UAE ministers respond to Sheikh Mohammed's letter

Officials say they are ready and committed to implementing Sheikh Mohammed's directives

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The UAE’s ministers and business leaders have praised Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid for the points he made about improving government services in an open letter he wrote at the weekend.

The Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai published a six-point letter on Saturday that called on ministers to immerse themselves among the people to serve them better and confront any issues raised by Emiratis head on.

In it, he criticised those social media users who he said spoke on behalf of the UAE without having the authority to do so, wrote of reinvigorating Emiratisation and revamping real estate projects to boost the economy.

The following day, Sheikh Mohammed chaired the first UAE Cabinet meeting of the new season and formed a committee, led by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, to implement the directives outlined in the letter.

Sheikh Mansour praised the federal government’s high standards and said 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.

The Cabinet also directed the National Media Council to monitor social media sites and establish strict standards to defend the UAE. On Sunday, the NMC said it was "completely committed" to implementing the task.

"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.

He said the measures would improve rational discourse and deliver the UAE’s message in a civilised manner.

"It is a huge responsibility. Belonging to the UAE itself is a great honour," Dr Al Jaber said.

"Our words must be said or written carefully, as we have learnt from the wise leadership to shoulder our responsibility in the best way."

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

Addressing Sheikh Mohammed’s call for ministers to spend more time in the field, rather than conferences, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi said he was committed to supporting UAE citizens at every level.

"We are among the people. Today, we are renewing our commitment for the new season to support farmers, fishermen and everyone working to sustain the environment of our country, to achieve the vision of its leadership," the Minister of Climate Change and Environment said.

"Those sweating under the sun and working in all sectors to serve our country deserve our support. As we have learnt from our elders, responsibility is a duty, and not an honour. We learnt this approach from our founding fathers, and we will pass them on to future generations who will build our country," he said.

Emirati businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor, who is the founding chairman of Al Habtoor, said the new directives showed that Sheikh Mohammed was a true leader.

"Once again, [Sheikh Mohammed] demonstrates the example of a leader who is protective over the interests of his country and people, who leads by example and who does not hesitate to criticise our government departments and institutions to improve their work and better serve UAE citizens," the billionaire tycoon said.

He said Sheikh Mohammed’s call for ministers to engage with Emiratis and learn their real concerns was the same approach taken by UAE Founding Father Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid, former Ruler of Dubai, during their leadership.

"This is the secret to the success of the UAE," Mr Al Habtoor said.

On the prime minister’s point about reinvigorating real estate projects to add value to the UAE economy, Mr Al Habtoor said: “This is what we need and what we have called for previously but we also hope for increased government regulation over expanding real estate projects.

"We have great confidence in the future and strength of the UAE economy, the jewel of the Gulf and the world. We renew our confidence and commitment to our leadership."