Without him, the federal government would not have succeeded nor progressed at this pace. If not for his wisdom, vision and support for the federal government then our country would not be as successful as it is today.
"I have worked with my brothers Sheikh Saif bin Zayed and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed as one team for 15 years. They have taken on great responsibilities and carried the nation over their heads. They followed up on government work and continued to work hard without tiring. They have all the thanks of the Emirati people, which also extends to the UAE Cabinet.
"To all our young men and women who are loyal to our homeland, who gather around our leadership, and who aim for their country to be among the highest ranks, we say God protect you and bless you in your service for our country. We have 50 years ahead of us to go towards a greater and more beautiful future.
“What is to come requires doubled efforts and new blood. God protect our country.”