The President Sheikh Khalifa said the UAE was looking to the future after a year of exceptional challenges.
To mark the UAE's 49th National Day, Sheikh Khalifa paid tribute to the frontline workers who turned the tide in the battle against coronavirus.
Wam reported that the President said despite the significant losses of life and finances this year, the pandemic underlined "the efficiency of our healthcare system, [and ] how prepared our country is in the face of emergencies and crises".
Sheikh Khalifa said the country's communication and technology infrastructure enabled the nation to move easily towards remote work and online learning.
He said the introduction of strict precautionary measures and an effective national sterilisation programme proved crucial in controlling the spread of the virus and the country was able to offer medical care and protection to citizens, residents and visitors.
"We extend our deepest appreciation to the dedicated workers for a crisis well managed, for a decisive confrontation of the pandemic, for the preservation of the nation's security, for the protection of its economy, for safeguarding the well-being of its community and for ensuring the sustainability of the educational process," he said.
His comments came in a statement to Nation Shield, the UAE Armed Forces magazine. Sheikh Khalifa also spoke about a special year that brought the launch of the Emirates Mars Mission, the opening of the Barakah nuclear power plant – a first for the Arab world – and improved food security.
While the country celebrates its 49th birthday on Wednesday, thoughts are already turning to next year when the UAE celebrates its Golden Jubilee. Sheikh Khalifa said that by 2071 the UAE will become the first in the world in global indicators for well-being, happiness and quality of life.
"Looking to the future with optimism, anticipating its horizons and pre-planning its paths is an authentic Emirati approach for which the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan laid the foundations with his brothers, the Founding Fathers."
As part of "our project for designing the next 50 years, some of the decisions we took included the renaming of ministries, merging some, and creating new ones", he said.
Ministers were also appointed to focus on areas of crucial importance such as scientific research, advanced technology and artificial intelligence and the digital economy.
Other areas Sheikh Khalifa said the country was focusing on developing were remote work, renewable energy, food security, women empowerment and youth protection, as well as nurturing a future generation of qualified Emiratis and attracting high-calibre foreign talent.
He said the UAE "succeeded in making remarkable achievements" in people's empowerment, raising the levels of participation and strengthening the role of the Federal National Council by increasing the representation of both women and youths.
"The UAE's political empowerment programme is a sustainable one that will remain guided by Emirati society and its virtues," he said.
Regarding the country's economic achievements, Sheikh Khalifa said those were reflected in several global competitiveness indicators that highlighted the "resilience of our economy and its high ability to confront economic shocks and fluctuations, as well as global challenges".
This was made possible, Sheikh Khalifa said, thanks to an economy that boasts a successful economic diversification policy, large investment assets, wide trade relations, diversified exports and, even more importantly, empowered individuals capable of and free to create ideas and enterprises.
Sheikh Khalifa said the UAE served as a model for progress and sustainable development and set an example with its values of tolerance, coexistence, openness and rejection of hatred. The country also sets an example for the justice, equality, security, well-being and prosperity it provides to its citizens.
"We have succeeded in establishing a healthcare system of global standards, a high-level educational system, community development programmes, distinguished social care, nationwide housing projects, an integrated infrastructure, a sustainable environment ... and other remarkable achievements that have enabled us and our people to successfully surpass the stage of empowering to begin creating the next 50 [years]," he said.