Leaders from all seven of the UAE’s emirates have paid tribute to the strength of the federation and its people on the eve of the country’s 47th anniversary.
Each expressed their thanks to the Founding Fathers, the seven sheikhs who agreed to unite in the interests of varying tribes following the regional withdrawal of the British in 1971.
In a statement published by the country’s government news agency WAM, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said the nation had made “quantum leaps” since its birth and was “awash with hope” as it approached its Golden Jubilee year.
He highlighted recent legislation changes - such as allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies and the introduction of 10-year residency visas for investors - as examples of the government’s continued commitment to progress and prosperity.
And in a Twitter post he expressed his delight on learning that the UAE had recently been ranked top in global passport index which rates countries on the basis of how many nations its nationals can visit visa-free.
“Our achievements are too many to count here but they absolutely speak for themselves across all fields,” he said.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, also paid tribute to the nation.
He said celebrating National Day represented a “message of duty and renewal of loyalty" to everyone living in the UAE.
“Civilised peoples and societies do not forget their leaders who laid the foundations for their glory, pride and progress,” he said.
“They celebrate them and cherish their memory, and continue to seek inspiration from them.
“We believe that the true wealth of the country is human wealth that the UAE is entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the age of artificial intelligence, armed not with money and oil but rather with educated and qualified Emiratis who possess the skills of the time.”
Hundreds of thousands of people across the country are expected to celebrate National Day this year at a host of specially planned events.
On Sunday, four commercial airlines will join seven jets from Al Fursan, the Emirates' aerobatics demonstration team, in a flypast all the way from Ras Al Khaimah to Abu Dhabi.
And in the capital, visitors to the Louvre Abu Dhabi can enjoy Nabati poetry recitations as well as hear a storyteller weave a tale inspired by objects from the museum’s permanent collection.
Festivities are not limited to the Emirates, however, with Saudi Arabians also paying tribute to the Emirates on social media. Hundreds of images of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were shared on Twitter, emphasising the close relationship between the two countries.
Young men in the Emirates reciprocated by plastering their vehicles with giant decals of UAE and Saudi Rulers.
Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, said he believed the consensus sought and found by the UAE's Founding Fathers had been instrumental to the country's success.
He said the Emirates had been created by a “meeting of sincere hearts” with the values of unity, compassion and cooperation.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, said cohesion amongst the country's nearly 10 million residents was one of the greatest legacies of the federation.
“In light of the overall advancement and prosperity of the seven emirates and the importance of our journey, the Union has become an icon and remarkable example in the region and the world and is one of the most successful and stable federal experiences,” he said.
Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, said the country was now a significant power on the global stage.
He said the UAE had earned worldwide respect for its "moderate and resolute foreign policy” and argued that its “prudent and balanced” approach to international affairs sought to end disputes through dialogue rather than aggression.
Sheikh Saud bin Rashid, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Umm Al Qaiwain, said investment in science had supported the nation's rapid economic growth. And Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Fujairah, noted the spirit of innovation that had enabled economic growth and cultural development.
“Apart from the celebrations on National Day, it’s the belonging that matters,” said Emirati Laila Khalid, 35, a coordinator for human resources and volunteers with the Dubai Expo 2020 team from Ajman.
“My family came here before the UAE became one country. My father and grandmother planted the flag on all of us, such is our love for the country. The unity means so much to us.”