UAE leaders on 2020: a challenging year that highlighted the country's strength

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed reflect on key achievements for the Emirates during a turbulent 12 months

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President Sheikh Khalifa congratulated the leaders of all "friendly countries" worldwide ahead of the New Year on Thursday. He wished them good health and more progress and prosperity to their people.

The country's leaders reflected on a year of exacting challenges and landmark achievements for the UAE as the country prepares to usher in 2021.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said the UAE had demonstrated its true values and shown "strength in unity" during a tumultuous 12 months dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an uplifting message posted on Twitter on New Year's Eve, he said 2020 had highlighted that health and family must come before politics and economics.

Sheikh Mohammed shared a video charting the highs and lows of 2020, including images of empty roads in the UAE – as stay-home measures were implemented – and the inspiring successes of the nation's landmark mission to Mars and its historic signing of the Abraham Accord, which laid the foundations for diplomatic ties with Israel.

"The year 2020, a year of challenges and accomplishments," Sheikh Mohammed wrote on Twitter.

"A year in which the true values of our country appeared, a year in which we proved that we are the strongest in our unity, in our tolerance, by our giving.

"A year of gathering our families, gathering our hearts, gathering all our work teams in facing the great challenge. And the UAE took the full mark of success."

Sheikh Mohammed said lessons could be learnt from an unforgettable 2020.

"2020 taught us a lot. We learnt that strength is in unity, that happiness is with the family, that excellence is in giving, that health comes before politics and economics, that trust in youth can reach us into the galaxy and split the atom, that the UAE is above everything and everything.

"And that the idea of union is stronger than everything and everyone."

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also reflected on the UAE's resilience over the past year, saying the country overcame "unprecedented challenges with strength".

"As we enter 2021, we do so with a shared sense of unity, determination and optimism for the new year ahead. I wish the people of the UAE a safe, prosperous and happy new year," he said on Twitter.

The Covid-19 outbreak had wide-ranging implications for people across the world, prompting lockdowns, air travel bans and job losses, and a death toll of 1.8 million.

Amid dark times, however, there were moments to cherish for people in the UAE.

The Hope probe – the Arab world's first mission to Mars – soared into the skies on July 20. It is due to reach the Red Planet in February.

There was comfort to be taken from the response of the country's frontline health workers as they dedicated themselves to supporting patients battling Covid-19.

History was made on September 15 when the UAE and Israel at the White House agreed to normalise relations.

"We're here this afternoon to change the course of history, after decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries," President Donald Trump said at the start of the signing ceremony.

At the ceremony, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani each signed agreements with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.