UAE Cabinet reveals changes in response to Sheikh Mohammed's letter

Six points included in UAE Prime Minister's letter were discussed during a Cabinet meeting in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, chairs a UAE Cabinet meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Courtesy Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Twitter
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Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, will lead a committee to implement several directives addressed in an open letter written by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid at the weekend.

The Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai handed responsibility to Sheikh Mansour, who he described as a "graduate of the school of Zayed", for leading a new committee of ministers formed during a Cabinet meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

During the meeting at Qasr Al Watan, Sheikh Mohammed said he had "boundless faith" in Sheikh Mansour and his abilities. The committee will draft a framework to implement the changes described by Sheikh Mohammed in his letter. It will also submit a 100-day plan to Sheikh Mohammed for improving the performance of government and private institutions, to reinforce the country's economic and community performance and ensure that its citizens are happy, state news agency Wam reported.

On Twitter, Sheikh Mansour said the UAE’s federal government has high standards and Sheikh Mohammed’s directives set an example for international government performance.

"The reputation of the UAE was built by Zayed, it is cultivated by [President] Sheikh Khalifa and it is protected by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed [Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces] through consistent follow-ups and their crucial decisions," he said.

Sheikh Mohammed’s letter, published on Twitter on Saturday, was directed at the UAE’s ministers, government officials, leaders and the general public. It addressed government work and ways to improve Emiratisation, services and the country’s economy.

In the letter, Sheikh Mohammed spoke of the chaos some social media users caused when they claimed to speak on behalf of the UAE without the authority to do so. He said the UAE's reputation should not be affected because social media personalities "wish to increase their followers". He said that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation to manage the country's external affairs.

“We will not allow a group of Twitter users to mess with Zayed’s legacy of credibility and love and respect for people. The good image of the UAE and the Emiratis must remain bright as Zayed wanted and built,” he said in the letter.

In response to this, the Cabinet on Sunday directed the National Media Council to control social media sites and establish strict standards to defend the UAE and enhance its stature regionally and internationally.

The NMC on Sunday said it was "completely committed" to implementing the directives outlined by Sheikh Mohammed.

"We highly commend the directives of the wise leadership, and the council will immediately work to implement new measures," said NMC Chairman Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who is also Minister of State.

Dr Al Jaber said the NMC would pursue two routes to implement the directives. The first track is based on a legislative and regulatory path to monitor content on social media sites in the country to eliminate hate speech and discrimination, while the second will focus on raising awareness and educating people.

It also directed the Government Communication Office at the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future to monitor live news and social media feeds, and ensure that all federal authorities respond to inquiries and grievances from citizens.

Sheikh Mohammed’s third point targeted Emiratisation, which he said was a priority. He said changes would be made to make it more effective. At yesterday’s meeting, he said the next session would be dedicated to Emiratisation and how efforts to realise the strategy can be reinvigorated.

“Our message was delivered,” Sheikh Mohammed said, referring to the letter.

“Actions are more important than words and we will fulfil what we have promised. Our dreams are in the skies, but our feet are on the ground.”

Earlier, Sheikh Mohammed tweeted a picture of himself in a helicopter en route to a Cabinet session in Abu Dhabi. “The start of a new day, a new season of achievements and a new business trip in the UAE for the UAE,” he said.

“The first item I will discuss with my team is to activate and implement the ‘letter for the new season’,” he said.

In the document, addressed to his “brothers and sisters”, Sheikh Mohammed said government officials belonged in the field, speaking to the public to report their needs rather than in conferences. “We are a government of achievements and not a government of conferences,” he said.

The fourth point addressed the UAE economy, which Sheikh Mohammed said was improving along with foreign trade. “However, we are not a country that moves according to the average economic rates, we are a country that seeks to make economic leaps.”

Sheikh Mohammed’s penultimate point was an issue he frequently makes: the quality of government services. “We have repeated this tens of times – the goal of the government is to serve the people.”

He said he had seen Emiratis go to radio networks or TV stations to make complaints, after not receiving responses from ministers.

He said an institution that is afraid to face people is one that has lost its self-confidence, and called for every complaint to be met with respect and a willingness to solve the issues presented.

He ended his letter saying what was to come would be bigger and better than before.

“We are the fastest growing country in a number of projects. More importantly, we are a country that has the courage to face facts, review and continually adjust strategies to quickly move ahead towards the future.”