UAE will continue to be open and transparent, Sheikh Saif says

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior tells of country’s openness about Dubai hotel fire and death of soldiers as evidence of its clear communication.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, at the Government communication forum. Satish Kumar / The National
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DUBAI // The Government will continue to be open and transparent with its people and residents, Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed says.

Sheikh Saif, also Minister of Interior, made a closing address to the Public Diplomacy and Government Communication Forum about the importance of effective communication between the governments and citizens.

Sheikh Saif said the fire that gutted The Address Hotel in Downtown Dubai on New Year’s Eve 2015 and the deaths of UAE soldiers in Yemen was an example of how the Government did not shy from sharing information with the public.

“Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (Vice President and Ruler of Dubai) told us to show it (the fire) live on television, so our leadership didn’t hide anything,” he said.

“The same applied in Yemen when we declared the names of the 25 martyrs on the first day - we didn’t delay it, even when that number rose. You will never find such clarity and transparency in any country in the world to declare its losses in such a manner to let people know the facts.”

Founding Father Sheikh Zayed believed that messages to the people should be honest, clear and direct, said Sheikh Saif.

“These outcomes and results are not just in prosperous times but also during challenging times and times of crises. When we are available and the outcomes show that the UAE is first in the region and (leading) on the citizens’ level of confidence in government, then this is transparency and real communication.”

Sheikh Saif gave another example of the UAE taking steps to overcome negative messages and influences during the period when the seven emirates were being united.

“The British and Iranian governments at that time kept saying this union won’t last and advised Sheikh Zayed to stop,” he said. “So he went to Iran to meet the shah and told him we in this region should cooperate with each other and we in the UAE see ourselves as a state that could positively contribute to the Asian continent.

“It was a significant visit in terms of direct positive communication.”

Sheikh Saif said the award of Expo2020 to Dubai showed the UAE was a outward-looking nation.

“Maybe my testimony of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid might be considered biased because he is a teacher, a father and a friend but [when] you see his actions, you can read his own way of thinking,” Sheikh Saif said.

“Very recently, he ordered his Government to have a programme to attract intellectuals, from students, scientists, scholars, inventors and manufacturers, for innovative ideas and for the future. He even dedicated funds for such projects.”

The leadership is increasingly embracing social media as way of reaching the population and the world as these channels are a faster, more accurate and popular way of getting messages across, Sheikh Saif added.

“We spoke transparently about our objective to reach Mars,” he said. “Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces) both graduated from military school, and we know the importance of communication when it comes to losing or winning a war. So the accuracy of the information coming from a soldier to his leadership or vice versa is the secret to winning any war - that’s why they both know very well the importance of communication to achieve goals.”