More jobs and more homes: Sheikh Khalifa reveals next vision for UAE

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the president of the UAE, yesterday unveiled an expansion of the country's political base, alongside plans to create jobs and build 10,000 new homes for nationals.

The 41st National Day celebration with fireworks on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. Sean Blake / The National
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Sheikh Khalifa, the President, yesterday unveiled plans to make the political process even more inclusive, create jobs and build 10,000 new homes for Emiratis.

In an address to mark the 41st anniversary of the nation’s birth, Sheikh Khalifa announced the country will continue with the gradual approach it has taken to further lift participation in decision-making.

“We shall continue our efforts to reach a viable political model that reflects our realities and play in harmony with the nature of our own society,” the President said.

“Yet, such a model should be compatible with the level of advancement that we have made so far in terms of economic progress, and urban, civil and human development.”

The political model will be “truly nationalistic”, he said, and would preserve the national identity and protect established principles.

“It is a model to which all of our fellow citizens and national institutions shall contribute, especially our national elite,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

“Our intellectuals, creative men and women, scientists, teachers, artists, engineers and doctors are the true treasure of our nation and their role in mobilising the capabilities of our people is indispensable.”

A committee will also be set up to help develop the UAE’s workforce.

One of its main tasks, the President said, would be to oversee the Emiratisation programme in public and private sectors.

“The committee will also be responsible for encouraging cooperation with the private sector to train Emiratis and provide them with the knowledge and experience they need, thereby increasing employment opportunities for the national cadre,” said Sheikh Khalifa.

A package of initiatives will aim to develop infrastructure and services in all emirates, including “above all, housing, water and electricity supplies, road networks, bridges and dams, hospitals, schools, mosques and fishermen’s ports”, he said.

“All this will lead to an increase in public spending and the creation of more sustainable employment opportunities, which will in turn enhance Emiratisation efforts and stimulate active and positive participation on the part of national human resources in the labour market,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

The country will also launch a housing programme that aims to build 10,000 homes throughout all regions of the UAE, he said.

“It is our belief that housing forms the basis of psychological, social and economic stability for local families, and so it is within our constant remit to provide a suitable lifestyle for all our citizens,” the President said.

He said the country was closely following changes taking place in fellow Arab countries.

“We call upon all the concerned parties to come to reason and uphold the national interest of their own nations, but we reject any foreign intervention in their internal affairs,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

“Moreover, we strongly reject any intervention in our own security, sovereignty or meddling in our internal affairs.”

With regards to Palestine, he said a just and comprehensive peace would not be realised without the “full withdrawal” of Israel from the occupied Arab territories.

Living in peace is a sacred right of every human being, Sheikh Khalifa said, and the UAE would continue to support international efforts to keep the region free of weapons of mass destruction.

“We call upon the international community to pressure Israel to join the treaty of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and we urge Iran to show full co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and remove concerns about its nuclear programme.”

The forefathers of the UAE formed the country based on piety and noble ethics, and the country continues to follow the same path, the President said.

“On this day, we call for further collective efforts to strengthen our march,” Sheikh Khalifa said. “Protection of the Union is an indisputable national objective.”