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Home > Focus
 
UAE - A unique model in national cohesion and unprecedented achievements

(Wam) / 30 November 2012

ABU DHABI -- On 2nd December 2012, the United Arab Emirates, celebrates its 41st National Day with great zeal and fervor, while advancing steadfastly and confidently on its path for more prosperity, unprecedented development and achievements in all spheres of life.

The construction phase in the development story of the UAE, began with the wisdom, patience, loyalty and generosity of the founding father, the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, last year on the occasion of country’s 40th National Day paid rich tributes to the founding fathers and stressed that the achievements the UAE has made had catapulted the country into the ranks of advanced nations, thanks to the sincere and tireless efforts spearheaded by the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his fellow founding fathers, who toiled in silence to initiate a march whose aims fit with our genuine national values and principles.

Shaikh Khalifa said “This Union that is with us today in terms of political achievement and socio-economic reality was neither a gift or a grant nor an easy achievement. Rather, it was the fruit of a good tree planted by our fathers who dreamed of the idea with hope, took care of it with their dedication to raise the flag of the Union as high as they could and strengthened its pillars. They are really the spirit of the Union; from their life and history, generations will draw lessons and will continue to carry the responsibility under the eyes of a glorious nation that takes pride in its past, its giving present and promising future”.

The federal march then continued with the leadership of His Highness Shaikh Khalifa, who launched, with his wise vision and inimitable leadership experience, the empowerment stage in all political, economic, social, scientific and cultural fields.

On another occasion Shaikh Khalifa, at the opening of the Second Ordinary Session of the 15th Legislative Chapter of the Federal National Council on November 6, this year, stressed: “The convening of the new session of the Council coincides with the dedicated efforts of our citizens in the march of achieving the UAE Vision 2021 fortified with determination and design, and inspired by the legacy of our fathers and grandfathers, and relying on a comprehensive program for national action and integrated strategic plan of the Federal Government.”

Noting that the role of the FNC had already developed since the launching of a gradualist programme of political empowerment in 2005, particularly since the holding of a second round of elections for the Council’s members in 2011, the President told the FNC: “Your membership in this Council is a great trust and responsibility. Governance here belongs to those who have bestowed their trust on you”. “So be solicitous to maintain your eligibility to have received this trust and be committed to the interests of the country and the citizens.”

Members must work, he said, to protect the bonds that link all segments of UAE society, “In our quest to entrench the culture of consultation and participation in decision-making, as well as to emphasize the importance of individual opinions in formulating the opinion of the society.”

Unique model for national cohesion

The 40th National Day celebrations last year, embodied the slogan (Spirit of the Union) and established values of loyalty and mutual love between the leadership and the people. Meanwhile, the 41st National day adds deeper dimension and proves that the outstanding Federal march is no longer a pioneering experiment only in unity, but has become a unique model in the national cohesion and positive interaction binding UAE’s leadership and its citizens and unite them in order to build a bright future.

While attending the meeting of the Federal Supreme Council of the Rulers of Emirates on December 2nd, 2011, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa, and Their Highnesses, Members of Supreme Council, Rulers of Emirates, reiterated that the achievements scored by the UAE over the last 40 years were fruits of the strenuous and sincere work by Emiratis. “The contribution of UAE people to building their country will always be highly appreciated”.

Their Highnesses, Members of Supreme Council also welcomed the decree issued by the UAE President on establishment of the “Head of State Merit Award,” adding that this initiative will have a very positive impact regarding honouring of all who work and contribute to the nation-building.

They paid tributes to the founding fathers who had shouldered the historic responsibilities to build the Union, stressing that the role of those founders and others who had worked with them “represents a national role model to current and coming generations”.

Shaikh Khalifa highlighted “Our State, is classified today as one of the best states, in terms of the efficiency of services and public policies and in terms of the government credibility towards the community, and counted among the most stable and secured countries”.

Embodying the spirit of the union

On the occasion of the 40th national day celebrations, Shaikh Khalifa, on November 30, 2011, issued a number of decrees within the framework of his keenness to achieve welfare of the citizens and help them get their ambitions in a stable and comfortable life.

He issued a decree to increase salaries of all federal government employees with effect from January 2012.

In the framework of his concern and interest to provide a better life to his citizens, Shaikh Khalifa ordered the establishment of a fund with a capital of AED 10 billion to examine and address the loans of citizens with limited income and settling their personal loans in coordination with the Central Bank and creditor banks in the state.

He also ordered an increase of 20 percent of the allocation of social benefits to some cases that receive subsidies from the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The President also issued an order to the ministries, government departments and competent authorities to treat children of Emirati women married to foreigners equally like citizens. It also granted the sons of Emirati women, the right to apply for the UAE nationality at the age of 18.

Another decree was issued to allocate 2,500 residential plots to citizens in the emirate of Abu Dhabi

in the framework of his keenness to provide adequate housing for citizens and to achieve social stability and a secure future for themselves and their families.

Shaikh Khalifa issued another federal decree establishing an annual award, entitled “Head of State’s Merit Award” in the form of a medal and financial reward and is aimed at supporting the spirit of the Union, values of giving and national cohesion by honoring loyal people with outstanding and creative contributions that will enhance the country’s stature at all local, regional and international levels.

Executive business strategies.

The United Arab Emirates adopted a new approach in the executive performance based on specific business strategies with clear goals and objectives in the framework of its commitment to keep up with the challenges and requirements of the new millennium.

In this context, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan launched new strategies to enhance political empowerment plans and programs, particularly the future strategy with setting its goals in the mobilization of resources and energies, its approach of cooperation and coordination between all that is federal and local, as well as updating the decision-making mechanisms and raising the efficiency of government entities and their effectiveness.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched on February 28, 2010, the second round of federal government strategy (2011-2013).

The strategy consists of seven general principles and seven priorities focusing on the core areas of government work and performance.

The strategy top priority is to provide the highest levels of prosperity and a decent life for citizens, by upgrading the education and health care systems and focus on social development and the improvement of governmental services so as to enhance UAE stature worldwide.

Moreover, Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid launched in 2007, the first strategy of the UAE government documenting for the first time, the institutional government action and is working on developing and improving the executive performance on scientific grounds.

The strategy’s objectives focused mainly on achieving sustainable and balanced development and ensuring prosperity for citizens along with establishing a new phase of government action keeping pace with economic changes and focusing on best practices in order to achieve prosperity, on one hand, and enhance UAE stature, regionally and globally, on the other hand.

Shaikh Mohammed also announced on February 6, 2010, the launch of the UAE National Historic Charter for year 2021, coinciding with the country’s golden jubilee anniversary under the theme: “We want to be one of the best countries in the world”.

He specified four main components of the national charter: firstly, ambitious confident people, who stick to their heritage, secondly, strong union with common destiny, thirdly, competitive economy led by UAE nationals characterized with innovation and knowledge, and fourthly high quality life endowed with sustainable environment.

UAE’s Vice President also stressed, during the Cabinet meeting held on September 11, 2011, that education and Emiratisation are two key priorities in the work of the government. They also represent a national responsibility that calls for synergizing and integrating all national initiatives for achieving the aspirations of the people of the UAE and ensuring their welfare and decent living.

During the same meeting, the cabinet approved UAE’s education agenda until 2020 and the three-year strategy of the National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority (Tanmia) for 2011-2013.

The education agenda adopted by the cabinet is based on five fundamental themes that focus upon the betterment of student achievement, development of the school environment, guaranteeing of equal educational opportunities for all students, programmes for promoting patriotism among students and enhancement of administrative efficiency and effectiveness in the Ministry of Education.

The strategy sets specific goals for reducing unemployment among the citizens and rolls out plans for continuous training and empowerment of the local workforce to enable them for job relocation and actual participation in the job market by filling jobs in the private sector.

The Cabinet also approved, on February 27, 2012, the Federal E-government plan until the year 2014, aiming at raising the level of electronic transformation in government services and establishing advanced electronic infrastructure along with providing appropriate legislative, organizational and legal infrastructure to provide advanced electronic services.

In this regard, Shaikh Mohammed confirmed that goal in the coming period, is focused on completing the conversion of all government services to electronic services within two years.

UAE topped Arab countries in UN’s world happiness and satisfaction survey

The United Arab Emirates has topped the list of Arab countries and ranked 17 worldwide in the UN’s first ever world happiness and satisfaction survey, announced in April 2012.

On this occasion, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum stressed that UAE’s founding fathers had their eyes set on providing means for prosperity and happiness to all citizens.

He added that the founding fathers’ approach had become a vision for the government and an action plan that impacted its policies and decision.

He elaborated :”The development plans we approved, the initiatives we launched and the policies and laws enforced, have all but one goal; to bring about happiness to the citizens, their families and their children. What we have achieved so far is just an initial milestone that will follow by harder work and more accomplishments so we can become the world’s best”.

A similar survey conducted by TNS Middle East & North Africa market research organization on August 14, 2012, also revealed that 91% of citizens are happy with life in the UAE and enjoy a better quality of life than most of their European counterparts.

According to Steve Hamilton-Clark, CEO of TNS MENA, compared to a similar measure, the Standard Eurobarometer, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden are marginally ahead each with 97 per cent of citizens stating an overall high degree of satisfaction and the UAE joins this elite golden’ league with a 90 plus score.

He added that UAE’s satisfaction rating also exceeds the All Europe Index at 75 per cent as well as those of other leading European nations such as Germany at 88 per cent, Belgium and the United Kingdom both scoring 87 per cent, France at 76 per cent, Spain at 73 per cent and Italy at 64 per cent among others.

The UAE satisfaction rating among nationals is on par with indices for Scandinavian countries, considered the gold standard’ in such surveys.

GDP increased from AED 6.5b in 1971 to more than AED one trillion in 2010, raising the per capita income to AED 132,000.

Moreover, the state ranked the first Arab Country, 30th Globally, according to the index of human development world report 2011 released by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on January 8, 2011.

The report stressed that that although UAE has achieved the highest per capita income all over the world, it has also achieved unprecedented leaps in human development particularly healthcare and education by virtue of its successful strategies and vision of investing its income in these two areas.

Deepening the culture of democratic participation

The Federal National Council (FNC), which represents the legislative authority in the country, witnessed qualitative leaps since its inception in February 12, 1972, particularly with holding of a second election in September 24, 2011, where 20 members representing half the members of the Council including a woman, were elected.

His Highness Shaikh Khalifa at the opening of the first Ordinary Session of the 15th Legislative Chapter of the Federal National Council on November 15, 2011, said: “Your convening today is a successful culmination for the second phase in our course to deepen the culture of participation and develop its practices which we have taken with full national will and we are determined to move forward to achieve the aspirations of our people in a homeland to share and be proud to live in and belonging to it because empowerment is the spirit of the Union.

Shaikh Khalifa, highlighted the intention to move steadily towards achieving the purposes of the political experience, sustainable development and to expand political participation.

His Highness said “The Federal National Council has witnessed a qualitative development in terms of consolidating its experience in the practice of democracy with holding its second election in September 24, 2011 where 20 members were selected representing half of the members of the Council, including a woman, after expanding the base of electoral bodies at the state level to more than 129 thousand and 274 members”.

On his part, Shaikh Mohammed, at the opening of the new session, expressed his appreciation for FNC’s sincere efforts, and cooperation with the government in its march towards achieving strategies of UAE Vision 2020.

The 2011 election has resulted in the election of 20 members, including a woman, and the appointment of 7 female members, which enhanced the role and participation of women in political life and parliamentary work.

On February 12, 2012, the Federal National Council celebrated its fortieth anniversary, to be an entity expressing the concerns and issues of the nation and citizens, and help the government in carrying out its duties, and a partner to assume the responsibilities of national action.

The Council also participated, regularly and effectively, in all conferences and meetings of the Gulf, Arab, Islamic and international parliamentary unions.

It has hosted the fourth regular meeting of the speakers of GCC Shura and Deputies Councils and National Assemblies, 24th meeting of the Executive Committee of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC member states (PUOICM) and 13th session of the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States (PUOICM).

 

Foreign policy

The underlying principles of the UAE’s foreign policy were established by the founding President of the Federation, the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, focussing on balance and moderation.

The solid strategic foundations of this policy are represented by a commitment to the Charter of the United Nations, respect for International Law and charters, and the establishment of relations with all countries based on mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and the pursuit, wherever possible, of peaceful resolutions of disputes as well as support for just causes and international security and stability.

The UAE’s diplomacy has met with a good response from other countries and has produced strategic political, economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, educational and healthy partnerships with many countries in different continents of the world. This has enhanced the nation’s outstanding international status.

In recent years, the UAE’s foreign policy has displayed farsightedness, with active steps being taken, both regionally and internationally, to build an extensive network of common interests with the rest of the world and to serve national development, the exchange of expertise and technology transfer and other mechanisms which serve national interests and the economy.

As part of this, the UAE has made intensive efforts and has taken active measures to contain tensions, crises and disputes in the region and beyond. It has actively sought to enhance its direct and indirect humanitarian, relief, and its development and economic aid programmes for developing countries, those which suffered conflicts or natural disasters,in particular. It has also contributed to a number of peacekeeping missions and to the protection of civilians and reconstruction efforts launched after the cessation of conflict.

This reflects the UAE’s outstanding partnerships with a number of parties and its dedication to achieve the noble goals of preserving international security, peace and stability.

On 22 September 2012, the UAE’s Foreign Minister H.H Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the UN Headquarters in New York to exchange views on the developments of urgent regional issues, including the Middle East peace process, the Palestinian issue, the crisis in Syria, the Iranian nuclear issue and other issues of common concern that are on the international organization’s agenda.

Shaikh Abdullah reiterated the UAE’s support to the Palestinian cause which calls for the UN to enhance its role in finding a permanent, quick and just solution, including putting further pressure on Israel to immediately halt its illegitimate settlement activities on Palestinian territories and to withdraw from all Palestinian and Arab territories it occupied in 1967 including East Jerusalem, Golan Heights and Lebanese lands.

On the Iranian nuclear issue, the two sides agreed on the need for Iran to comply with the relevant resolutions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council.

Shaikh Abdullah confirmed to Ki-Moon the UAE’s support for the UN’s efforts including the mission of the United Nations-Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, to stop violence and find a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of the crisis, in accordance with the aspirations of the Syrian people.

Shaikh Abdullah pledged that the government of the UAE would continue to provide generous humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees.

For his part, the UN Secretary General hailed the UAE’s humanitarian contribution. He expressed to Shaikh Abdullah the UN’s appreciation of the UAE’s efforts and its significant humanitarian role in backing the efforts of the international organisation and the rest of the international community, including its humanitarian assistance. He expressed the hope that the UAE would continue its role and contribution, and, in particular, its support for the United Nation’s humanitarian plans and programmes for disaster-hit regions, including assistance to the Horn of Africa.

The UAE’s humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees amounted to AED56 million by the end of October, including food, mobile hospitals and medical aid.

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) held a “Partnership to Invest in Future Syria” conference, organised, under the patronage of, and in cooperation with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 21 November.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.H Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, stressed that organising this conference is in line with the UAE’s international commitments as well as with its role alongside Germany as co-chair of the “Economic Recovery Working Group for Syria”, which was established by the “Friends of Syria Group” with the mandate to support the development of the Syrian economy.

He also said that the conference will help combine the efforts of multiple international organisations tasked with developing the Syrian economy and rebuilding its infrastructure.

“What is happening in Syria is heartbreaking, and exceeds all limits and humanitarian norms,” Shaikh Abdullah said. “The United Arab Emirates is following the events in Syria closely, with deep concern at the escalating acts of violence perpetrated by the Syrian regime against its people, which have stripped the regime of its legitimacy.”

In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Shaikh Abdullah called upon the international community “to soberly consider what is happening to our brothers in Syria, and to shoulder its humanitarian and political responsibilities to stop the heinous tragedies committed against the innocent people of Syria.”

“We are convinced that the solution to this crisis will only be achieved through an orderly transition of power,” he added.

This severe humanitarian crisis, Shaikh Abdullah added, “requires us to support the people of Syria, particularly the refugees, the displaced, and the wounded. The United Arab Emirates has shouldered its obligations to the people of Syria and will continue to do so by providing ongoing relief operations round the clock in Turkey and Jordan, and we urge all States to contribute to these humanitarian efforts.”

He also said: “the United Arab Emirates welcomes the considerable progress achieved in the political process in Somalia through the completion of the transitional phase, the convening of its Constituent Assembly, the adoption of the Constitution of Somalia and the election of Hassan Shaikh Mahmud as the new President of Somalia. We also reaffirm our support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of Somalia, and look forward to working with its government towards achieving security and stability and countering piracy.”

Shaikh Abdullah stressed that the United Arab Emirates remains committed to supporting the security and stability of Afghanistan, and reaffirmed the continuation of the UAE’s humanitarian and developmental support to this distressed country. “In this context, we welcome the outcome of the donors’ conference that was held in Tokyo, hoping that the pledges announced in that conference will contribute to the process of reconstruction in Afghanistan. As we are approaching the year 2014, we look forward to closer international cooperation to ensure a future free of violence, extremism, and terrorism for Afghanistan.”

In his speech to the UN, the Foreign Minister also expressed the UAE’s deep concern about the violence against the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar. He called upon the international community to move towards urging the Government of Myanmar to stop acts incompatible with the principles of fundamental human rights, as recognized by international conventions.

Reaffirming the UAE’s commitment to all requirements of nuclear non-proliferation, Shaikh Abdullah renewed the UAE’s support for the efforts aimed at making the Middle East, including the Gulf region, a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

“We also demand that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and subject its nuclear facilities to the comprehensive safeguards system governed by the Treaty,” he said.

“Also in this regard, we urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to implement its international commitments, in order to dispel all fears and suspicions surrounding its nuclear programme. We look forward to a peaceful solution to this crisis that ensures the elimination of tension and crises from our region, guarantee the transparency of Iran’s nuclear program, and confirms its peaceful nature.”

The Foreign Minister noted the UAE had started developing a nuclear energy programme for peaceful uses in 2009 to meet a growing demand for energy and to support economic development.

“We have ensured that the rules and regulations of this programme are based upon the highest standards of safety and security, and upon the principles of non-proliferation. I take this opportunity to call upon the States of the region to draw on the experience of the United Arab Emirates in this field, and study the aspects of transparency, technology, and safeguards upon which this program is based,” he said.

He also renewed the UAE’s firm condemnation of all acts of terrorism, illicit trafficking in drugs and arms, and organised crime, which are interlinked phenomena, and reaffirmed its resolve to continue cooperating with international and multilateral efforts aimed at total elimination of these negative activities, which pose a direct threat to international peace and security.

In service of this goal, he noted, the UAE had announced the establishment of the “Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism”, in collaboration with several other states, which will begin its work in Abu Dhabi at the end of this year.

The Minister went on to say that “The UAE strongly condemns abuses against Islam, as freedom of expression should not undermine any religion or belief, whatsoever. We also condemn the violent reactions to such abuses.”

Shaikh Abdullah added: “The UAE emphasises the importance of consolidating the values of tolerance, moderation, and respect for religions, as well as the importance of protecting religions against defamation and contempt, and stresses the need to develop necessary legislation in this regard.”

He said the UAE’s convictions are based on its commitment to the values and principles of combating terrorism, human rights, women empowerment and peaceful coexistence for all peoples, religions and sects.

The UAE has diplomatic relations with 183 countries in six continents.

It has 68 embassies, 9 consulates and 3 permanent missions overseas. In the UAE, there are 99 foreign embassies, 75 consulates and 15 bureaus for international and regional organizations. Upon the establishment of the UAE Federation in 1971, only the United States, the United Kingdom and Pakistan had embassies in the UAE.

UAE as a safe haven for expatriates

The UAE hosts millions of expatriates from around two hundred nationalities from six continents. They and their families enjoy good living standards, security and stability as well as full rights governed by strict laws which regulate labour relations.

They also enjoy freedom to worship and to perform their religious rituals freely and safely. The effective laws guarantee their right to transfer savings to their families in their home countries. Foreigners working in the UAE are estimated to have remitted AED 41.2 billion to their home countries in 2011, compared with AED 38.8 in 2010.

In comments made on 29 October 2012, Minister of Labour Saqr Ghobash said: “ In the UAE, human rights in general, and workers’ rights in particular, are closely monitored by the leadership to preserve human rights and dignity in conformity with the UAE values and national legislation applied to citizens and residents without discrimination. Hence, the UAE has become a magnet for different nationalities.”

Ghobash noted that the situation in the labour market is governed by legislation and policies that provide protection for workers and ensure at the same time the legitimate interests of employers.

He noted that several reports had been issued by organisations concerned with labour affairs, notably, the International Labour Organisation, which had praised several initiatives being implemented by the labour market in the UAE. Amongst initiatives taken, t he minister cited the Wages Protection System (WPS), which has become an innovative model for Arab, region and international levels to ensure workers receive their wages on time.

He also noted the introduction of the right of workers to change their jobs, based on the provisions of their contracts and on regulations governing labour market. Workers, he said, have the right to litigate while the Ministry of Labour allows workers to lodge complaints against employers at the competent labour courts in case parties fail to settle a case amicably. Many cases, he added, are settled in favour of the workers.

He said the UAE had introduced a package of measures and policies to assist labour-exporting countries in protecting their workers, prior to coming to the UAE to work, from any exploitation and illegal practices such as having to paying to recruitment agencies for job listings and opportunities. These measures were taken in consistence with the Ministerial Consultation on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labour for Countries of Origin and Destination in Asia, better known as the “Abu Dhabi Dialogue.”

In 2008, the UAE took the ground-breaking step of hosting the inaugural Ministerial Consultation between Asian destination countries and Colombo Process countries in Abu Dhabi to discuss a comprehensive approach to managing the entire cycle of temporary contractual work that fosters the common interests of countries of origin and destination.

The UAE’S three islands

Based on its approach, which is founded on the principles of peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as on its interest in keeping tensions away from the region, strengthening confidence-building measures, resorting to the international legitimacy, the UAE continues its efforts to regain sovereignty over the three islands of Abu Musa, and Greater and Lesser Tunb, which were occupied by Iran on the eve of the establishment of the UAE Federation on 2 December 1971.

On 22 September 2012, the UAE’s Foreign Minister H.H Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in a statement before the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, expressed his regret at the continued Iranian occupation of the islands.

He stressed that security and stability in the Gulf region represent a high priority in the UAE’s balanced foreign policy, which derives its principles from the Charter of the United Nations and the provisions of international law—especially those calling for peaceful coexistence, confidence-building, good neighborliness, mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and resolving conflicts and disputes through peaceful means.

Shaikh Abdullah demanded the restoration of the UAE’s full sovereignty over these islands. He emphasised that all actions and measures taken by the occupying Iranian authorities are illegitimate, and are contrary to international law and to universal norms and values.

He called upon the international community to urge Iran to respond to the repeated peaceful, sincere calls of the UAE for a just settlement of this issue, either through direct, serious negotiations or by referral to the International Court of Justice to settle this dispute in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the provisions of international law.

“We hope the Iranian Government will deal with this sensitive and important issue in a positive and just manner, in order to establish good neighbourly relations, build bridges of cooperation, preserve the common interests between our two countries, and strengthen security and stability in the region as a whole,” Shaikh Abdullah said.

The UAE’s peaceful approach to the restoration of its sovereignty on its three islands is supported by the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab League, the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, the GCC Parliamentary Union and a number countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe who Latin America, all of which have expressed their full support for the UAE’s right to, and sovereignty over its three Islands and have called upon Iran to end its occupation of these islands and to respond to repeated peaceful and sincere calls of the UAE for a just settlement of this issue.

Foreign aid

The UAE is at the forefront of international humanitarian work and development aid. This role is well-recognised by the United Nations which has chosen the country as a major hub for its humanitarian worldwide efforts and operations.

On 28 September 2012, H. H. Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon in New York. During the meeting, Ban Ki-moon thanked the United Arab Emirates for its generous support offered to the programmes and development activities affiliated to the UN. He also expressed his hope for future achievements in the cooperation between the UAE and the UN on humanitarian operations in affected areas.

On 18 April 2012, A United Nations Refugee Agency official hailed the UAE’s contribution to efforts to protect human dignity and improve the humanitarian conditions of refugees around the world. May Kadkoy, Protection Assistant High Commissioner, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), described the UAE’s humanitarian initiatives as “courageous and noble.”

Kadkoy made her remarks at the opening of a 2-day workshop organised in Abu Dhabi by the Ewaa Shelters for Women and Children and the international agency under the theme “Principle and Directives for Evaluating Human Trafficking Cases.”

In his foreword to the UAE Foreign Aid Report 2011 on 29 September 2012, H.H Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid ,(OCFA), announced that the UAE had disbursed a total of AED 7.74 billion (US$2.11 billion) of foreign aid, benefiting 128 countries across the world, and had committed a further AED 674.9 million (US$183.7 million) in 2011.

The amount represented a significant increase in the total amount of disbursements, compared to the two previous years.

“Our development initiatives in countries across the world have played a meaningful role in the creation of valuable infrastructure, including roads, hospitals, schools and water supply systems, to promote inclusive progress for all the citizens of the countries where we have supported projects,” Shaikh Hamdan said.

“Supporting development is not only about helping fund new infrastructure, it is also about contributing to individual wellbeing and advancement.”

He praised the efforts made by the UAE donor organisations for their continuous assistance to help the most neglected members of society by providing shelter, food, and education to orphaned and deprived children, to help them enjoy a better life, and the efforts made by the people of the UAE, whose generosity and concern for the welfare of those less fortunate, he said, had helped to confirm the nation’s commitment to its aid initiatives around the world.

The UAE Government was again the largest donor in the country in 2011, , giving AED 5.97 billion, more than 77 percent of total aid, followed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), which disbursed AED 782.3 million. AED 6.86 billion was disbursed for development projects, an increase of 210.2 percent over the figure for 2010.

The UAE also responded generously to humanitarian crises, dispatching coordinated UAE Relief Teams to contribute to international efforts to assist those displaced by fighting in Libya, the victims of the famine in the Horn of Africa, and thousands of people affected by flooding in Pakistan.

Overall, AED 625.3 million was spent on humanitarian aid in 2011, an increase of 54.2 percent over the figure for 2010. A total of AED 253.1 million was devoted to charitable projects, an increase of 36.9 percent over 2010.

UAE Foreign Aid 2011, the third annual report on the UAE’s humanitarian, development and charitable aid to other countries, draws together a wide range of facts and figures to give readers a clear picture of the UAE’s foreign aid.

It is comprised of data from 34 UAE donor organisations, including the UAE government, foundations, the private sector and NGOs.

During the first half of 2012, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) provided loans and grants amounting to AED 255 million. These included a development loan worth about AED183 million to finance a project in Eritrea to support its economy in tackling the budget deficit and achieve growth.

The Fund also provided grants amounting to AED15.9 million for Somalia and Tunisia in addition to two other grants offered by the Government of Abu Dhabi with a total value of AED56 million to finance development projects in Afghanistan.

Since the inception of ADFD, a total of AED 29.1 billion has been provided, both from the Fund and through projects financed by the Government of Abu Dhabi that are managed by the Fund, for 321 development projects in 58 countries, through loans, grants, equity participation and other means.

ADFD was established on 15 July 1971, as a leading national entity to provide development aid to developing countries in the form of concessionary loans and administering grants on behalf of the Abu Dhabi government.

The aim is to finance development projects in order to support efforts to achieve economic and social development in developing countries. ADFD also makes investments in order to encourage the private sector in the recipient countries to play an essential role in accelerating the economic development process.

In terms of humanitarian assistance, the UAE Red Crescent Authority (RCA) had given over AED3 billion by the end of 2011. Of this, AED 1.3 billion were channeled to conflict zones and areas affected by natural disasters, while AED354 million had been spent on orphan sponsorship programmes.

Other international aid announced during the year has gone to the United Nations and its various agencies, with a donation of US $ 2,194,000 being announced on 14 November. Of this, US$ 324,000 will go to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), US$200,000 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), US$100,000to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and US$100,000 to the Fund to Support Marine Navigation in the Strait of Malacca.

A donation of US $ 42 million has also been made during the year to the Palestine Authority, to help to alleviate its financial crisis, part of continuous support from the UAE to the Palestinian cause.

Socio-economic prosperity

With high standards of economic prosperity and social welfare, the UAE has maintained its stature as a key actor in the world economy and as a safe haven for foreign investment.

In 2011, the UAE ranked fifth in the world with regards to its ‘Level of Financial Stability’ in the index of the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Financial Development. It was also ranked 25th worldwide for its competitiveness and has been placed amongst the top 10 countries in the world in more than 18 indicators of competitiveness globally.

The UAE also continued to lead the Arab region and is ranked 19th globally in the Global Enabling Trade Report 2012 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). It also figures among the top 10 nations in Efficiency of Import-Export Procedures as well as Physical Security in the report covering 132 countries.

The Enabling Trade Index assesses four key areas of performance, namely Market Access, Border Administration, Transport and Telecommunications Infrastructure and the Business Environment, and sub-indices within these broad areas. The index provides a yardstick of countries’ performance in creating enabling trade environments and pin-pointing where improvements are most needed.

Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the Minister for Foreign Trade, has said: “The Global Enabling Trade Report 2012 highlights the UAE’s excellent trade infrastructure and its resilience in the face of a global economic downturn. Our performance is significant in a world of rising global interdependence and growing international trade. The UAE has created competitive advantage in trade through targeted policies, infrastructure investment and innovation in improving the efficiency of its trade process.”

“Trade has historically been a key economic driver of the UAE and the country will continue to adopt policies and measures aimed at enhancing trade in the region and around the world as a source of prosperity and growth, and towards reaching the country’s Vision 2021 to become among the world’s most competitive nations,” she added.

The WEF report highlights other strong areas of performance reflecting the UAE’s on-going commitment to trade, including, Border Administration (11th globally), Transport and Communications Infrastructure (18th globally), and Business Environment (12th internationally). The UAE is top in the Middle East region in all these areas.

In another development, the UAE improved its ranking in the Doing Business Report 2013 of the World Bank to 26 among 183 countries, from 33 in 2012, and stood second behind Saudi Arabia in the region. The UAE was also ranked 22 globally, compared to 46 in 2012, and first in the Arab world in terms of the ease of starting a business in 2013. Moving higher up in the rankings mark the successful outcome of the exemplary procedures being put in place by the UAE to facilitate doing business and enhance competitiveness.

Sultan Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, has said :”We welcome the world to do business and live in harmony. We provide opportunities for personal and professional growth in an environment that is secure and open-hearted. Our growth engines are our non-compromising commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.Our GDP is over AED1 trillion and last year we recorded a growth of about 4 per cent, a trend that is expected to prevail this year as a result of the government’s policy of diversifying sources of income and investment in development projects. The contribution of oil to GDP is only 29%,” the minister added.

The country has also recorded important achievements in terms of its global competitiveness. The WEF’s “The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013” said the UAE had risen three places in the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) to take 24th position. The improvement reflects a better institutional framework as well as greater macroeconomic stability. Higher oil prices buoyed the budget surplus and allowed the country to reduce public debt and raise the savings rate.

Overall, the country’s competitiveness reflects the high quality of its infrastructure, where it ranks a very good 8th, as well as its highly efficient goods markets (5th). Strong macroeconomic stability (7th) and some positive aspects of the country’s institutions such as an improving public trust in politicians (3rd) and high government efficiency (7th) complete the list of competitive advantages.

The Report has classified the UAE economy for the seventh year consecutively among the top 23 world economies based on innovation and creativity.

Moreover, according to the World Trade Organisation, the UAE was the world’s 20th largest exporter and 25th largest importer in 2011, with exports worth more than $ 285 billion in 2011, out of total world trade of $ 18.2 trillion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in August that the UAE economy had fully recovered from the impact of the global economic crisis and the overall gross domestic product growth is projected to be 2.5 per cent in 2013.

In its World Development Report 2012, the World Bank commended the UAE’s economic diversification strategy to reduce dependence on oil as a key source of income, saying the policy will create more job opportunities.

The UAE’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) made a meteoric rise from just AED 6.5 billion in 1971, when the Union was born, to AED 1.243 trillion on current prices in 2011, to maintain its position as the largest in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia’s economy. The GDP growth was estimated at 19.3% in 2011 compared with 2010.

The foreign non-oil trade sector rose in 2011 compared to that in 2010 with the volume of the investments reaching AED one trillion, overcoming all the negative consequences resulted from the financial crisis prevailed all over the world during 2008 together with the political and social changes and challenges through which the whole region is passing.The non-oil foreign trade sector rose to AED 1.3 trillion in 2011, compared to AED 1.1 trillion in previous year, according to statistical reports released by the Federal Customs Authority (FCA).

Overall, the total value of the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade rose from AED 754.3 bn in 2010 to AED 927.7 bn in 2011 with an increase of AED 173.4 bn, a growth of 4%, while the value of free zones’ trade increased to AED 367.7 billion, of which AED212.5 billion was the value of the imports and AED145.2 billion was value of the exports and re-exports.

The UAE has signed and adopted nearly 100 agreements on avoidance of double taxation and protection and encouragement of investment. These agreements included the most important trading partners of the UAE like the US, UK, China, India and the EU. This are strengthening its regional and international role through creating a distinctive investment climate of public and private sectors and developing the air transport sector. In addition, these agreements increased the volume of trade and tourism exchange, which contributed to the achievement of economic and social development for the UAE.

Foreign investment

The Ministry of Economy launched on 20th June 2012 the UAE Investment Map to promote the sustainable and balanced development of the country. The initiative will also contribute to GDP growth by stimulating the investment environment and attracting investment and technology that will drive the knowledge economy in addition to reducing the dependence on oil by diversifying revenue streams.

The launching of the UAE Investment Map is in line with the strategic directions of the Ministry for 2011-2013 to enhance the investment environment and the competitiveness of the national economy by targeting international markets and attracting large investment projects to the UAE.

The initiative will serve as an indicator to guide global investors and introduce them to the various investment opportunities across all sectors of the UAE economy through a systematic and scientific approach.

The initiative is also part of the UAE Vision 2021 to drive the development of a knowledge-based economy. To achieve the Vision, the Federal Government Strategy 2011 - 2013 has set out strategic directions, including the participation of UAE nationals and developing their capabilities; increasing efficiency, flexibility and productivity in the labour market; supporting small and medium enterprises; developing and promoting entrepreneurship; strengthening the regulatory framework of key sectors; encouraging and supporting existing and new sectors; promoting export development and promotion of the country’s position in international trade; and encouraging innovation and Research and Development.

The UAE Investment Map will provide an overview of the investment opportunities in each Emirate in health, agriculture, real estate, alternative energy, SMEs, services, industry, education, and finance, among others sectors. In the first phase, the initiative aims to target markets such as Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, Germany, India, China and South Korea.

The Map identified 14 areas for attracting investment, including aluminum industry, automotive, aviation, information technology, telecommunications, financial services, electronics, engineering and industrial technology, healthcare, petrochemical industry, education and knowledge industry, and the pharmaceutical industry.

During the past five years, the UAE attracted a total of AED 220 billion in Foreign Direct Investment. The UAE was ranked second in the Arab world and 27th in the world in competitiveness as per the Global Competitiveness Report 2011/2012.

The UAE is also among Top 30 nations for attracting FDI as per the UNCTAD World Investment Prospects Survey 2009-2011. The nation has had the highest growth in FDI flows in the Arab world over the past seven years and ranks among top 15 countries listed as the best destinations for foreign direct investment.

The FDI 2012 report issued by the Financial Times Group confirmed that the UAE had attracted the largest number of investment projects in the Middle East and Africa in 2011, while most active FDI companies based their activities in UAE.

The World Investment Report 2012 issued by UNCTAD stated that FDI inflows into UAE had increased by 40%, despite the apparent decrease in most Arab countries due to political unrest and the global recession, making the State the third-largest destination for FDI inflows to West Asia. FDI inflows to UAE reached $7.679 billion in 2011.

Federal budget

The Cabinet on 30 October 2012 passed the Union Budget for fiscal year 2013. Total revenues are estimated at AED 44.6 billion and expenditures at an equal amount, with no budgeted deficit. The first budget after the union was established in 1971 was just AED 201 million.

The Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said that health, education, social welfare of UAE citizens and the development of government services will be the top priorities of the UAE budget for 2013.

“This is in accordance with the vision of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to provide prosperity, security and decent life for citizens wherever they are,” he added.

Shaikh Mohammed noted that the budget is part of the three-year budget plan for 2011-2013 with a total expenditure of AED 133 billion. This seeks to meet the requirements of the Federal government’s strategic plan for all sectors and at enhancing various services and social care provided to the citizens within an integrated vision that extends to the year 2021.

The federal budget for 2013 is focused on the social development sector and on social benefits, with total allocations for them standing at AED 22.7 billion. Education took the largest single share of the budget, at AED 9.9 billion, representing 22 per cent of the total allocations. In the effort to complete the implementation of the country’s Education Development Strategy, the education budget has been increased to AED 6 billion to support development initiatives in government schools and to provide the required financial support for promotion of the teaching staff.

The amount earmarked for the social development sector and social welfare represented 51 per cent of the federal budget for 2013, with a total allocation of AED 22.7 billion. Public education, Higher Education, Health, Labour, Social affairs, Islamic Affairs, Culture, Youth and Community Development, the Shaikh Zayed Housing Programme and other social welfare programmes fall under this category.

The Governmental Affairs category, including defence, interior, justice, foreign affairs and other federal departments, accounted for 41pc of the federal budget with total allocations standing at AED 18.3 billion.

The budget allocated to the Ministry of Education is about AED 6billion, which constitutes 13.6 per cent of the total federal budget. The budget will help implement the ministry’s development plan through provision of the latest educational technologies.

The budget for Higher Education is AED 3.9 billion. It will be used for the development of higher education and scientific research, scholarships for Emirati students abroad and for construction of more buildings and premises at public universities and colleges.

The budget allocated to the Ministry of Social Affairs for year 2013 is AED 3 billion to ensure the provision of decent living standards for the beneficiaries of social aid, and to ease burdens on Emirati citizens.

Meanwhile, the budget allocated to the Ministry of Health is AED 3.4 billion. It will be used for provision of comprehensive health services to all citizens. It will also enable the ministry develop and set up medical centres and premises nationwide. The budget will also be used for furthering Emiratisation of jobs in the medical field.

The infrastructure has the lion’s share in the federal budget for the year 2013. The Federal Electricity and Water Authority’s budget is AED 5.2 billion to keep pace with rising demands for water and electricity services in the northern emirates. The budget will also fund the development projects in this sector, especially in the new residential areas.

Monetary and banking policies

An IMF report issued in May 2012 said the banking system maintains significant buffers to withstand a further deterioration in asset quality and external liquidity conditions. The banking sector, the report, indicated, was strengthened through significant capital injections.

“The UAE has been reaping the benefits of its early efforts to diversify the economy. Supported by accommodative monetary policy, banks remained amply liquid,” it added.

Figures issued by the UAE Central Bank showed that balance of payments saw an increase in the surplus on both the current account as well as the trade account from 2010 to 2011. The surplus in the trade balance increased from AED 179.9 billion in 2010 to AED 292.0 billion in 2011, with an increase in exports by the hydrocarbon sector by AED 135.8 billion; from AED 274.1 billion to AED 409.9 billion in 2011, and an increase in non-hydrocarbon exports by AED 40.6 billion, from AED 187.3 billion to AED 228.0 billion.

Meanwhile, re-exports increased by AED 73.7 billion, i.e., from AED 322.8 billion to AED 396.5 billion. As a result, total exports and re-exports increased by AED 250.1 billion during this period, while total imports increased by AED 138.0 billion.

As a result of these developments, the overall position of the balance of payments remained in surplus, reaching AED 16.6 billion in 2011. The balance sheet of the UAE Central Bank expanded in 2011 albeit at a moderate rate of 2.3%, in line with general economic activity.

The total assets increased from AED 228.9 billion at the end of 2010 to AED 234.3 billion at the end of 2011. This increase was mainly the result of an increase in Cash & Bank Balances from AED 6.9 billion to AED 30.2 billion and in Held-to-Maturity Foreign Bonds from AED 68.4 billion to AED 72.3 billion.

On the liabilities side, commercial banks’ Current Accounts and Deposits at the Central Bank increased from AED 68.6 billion at the end of 2010 to AED 83.3 billion at the end of 2011, while Currency Issued increased from AED 47.8 billion to AED 52.0 billion.

The number of locally incorporated commercial banks stood at 23 during 2011, while the number of their branches increased from 732 at the end of December 2010 to 768 at the end of December 2011. The number of GCC banks in 2011 remained unchanged at 6, while the number of foreign banks remained unchanged at 22. The number of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the UAE increased from 3,758 ATMs at the end of 2010 to 4,172 ATMs at the end of 2011.

The number of licensed foreign banks’ representative offices operating in the UAE reached 112 at the end of 2011. The UAE is also home to 24 finance companies, 22 financial investment companies and 12 money exchange houses.

The total value of issued currency notes of various denominations increased from AED 47.1 billion at the end of 2010 to AED 51.4 billion at the end of 2011. The total value of issued non-gold currency coins of various denominations increased from AED 665.7 million at the end of 2010 to AED 727.1 million at the end of 2011.

Industrial development

The industry sector has witnessed remarkable and steady development during the past years in terms of the number of establishments, the size of investments and the number of employees and workforce.

The creation of more industrial zones has facilitated the attraction of more quality foreign investment and strategic heavy industries.

The sector’s contribution to the GDP rose from just 1% in 1971 to 14 % in 2011 and is expected to rise to 25% in the coming years, boosted by massive strategic plans to diversify the economic and productive base and to reduce dependence on oil as a main source of income.

The number of industrial establishments rose to more than 2500 in 2011 with total investment worth AED 114 billion.

Emergence of advanced strategic industries have attracted highly sophisticated technical and technological investment in areas of energy, aviation, aluminum, glass, steel, pharmaceuticals and base mineral industries.

The Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Highness General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan inaugurated in April 2011 the Emirates Aluminum (EMAL) smelter project at Al Taweelah in Abu Dhabi.

The new venture sees Dubai Aluminum Company (DUBAL) collaborating with Mubadala Development Company on the groundbreaking project.

The $6 billion joint-venture between Dubal and Mubadala Development Co. was completed thanks to the country’s wise leadership and its clear vision, describing the project as a great national achievement. The UAE accounts for 47% of gross GCC investment in the aluminum industry, worth US$17.3 billion. The facility is expected to create around 2000 job vacancies, of which about 14% will be filled by UAE nationals.

Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad) is expected to play a major role in the development of the industrial sector. Combining world-class infrastructure, multimodal connectivity, including proximity to one of the world’s most advanced ports, and a wide range of features aimed to improve business efficiency such as vertically integrated industry clusters, Kizad will contribute significantly to the future prosperity of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. By the end of 2011, it had attracted 576 projects.

UAE: Key world supplier of renewables

As a seat of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a host of the annual World Future Energy Summit and patron of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, the UAE has consolidated its position as a key actor in the international renewable energy sector.

On 14 October 2012, the Foreign Minister, H. H. Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, received a letter from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who expressed his appreciation of the UAE’s efforts in sustainable development, renewable energy technology and combating climate change. The UN Secretary General also praised the Masdar initiatives and the vital role played by the Directorate of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in relevant international events.

Ban Ki Moon said in his letter that he was proud of the achievements made by the UAE and its commitment to enhancing the use of renewable energy and clean technologies.

The UAE is pumping billions of dollars into developing renewable energy and lessening dependence on the oil income. Abu Dhabi takes big steps to develop the energy sector, which is a strategic option to ensure sustainability of supplies during different development stages identified in the ambitious economic vision for the emirate by 2030.

All indicators refer to an increase in local demand for different energy sources in Abu Dhabi and the UAE in general, especially in electric power generation and water desalination, as a result of expansion in infrastructure and industrial facilities and other sectors. Abu Dhabi also seeks to better exploit available energy sources and resources, including Solar and Wind energy.

The choice of Abu Dhabi to be the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, is considered to be an international acknowledgement of Abu Dhabi’s position and efforts in this field. The UAE has invested about 7 billion dollars in 2008 in clean energy projects and plans to increase its investments to AED 183.7 billion ( 50 billion dollars) by 2015, according to the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi.

UAE also plans to increase the contribution of renewable energy sources to 7 per cent to satisfy its energy needs by 2020.

His Highness General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has said that under the wise leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE is committed to retaining its leading role as a main global energy provider through energy diversification in the renewable energy sector.

“Energy is a vital vein that nurtures all aspects of modern civilisation. In addressing the several challenges facing the world today, it is our responsibility to guarantee energy security and to exert every effort in developing clean technologies. It is our responsibility to take advantage of the various renewable natural sources of energy to achieve sustainable development,” Shaikh Mohammed said at the opening of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES).

He added: “Almost five years ago, we began our work in building capacity in the renewable energy sector. Today, we realise that this approach has gained increasing regional and global attention. We are continuously hearing of new solar or other renewable energy projects being launched, this is exactly what is required, a collaborative effort to achieve energy security. We are still working on achieving our plans to move in two parallel streams towards developing local and international projects.”

Masdar city

One of the most sustainable mixed-use developments on the planet, the $ 22 billion Masdar City is an emerging cleantech cluster that offers a creative and entrepreneurial atmosphere where businesses can thrive and innovation can flourish, in part because the city itself serves as a model of what green urban development can be.

This is especially the case because Masdar City is being designed and operated to provide the highest quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint – all in a manner that is commercially viable.

It is a community where cutting-edge cleantech research and development, pilot projects, technology and materials testing, and construction on some of the world’s most sustainable buildings are all ongoing. Making use of this open technology platform, Masdar City partners have an unmatched opportunity to develop, test and validate their technologies in a large scale, real-world environment

With six buildings completed, the 6 sq. km. Masdar City is already operational, with additional buildings coming online in by the end of 2012 that will triple its current size. At full build-out by 2025, the city is expected to have 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters.

Masdar has also completed 90% of Shams 1, one of the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) projects. As one of Masdar’s flagship projects, the AED 2.2 billion plant will directly contribute toward Abu Dhabi’s target of achieving seven percent renewable energy power generation capacity by the year 2020. Shams 1 is a milestone project for the region and will be a core contributor to Abu Dhabi’s long-term renewable energy objectives.

Shams 1 will extend over an area of 2.5 square km, with a capacity of approximately 100 MW and a solar field consisting of 768 parabolic trough collectors. Construction began during Q3 2010 and is expected to be completed in approximately two years. The signature solar power project will generate enough electricity to power 20,000 homes. Masdar has also developed projects in the United Kingdom and Spain, while also investing in clean-technology companies across North America, Europe and Asia.

Solar Atlas

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the Abu Dhabi-headquartered International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and other collaboration partners have jointly launched the UAE Solar Atlas.

The announcement was made on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Earth Summit 2012 that is being held from 20-22 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Six days of open-ended informal discussions were also held in the build-up to the Summit, including the third and final Preparatory Meeting.

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, UAE Special Envoy for Energy & Climate Change and CEO of Masdar, said: “The official launch of the UAE Solar Atlas comes at a time when investment in solar energy is witnessing an uptrend.

This multi-stakeholder initiative will help investors immensely to assess risks and commercial viability before implementing new solar energy projects. Masdar is proud to be part of this project that will provide further momentum to greater adoption of clean energy sources.”

Adnan Amin, Director-General of IRENA, said: “The official release of the UAE Solar Atlas at the Rio Summit signifies the remarkable commitment of the global partner organisations in bringing clean energy closer to the community. This Internet-based platform is designed to raise awareness of technology opportunities and serve as a repository for high quality renewable energy resource data, offering an avenue for those seeking to choose the solar energy route as part of their energy mix.”

Dr Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said “The commissioning of the Solar Atlas ensures renewable energy markets regularly receive reliable and stable data on the annual solar irradiance. Such data can prove extremely valuable for deploying various technologies including roof or land area for photovoltaic cells.

The MENA region offers abundant potential for tapping solar energy and we believe the UAE Solar Atlas, supported by the country’s leadership, will encourage other countries in the region to implement renewable energy projects in this part of the world.”

Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park

In Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has launched the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park project in January 2012. The AED 12-billion project, which will cover an area of 48 square kilometres, is part of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030.

The first stage of the project will be implemented through utilising photoelectrical plates to produce 12 MW of energy in 2013 with a total productivity of 1000 MW at the completion of the project in 2030.

The Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 has envisaged a plan for diversifying the energy sources in Dubai so that solar energy contributes 1% to the overall energy production for Dubai by 2020, increasing to 5% by 2030. This is in addition to generating 12% from nuclear power and 12% from clean coal. The remainder will come from gas.

RAK’s green power plan

In another energy milestone, the UAE’s first clean coal-fired power plant will be built in Ras Al Khaimah at a cost of AED 1.5 billion to meet fast-growing demand for electricity. Utico Middle East, a national company, has contracted Shanghai Electric, to commission the the world’s greenest coal-fired power plant. Supported by the Ras Al Khaimah government, the venture is expected to be completed in 2015 and will generate 270 MW of power when fully operational.

The project will utilise 100 per cent carbon capture technology as nominal design capacity and 80 per cent at operational point and this will involve the establishment of world-class power generation facilities and environment protection standards and related utility infrastructure.

UAE enters into the nuclear era

The UAE took the first step towards production of nuclear energy when the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) contracted in October 2012 a portfolio of leading international nuclear fuel suppliers to provide a series of nuclear fuel services to cover Enec’s requirements for the first 15 years of operations.

In 2009, the UAE awarded a South Korean consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) a AED 75 billion nuclear contract to build four nuclear reactors by 2020. The enriched uranium will be supplied to KEPCO Nuclear Fuels (KNF), which will manufacture the fuel assemblies for use in the four planned UAE units.

Starting in 2014 - 2015, a total of six leading companies (from US, South Korea, Canada, Russia and France) will participate in the ENEC fuel supply programme to provide natural uranium, concentrates, and conversion and enrichment services.

The contracted fuel, valued at approximately US$3 billion, will enable the Barakah plant to generate up to 450 million MWh for a period of 15 years starting in 2017, when the first nuclear energy unit is scheduled to begin providing electricity to the UAE.

The completion of the fuel supply strategy is a key achievement in Enec’s programme and a clear example of how the UAE continues to set the gold standard for implementing a peaceful nuclear energy program. These contracts will provide ENEC with long-term security of supply, high quality fuel and favorable pricing and commercial terms.

Enec is planning to build four 1,400-MW nuclear energy units at the approved site, Barakah, in the Western Region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. In July, ENEC received regulatory approval from both the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation for the construction of the first two nuclear energy units in Barakah.

Pending further regulatory approvals, the first unit is scheduled to begin delivering electricity to the grid in 2017. The remaining three units are scheduled to come on line in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission, which completed a 10-day International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review of the regulatory framework for nuclear safety and radiation protection in the UAE in December 2011, noted good practices in the UAE system and also made recommendations and suggestions for the nation’s nuclear regulatory authority, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).

“The team was impressed by the speed with which the UAE developed its regulatory framework and established a new regulatory body,” said IRRS Team Leader Carl-Magnus Larsson of Australia. The IRRS team highlighted several good practices of the UAE regulatory system, including, though not limited to, the following:

The UAE has developed a nuclear policy and subsequent activities related to the introduction of nuclear power within a relatively short timeframe. In developing its nuclear law, the UAE used the opportunity to merge five pre-existing regulatory bodies into one organisation, FANR, which has made extensive use of the IAEA Safety Standards to establish its regulations and guidance, and is using IAEA peer-review missions and services as a means to strengthen its nuclear safety framework.

FANR has also made good progress in developing an integrated management system, i.e. a systematic approach to running the organization as established in IAEA Safety Standards.

To ensure adoption of best practices, the UAE has signed bilateral agreements on peaceful nuclear co-operation with a number of countries including the US, UK, Japan, France, Canada and Australia.

UAE unveil two nuclear safety initiatives

Internationally, the UAE has also engaged in nuclear -related activities.His Highness General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, led the UAE’s delegation to the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Seoul, capital of South Korea, last March.

The UAE unveiled two initiatives via which it would support the objectives of the summit to respond to the threat of nuclear terrorism, to enhanced protection of nuclear materials and facilities and to prevent illegal trafficking of nuclear materials.

Shaikh Mohammed announced the UAE contribution of a million US dollars towards the expansion and enhancement of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Safeguards Analytical Laboratory (SAL) and the hosting in October 2013 of an international conference on strategies and techniques for maintaining continuous control of radioactive sources throughout their life cycle. Upgrading the SAL will allow the Agency to determine the origin of nuclear materials and to detect undeclared and illegal nuclear installations.

Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed called for international cooperation to help put in place the global infrastructure and human capacity needed to ensure the highest standards of nuclear security in all countries.

Oil and gas

The Oil and Gas industry in the UAE continues to represent the underlying foundations of the country’s economy, being exploited in such a way as to ensure that a share of these depleting resources are preserved for successive generations.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC, has allocated about AED260 billion (US $ 70.7 billion) for investment in the oil, gas and petrochemicals sector over the next decade. It also plans increase oil production to 3.5 million barrel a day by 2017 from to the current 2.8 billion barrels per day while daily gas production is projected to rise over the same period from 6 billion cubic feet to 7.5 billion cubic feet.

The UAE ranks the third in world oil reserves, about 98 billion barrels, while it ranks the fifth in terms of natural gas reserves, which amount to 6 trillion cubic feet.

Oil production levels are set in accordance with the production ceiling set by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, in line with a government policy of seeking to ensure sufficient supply to world markets and price stability.

On 15th July 2012, a new 1.8 million-barrel-per day crude oil pipeline from Habshan, at the heart of Abu Dhabi’s main onshore fields, to Fujairah was inaugurated by the UAE’s Minister of Energy, Mohammed bin Dhaen Al Hamili, with the first cargo of export crude through the pipeline, of 500,000 barrels, being loaded for shipment to a refinery in Pakistan.

The pipeline terminal at Fujairah has eight storage tanks, each with a capacity of one million barrels, linked to three offshore loading facilities.

With the inauguration of the pipeline, oil exports from Abu Dhabi can now by-pass the Straits of Hormuz at the mouth of the Arabian Gulf, with consequent benefits in terms of tanker sailing times and maritime security.

According to the third sustainability report, ‘Creating Sustainable Results with Positive Energy’, released by Dolphin Energy Limited, during 2012, the UAE passed the milestone of having produced an accumulated 3 trillion standard cubic feet.

Dolphin Energy itself began operations in 2007, transporting natural gas from Qatar’s offshore North Field by sub-sea pipeline to the UAE, for supply through an onshore pipeline network to the local market and Oman.

The overall investment by Dolphin in wells, pipelines, processing plants and receiving facilities has made this one of the largest energy-related ventures ever undertaken in the Middle East.

Another major company in the oil and gas sector is the International Petroleum Investment Company, IPIC, formed by the Abu Dhabi government in 1984, which is tasked with an ambitious mandate to invest in the energy and related sectors across the globe.

It now has stakes in more than 15 leading companies across the hydrocarbon value chain, including exploration and production, shipping and pipelines, downstream retail and marketing, petrochemicals, power and utilities as well as industrial services.

Space technology

The UAE boasts the largest space ventures sector in the entire Middle East and was elected in 2012 as a member of the 150-member International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (ITSO) Advisory Committee. With 21 members, the committee works to further the ITSO commitment to During the year, the Al Yah Satellite Communications Company, Yahsat, announced the successful launch of its second satellite, Y1B from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Weighing more than 6,000 kg, with a 15-year design lifetime, the satellite is equipped with a commercial multi-beam Ka-band payload, which will be used to provide a variety of government and commercial applications, including “YahClick”, a new reliable and affordable satellite broadband service for the Middle East, Africa, and South West Asia.

Yahsat now has partnerships across 28 countries within the region. These have been carefully selected to ensure that the “YahClick” service will be reliably and effectively marketed, installed and supported for customers. Yahsat is also working closely with key telecommunications providers to ensure comprehensive availability of the “YahClick” service to homes, schools and businesses throughout the region.

The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST), is a Dubai government entity that was established by law in 2006, as part of the UAE’s initiative to promote scientific innovation, with the emphasis on space technology and promoting sustainable development.

EIAST was established to promote advanced research and technological innovation, more specifically satellite technology; to build a well established internationally competitive base for human skills development; to position Dubai and the United Arab Emirates as a hub for space technology development internationally; to optimise the potential of EIAST satellite programs, DubaiSat-1 and DubaiSat-2; and lastly to provide support to decision makers in all sectors through application of its specialist skills.

DubaiSat-1 was an EIAST initiative to launch the first Earth observation satellite programme in the United Arab Emirates. The satellite was designed and developed by Satrec Initiative – a satellite manufacturing company in South Korea - along with a team of EIAST engineers. It was launched on July 29, 2009 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The DubaiSat-2 project is a joint development programme between EIAST and Satrec Initiative in which 20 engineers from the United Arab Emirates have been involved.

Aircraft Manufacturing

With Strata having been established by the Mubadala Development Company, wholly owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi, the UAE initiated its venture into the aircraft manufacturing industry.

Strata, a composite aerostructures manufacturing facility has partnerships with a number of leading aerospace companies to establish its manufacturing programme at a new plant in Al Ain (about two hours from Abu Dhabi).

Initial contracts, worth more than AED 4.8 billion (US$ 1.3 billion) have been signed, including Strata’s first direct work package from Airbus.

Another contract with Boeing, covering a ten year period, involves the production of commercial composite aerostructures for the 777 and 787 Dreamliner. Under the terms of a framework agreement signed in 2009 between Boeing and Mubadala Aerospace, the two companies are committed to develop mutually beneficial initiatives in areas where there is strategic alignment. Future partnership initiatives could include military maintenance and sustainment activities, as well as pilot training and people development.

Elsewhere in the aviation industry, Emirates airlines announced last year plans to construct a US $120 million (Dh441 million) engine repair and overhaul facility in Dubai in line with its growing fleet. The carrier signed a Letter of Intent with General Electric to oversee the design and construction of an in-house engine overhaul shop in order to make it “the most technologically-advanced engine overhaul shop in Asia”, Emirates said in a statement. The companies aims to service over 300 engines annually in the new centre.

Infrastructure

The UAE has been ranked first regionally and 11th globally in terms of the availability and quality of its transport infrastructure in the Global Enabling Trade Report 2012 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

With this ranking, the UAE outperforms countries such as the US, Finland and Belgium.

The UAE is among 17 countries that have 100 per cent of their road network paved. It is also globally ranked fourth in terms of the quality of air transport infrastructure, sixth in terms of the quality of seaport infrastructure and seventh in transshipment connectivity.

The WEF report highlights other strong areas of performance reflecting the UAE’s on-going commitment to trade, including, Border Administration (11th globally), Transport and Communications Infrastructure (18th globally), and Business Environment (12th internationally). The UAE tops the Middle East region in all these areas.

The Enabling Trade Index, published within the framework of the Global Competitiveness Network and the Supply Chain and Transportation Industry Partnership, was developed in consultation with key industry leaders, academics and international trade organisations measures the extent to which economies have developed institutions, policies and services facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to destinations.

It assesses four key areas of performance, namely market access, border administration, transport and telecommunications infrastructure and the business environment, and sub-indices within these broad areas. The index provides a yardstick of countries’ performance in creating enabling trade environments and pin-pointing where improvements are most needed.

A Study by Ventures Middle East published recently said that the UAE led other GCC countries in the volume of the infrastructure expenditure after opening the Dubai Metro Greenline. With Abu Dhabi’s USD 25 billion ground transportation project , the total value of projects for roads and bridges in the UAE is expected to reach USD 58 billion, representing 40 % of the total expenditure on infrastructure in the UAE.

Launch of one of the largest seaports in the world

The official launch of Khalifa Port, the most technically advanced port in the Middle East and North Africa is due to take place before the end of 2012. Test operations by the Abu Dhabi Ports Company began in September.

Khalifa Port is one of the key components in achieving the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 of a sustainable and diversified economy.

The Khalifa Port is adjacent to the KIZAD Industrial Zone, which offers local and international businesses efficient access to local, regional and international markets in a low operating cost environment designed to make doing business easy.

Combining world-class infrastructure, multimodal connectivity, including proximity to one of the world’s most advanced ports, and a wide range of features aimed to improve business efficiency such as vertically integrated industry clusters, KIZAD is expected to make a significant contribution to the future growth of Abu Dhabi and of the UAE as a whole.

Etihad Rail and Dubai Metro

Etihad Rail, the master developer and operator for the UAE’s national railway network established in 2009, recently issued invitations to tender for the first three contracts for phase two of the network. Construction is scheduled to begin early in 2013.

The invitations are for contracts covering the design and build of new lines between Ruwais and Ghweifat (137 kilometres), Liwa Junction and Al Ain (190km), as well as for the railway integration and systems contract, covering signalling, communications and commissioning, for phase two of the network.

Etihad Rail will eventually connect industrial and urban areas throughout the country and will be linked to other GCC countries through Al Ain, for Oman, and Ghweifat, for Saudi Arabia and other GCC states.

The Dubai Metro is a driverless, fully automated metro rail network in the city of Dubai. The Red Line and Green Line are operational, with three further lines planned. These first two lines run underground in the city centre and on elevated viaducts elsewhere. All trains and stations are air-conditioned with platform-edge doors. The Dubai Metro is the first urban train network in the Arabian Peninsula .

Airports and national carriers

The UAE has seven international airports, Al Ain airport, Dubai International Airport, Dubai World Central, at Jebel Ali, Fujairah airport, Ra’s al-Khaimah airport and Sharjah International Airport.

According to projections from the International Air Transport Association, IATA, the UAE, Kuwait and Jordan will be among the top 10 fastest growing countries in terms of handling airline passengers, with the UAE projected to rank seventh at the global level by 2014, when it is expected to handle over 82 million international passengers. The capacity of the UAE’s airports will be increased to handle 250 million passengers by 2020.

Dubai International alone is expected to spend Dh28 billion on capacity expansion, and the emirate is expected to handle about 98 million passengers by 2020.

Passenger numbers at Dubai International, the world’s fourth busiest hub for international passengers and cargo, exceeded the 4.5 million mark for the seventh time this year, according to the August traffic report by airport operator Dubai Airports.

In Abu Dhabi, August saw a robust 20% growth over last year’s figures with passenger traffic reaching 1.3 million. Cargo traffic was also on the rise reaching 46,376 tonnes, an increase of 16.4% compared to August 2011.

The traffic reports also showed a 16.7% growth in passenger traffic in the month of July 2012, with more than 1.35 million passengers passing through the airport - the highest monthly numbers in the airport’s history. Cargo traffic also reflected a parallel increase in July, reaching 50,371 tonnes.

The UAE has five national carriers, Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines, FlyDubai, RAK Airways and Air Arabia.

The fleet owned by UAE national airlines is expected to grow by 13 per cent annually to reach 728 aircraft by 2020, compared to 157 aircraft registered in 2007, according to projections made by the General Civil Aviation Authority, GCAA.

Aircraft movements, which were 590,000 in 2011, are predicted by the GCAA to rise by six per cent annually over the next few years, to reach 997,000 by 2020. The UAE has bilateral air transport agreements with 150 countries.

Khalifa Initiative for infrastructure development

The Committee following up the implementation of the President’s initiative to guarantee all citizens the means of decent life and to develop infrastructure in various regions has completed several major projects during the course of the last year.

These have included thousands of housing units, large networks of external and internal roads, hospitals and healthcare centres, dams, ports, rehabilitation centres, mosques, schools, vocational training centres and sanitation networks, for a total cost of around AED 16 billion.

IT and Communications Sector

The World Economic Forum placed the UAE first on the Arab level and 23rd on global level for the sixth consecutive year in the category of the Innovation-based Economy.

The UAE is investing heavily in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as part of an eTransformation initiative which authorities aim to implement at the federal level by 2014.

In the United Nations’ 2012 biennial e-Government Survey, the UAE is ranked among the emerging leaders group in e-Government development, ranking at 0.73 EGDI (e-Government Development Index), close behind the world’s top 20 leaders, topped by South Korea with a 0.92 score. The UAE has risen 21 positions in the global rankings to 28th place since 2010 and now holds 5th place in Asia, mainly due to increasing digital literacy.

Total e-commerce sales in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are estimated to be between US$3-US$3.5 billion (Dh11 billion). The UAE’s annual sales, only around an estimated US$2 billion in 2010, made up approximately 55-60 per cent of GCC e-commerce sales during the period, according to Visa.

According to the approved Federal Strategy 2014, the number of Emirates eGovernment services on offer will increase from 500 to 1,000 by the first half of 2013.

According to the latest statistics, around 56 per cent of premises in the UAE have been deployed with fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology by the end of 2011, compared to 30.89 per cent the previous year, placing the country in the second place globally, according to research by the FTTH Council Europe. South Korea, with 58 per cent of homes linked to FTTH networks, is in first place. In the last year, the UAE has overtaken Japan and Hong Kong.

No other Arab countries are placed in the top 30 globally.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was established by UAE Federal Law by Decree No. 3 of 2003. The TRA is responsible for the management of every aspect of the telecommunications and information technology industries in the UAE. Despite its relatively short life-span, TRA has exceeded expectations by achieving its projected goals in record time.

Another venture by the UAE in the field of telecommunications is Thuraya, an international mobile satellite services provider that delivers communications solutions in more than 170 countries across Europe, the Middle East, North, Central and East Africa, Asia and Australia.

Taking account of recent developments in information technology and in the development of ‘cyber-space’, a new law, Federal Legal Decree No. 5 for 2012, was issued late in the year. Including amendments to Federal Legal Decree No. 2 for 2006, it is focused on cyber-crimes, or crimes carried out using information technology or over the Internet.

Articles of the new decree provide legal protection of privacy of all information published online, including all data, information, credit card numbers, bank account numbers and details as well as all online and electronic payment methods.

The new decree stipulates punishments on any individual for using any kind of information technology to extort or to threaten others online to force them to engage in, or, for that matter, to prevent them from engaging in, a certain act.

Tourism and exhibitions

The UAE has made tremendous strides in terms of developing its travel and tourism industry and now ranks 30th in the list of 139 countries covered by the Competitiveness Report for Travel and Tourism, released by the World Economic Forum. It is the leading country in the Middle East region.

The National Council of Tourism and Antiquities is charged with liaising between the local tourism departments and authorities, to promote the UAE as a leading tourism hub and co-ordinate the efforts to preserve and maintain country’s antiquities. It also represents the country overseas.

According to the Ministry of Economy, the total contribution of tourism and aerospace to the national economy has reached to AED 150 billion, around 15% of the total GDP.

The UAE is ranked 4th in terms of tourist infrastructure in the region, particularly in terms of the airport and air transport sectors. UAE hotels have attracted over 14.5 million tourists from the GCC, Arab and other countries worldwide generating revenue of AED 22 billion.

The World Travel and Tourism Council has predicted that total investments in the Tourism and Travel sectors of UAE could reach AED 92.2 billion in the year 2013, a rise from AED 84.5 billion in 2012. The investments expected to rise to AED 101.4 billion in 2014 and AED 137.9 billion by 2022.

Among factors behind the UAE’s success in promoting tourism are its security and stability as well as its geographic location and moderate weather for six months of the year. The country also enjoys a safe and secure environment and a modern infrastructure providing high quality services for tourists and visitors at airports, ports, the roads network, in telecommunications and hotels and in terms of facilities for shopping.

Other attractions includes nearly 700 km. of beaches, over 500 hotels and resorts and a wide range of museums and sporting activities, such as golf and polo clubs, diving , fishing, horse racing, equestrian sports and sailing. International sporting events, such as the Formula One motor-race on Abu Dhabi’s Yas island and top tennis and gold tournaments also attract visitors in their thousands.

Other visitors are attracted by a wide range of international exhibitions, held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), the Dubai World Trade Centre and in other locations throughout the country’s seven emirates. Themes for the exhibitions range from defence and the environment to industry, health care and book publishing and much more.

Building on its status as a centre for exhibitions, Dubai is now bidding to be host for EXPO 2020, one of the world’s leading exhibition events. Around 25 million visitors are expected to attend, if Dubai’s bid is successful. It would be the first time that the event would have been held anywhere in a region encompassing the whole of Africa, the Middle East and the Indiabn sub-continent.

Ambitious strategy utmost priority for public services

Since the UAE was established in 1971, Government has paid particular care to the need to invest in the development of the country’s social sector, including education, health, housing, electricity, water, and infrastructure. In the 2013 UAE federal budget, approved on October 30th this year and amounting to a total of AED 44.6 billion, the top priority will be given to education, the social welfare of citizens and the development of government services. The objective is to deliver on the vision of the country’s President,

His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to provide welfare, security and a dignified life for all the citizens.

In a speech to the Cabinet outlining the budget, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, noted that the 2013 budget was part of a three-year cycle from 2011-2013 that would see a total expenditure of AED 133 billion to meet the requirements of the federal government strategic plan in all its sectors.

In the 2013 budget for the year 2013, AED 22.7 billion is earmarked for the social sector. Overall, allocations for social development, including government education, higher education, and health, labour, social and Islamic affairs, culture, youth, family development, the Shaikh Zayed Housing programme and other social welfare projects, account for 51 per cent of GDP. Of this, AED 3 billion is allocated for the Ministry of Social Affairs, which provides support for over 82,000 citizens.

Connecting education with knowledge

An amount of AED 6 billion is allocated to the Ministry of Education, which 13.6 % of the total Federal budget, in order to implement plans to develop the schools’ infrastructure and equip them with the latest technology.

The higher and university education budget is estimated to be AED 3.9 billion is set aside for higher and university education, including the costs of scholarships to study abroad and the building of new facilities in local universities and government colleges.

For the 2012-2013 academic year, the UAE has 1,276 schools, with 727,918 students at all levels, compared to 74 schools with 12,800 students in the 1971-72 academic year, which coincided with the establishment of the federation.

The main thrust of the Ministry of Education strategy for the years 2011-13 is to develop education by using the best international standards, which include an integrated system to employ the latest technologies.

In April 2012, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the “Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Smart Learning” in the country’s higher education sector. Implemented by a partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, and supervised by the Cabinet’s secretariat, it is expected to cost around AED 1 billion.

The higher education sector in the UAE began with the opening of the UAE Univesity in Al Ain in 1977. That institution has now been joined by nearly 70 other universities, colleges and institutes of higher education, in both the government and private sectors.

Prominent among them are Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Zayed University, the Higher Colleges of Technology, University of Abu Dhabi, Sorbonne University - Abu Dhabi, Sharjah University, American University of Sharjah, the American University in Dubai, Emirates College for Management and Information Technology, Fatima College of Health Sciences, British University in Dubai (BUiD), Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University (HBMeU) and University of Wollongong, Dubai.

 

A world class health service

.The UAE has sought to provide world-class health care since its inception, implementing major programmes for combating chronic and communicable diseases and for the provision of maternity and child care.

Specialised centres for open-heart surgery, organ transplants and cancer treatment have also been established. In 2011 alone, AED 36 billion was spent by the Ministry of Health, The Health Authority – Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Health Care Authority, with heavy investment also going into the private sector.

The UAE now has 92 hospitals and nearly 250 primary health care centres, as well as numerous polyclinics and smaller clinics. In 012 and 2013, four new government hospitals will open in Ajman, Ra’s al-Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm al–Qaiwain, as part of Ministry of Health plans, announced in 2011, to upgrade the sector which will cost AED 3.5 billion. 14 of these have now been completed.

Besides health care services, Government continues to invest heavily in the provision of housing for citizens. One new departure in this field, announced in 2011 by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council as part of the framework of the Abu Dhabi Strategy 2030, has been the introduction of a new style of housing based on the concept of integrated residential complexes where traditional ways of living can be preserved.

In April 2012, the Council announced plans to build 7,500 new villas for citizens in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region at a cost of AED 13 billion. When completed, this will bring the total number of villas being constructed for citizens in the UAE to more than 13,000 at a total cost of over AED 21 billion.

Abu Dhabi Municipality in November 2012 completed the delivery of 1000 villas for eligible citizens as the first phase of the Al Falah residential project, on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. It will eventually have 5000 villas.

His Highness General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in remarks on the occasion of the signing of several new construction contracts, said that the provision of suitable housing for Emiratis was a top priority in the country’s development plan, seeking to benefit citizens, to improve their standard of living and to make it possible for them to continue to work for the benefit of the nation.

Other initiatives to supply housing to citizens have come from the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, which in June 2011 approved more than AED 7 billion to fund new housing loans and in July 2011 approved payments of AED 2.221 billion to 1,496 beneficiaries.

A further AED 4 billion for loans for 1,000 citizens was approved by the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance in June 2012, while President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered the allocation of more than 7000 housing plots to citizens in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region during 2012.

In October 2006, the Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Establishment was set up in Dubai, with a capital of AED 12 billion. It is authorised to own land, to build, lease and rent properties and to manage housing loans as well as to design and carry out the construction of housing for citizens.

It has subsequently completed and delivered around 2,165 housing units in Al Warqaa, Musharraf, Hatta and Oud Al Mutainah. When the first phase of its activities is completed, it is expected to have built around 10,000 homes.

A similar process is under way in other emirates.

In Sharjah, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah H.H Shaikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi has allocated allocating residential and investment land to about 16,000 citizens during 2012.

H.H Shaikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu’alla, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Umm al Qaiwain, has approved plans to construct an integrated residential city which includes more than 1000 housing units.

In Fujairah, the Supreme Council member and Ruler, H.H Shaikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi has ordered the allocation of 803 new housing plots for citizens in 12 areas of the emirate.

Tremendous achievements in the electricity and water sector

In order to meet the growing needs for energy, driven by population growth and industrial development, as well as seeking to plan for future sustainable growth, the UAE has undertaken a number of important initiatives in terms of renewable energies, including solar, hydrogen and wind. It has also embarked on a civil nuclear energy programme.

In 2007, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Masdar, was established, with an initial investment of AED 15 billion. It has now become a global hub for future energy research, something that has been acknowledged by the selection of Abu Dhabi as the headquarters of the UN-affiliated International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA.

Between 2011 and 2013, it is estimated that the UAE will invest a total of AED 125.8 billion in the energy and water sector, of which around AED 11 billion was allocated for 2011.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Water the demand for electricity in the country will rise from about 24,000 megawatts in 2011 to 40,000 megawatt in 2020, while the increase in water demand will be from 4.5 billion cubic meters in 2008 to about 9 billion cubic metre in 2030.

Departments handling the electricity and water sector in the country include the Federal Electricity and Water Authority, FEWA, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, ADWEA, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, DEWA , and the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, SEWA.

The Federal Electricity and Water Authority is currently implementing a number of vital projects to expand supplies of electricity and water in northern areas of the country. Due to be completed by the end of 2014, and being undertaken on the orders of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, they are expected to cost a total of around AED 10 billion.

Shaikh Khalifa also instructed ADWEA to supply FEWA with 1,300 megawatts of power to meet urgent needs in the northern part of the country.

ADWEA is investing around AED 4 billion in its distribution and transmission network in the northern area and has also funded, in collaboration with international power companies, two major water and electricity plants in Fujairah, costing AED 16 billion.

Fujairah Asia Power, which began operations in December 2010, is the largest of the projects, with a capacity of 2000 megawatts of electricity and 130 million gallon of water daily. Together, the ADWEA-related plants in Fujairah produce 2,850 megawatt of electricity and 230 million gallons of water a day.

Global and national achievements in environment protection

The UAE has won a global reputation for its achievements in terms of the conservation of the environment and wildlife. It has established a number of nature reserves, both terrestrial and marine, where endangered species like gazelles, dugongs and turtles flourish, while successful reintroduction programmes are under way for Arabian oryx, once extinct in the wild, and houbara a species of bustard.

Captive breeding programmes for falcons and other species have also been established whole the country’s environmental agencies are also supporting important scientific research at a global level.

The late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, a supporter of conservation long before it became fashionable, was a stout advocate of the need to ensure that the country’s development was undertaken in a sustainable manner, while nature and wildlife were protected. Among awards he received in recognition of his efforts were the Gold Panda Award of the World-Wide Fund for Nature, WWF, and the Champion of the Earth award of the United Nations Environment Programme.

The UAE is presently ranked 77th among 163 countries listed in the Environmental Performance index (EPI), a major improvement over its 2010 ranking of 152nd.

The Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, founded in 2008 by His Highness General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has proved to be a valuable new means of promoting conservation globally.

Since it was established, it has given support worth 25 million Euros to around 450 projects in nearly 100 countries. It also donated US $ 2.4 million in 2010 to The United Nations’ (UN) International Year of Biodiversity for protecting endangered species.

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), chaired by H.H Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, is in the process of developing an ‘Environmental Vision 2030’, with a focus on preserving marine life including the creation and management of protected areas to protect the country’s biodiversity.

Besides its role as an environmental regulatory authority for all development in Abu Dhabi, it is also undertaking important research and education initiatives, both in the UAE and overseas, as well as captive breeding and release programmes for endangered local species.

Amongst its projects, in association with the Abu Dhabi-financed International Fund for Houbara Conservation, has been the release of over 1,350 Asian houbara into the deserts of Abu Dhabi.

Also active in the field is the Shaikh Khalifa Houbara Breeding Centre in the UAE, founded in 2012, which produced 5,373 Asian Houbara during the year. Overall, over 13,000 Asian houbara were bred in the UAE in 2012, an important contribution to the long-term conservation of the species.

The Environment and Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah, EPAA, and its associate, the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, are also important contributors to conservation in the Emirates, The Centre has the best breeding collection of wildlife from Arabia to be found anywhere in the world.

UAE has remarkable media sector

The media industry in the United Arab Emirates has made major progress over the 41 years since the state was established. In recent years, the latest developments in telecommunications and information technology have been successfully introduced.

Regulation of the sector is undertaken by the National Media Council (NMC), which was created in 2006, following the dissolution of the former Ministry of Information and Culture. It is chaired by the country’s Foreign Minister, HH Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a former Minister of Information and Culture. One key task of the Council is to promote the role of Emirati citizens within the sector.

Speaking at the 20th International Public Relations Conference, held for the first time in the Middle East, on March 14, 2012, in Dubai, and sponsored by the National Media Council, Shaikh Abdullah, noted that “The UAE is endowed with an unparalleled viable media scene in terms of the Middle East region. We are proud of the prosperous public relations sector in the UAE.”

This was reflected, in part, by the holding of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2012, held under the patronage of His Highness General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in which around 400 specialists in the media industry participated.

The official Emirates News Agency, WAM, part of the NMC, provides authoritative coverage of local official news, which is distributed to local and foreign media electronically, and has recently launched its own social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

WAM has signed 32 cooperation agreements with international and regional news agencies and, broadcasting its news in three languages, now reaches recipients in the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa as well as throughout the Middle East region. It also has a television news service.

The NMC’s External Information Department produces publications and other media materials, in several languages, for distribution both inside and outside the UAE, and also provides facilities for foreign media visiting the Emirates.

Amongst other tasks of the National Media Council is the issuing of licences for media organisations and following up on media content and the registration of foreign media correspondents working in the country. It also supervises the import of newspapers, magazines and books from abroad.

In the UAE there are 15 local TV channels, 24 radio stations, nine daily Arabic newspapers and five daily English newspapers, as well as hundreds of weekly and monthly magazines and specialised periodicals. Local bodies catering to the needs of media personnel including the UAE Journalists Association and the Dubai Press Club.

Many more media organisations operate within the country’s four media free zones, either as independent television and radio channels or publications or as branch offices of international organisations. One of the most recently established is Sky News Arabia, which commenced broadcasting in Abu Dhabi in May 2012 and is estimated to reach around 50 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa.

The National Media Council is also responsible for the UAE’s participation in international EXPOS, these providing a valuable platform for the introduction of the country’s heritage and progress to audiences overseas. The most recent was held in Yeosu, South Korea, where the UAE pavilion won the silver medal in the top category of participants. A film produced for the Yeosu EXPO, ‘The Turtle’, promoting marine conservation, won two gold medals at international film festivals in Cannes, France and Dubai.

Previous UAE pavilions at international EXPOS have also been medal winners, in Shanghai in 2010 and in Zaragoza, Spain, in 2008, for example.

In October 2012, the NMC signed a contract to participate in EXPO 2015 in Milan, Italy, in which over 200 countries are expected to take part, while Dubai is now bidding to host the 2020 EXPO. If the bid is successful, it will be the first time an EXPO has been held anywhere in a huge region stretching from North Africa to India.

Cultural openness

As part of plans to develop the country as a regional centre for culture, art and heritage, the UAE has not only devoted considerable resources to these sectors locally but has also forged partnerships with other countries and leading international institutions.

One result of this has been the beginnings of the emergence of Sa’adiyat island, just east of Abu Dhabi as a cultural centre. Major exhibitions have already been held at Manarat Sa’adiyat, while among museums planned for the island’s Cultural District are the Zayed National Museum, the Louvre - Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim - Abu Dhabi, all designed by world-renowned prize-winning architects. The Louvre Museum is expected to open by 2015, followed by the Zayed National Museum by 2016 and the Guggenheim by 2017. Together, they will cover an area of around 87,000 square metres.

Dubai, too, has ambitious plans in the cultural field. In March 2012, the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, also Ruler of Dubai, announced the launch of the Dubai Art Museum and Opera Theatre projects. This complement other projects, such as the redevelopment of Dubai Creek as a heritage area, the launching of the Middle East Museum for Modern Art and the Dubai Cultural Village concept.

Sharjah, already renowned for its numerous museums, covering a variety of topics from archaeology to aviation, has recently added the Sharjah Museum for Islamic Civilisation. Its collections include over 5,000 items.

Overall, the UAE now has over 50 museums open to the public as well as many impressive private collections.

Human resources

Since its inception 41 years ago, the Union has made the development of its human resources a major priority, seeing these as being a driver of progress.

Over the last few years, with the country’s young people now enjoying an enviable level of education, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has launched a new phase of manpower development - that of encouraging the UAE’s citizens to participate more actively in the process of the country’s growth. Through such empowerment, whether in the economic, social or political fields, continued progress, on a sustainable basis, can be assured.

The latest, 2012, Human Development Report issued by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, places the UAE in 30th place globally and first in the Arab world, telling evidence of the way in which the UAE has advanced since it was established in 1971.

Among federal and local organisations working to promote wider participation by UAE citizens in the labour market, particularly in the private sector, are the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority, (TANMIA), Abu Dhabi’s Tawteen Council, the Emirates Nationals Development Programme (ENDP) in Dubai and the Department of Human Resources Development in Sharjah.

At the end of 2011, according to figures released by the National Statistics Centre, 61.9 per cent of all posts in the federal civil service, numbering 34,604 in all, were held by Emiratis, including all senior posts, while by the end of next year, the percentage is expected to rise to 74 per cent for 48 federal government ministries and agencies, according to predictions by Tanmia

In the private sector, expatriates still predominate, although there are a number of programmes that seek to increase the number of Emiratis taking up employment outside Government. For the expatriates, whose positive contribution to the development process remains essential, legislation has been introduced by the Ministry of Labour and others to ensure the provision of a working environment that meets international standards.

The country’s efforts in this regard, particularly in relation to lower level employees and the protection of the rights both of employees and employers, have received plaudits from bodies such as the International Labour Organisation,

Woman a main partner in development

Emirati women have made significant progress since the UAE was established in terms of their access to education and subsequent employment. Thanks to the political empowerment programme launched by the President, they are now occupying numerous senior posts, both in the private sector and in the executive, legislative and judiciary authorities. Four women are in the current Cabinet, the highest number in any Arab country, eight serve as members of the Federal National Council, representing 22 per cent of the total, four more serve as ambassadors abroad while other women work as judges, army officers, police officers, airline pilots and in many other occupations.

Thanks to the efforts of H. H. Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Emirati women are now recognised as an important component in human resources in the government sector. They occupy 66 per cent of government jobs, 30 per cent of them in decision-making positions. 15 per cent of Emirati women now work in specialised fields, such as medicine, teaching, pharmacology and nursing.

In the private sector, women now account for 27.5 per cent on employees in banking, while 13,000 women are estimated to be running a total of 20,000 private companies in a variety of fields.

In a statement on the occasion of the UAE’s 40th National Day, in 2011, the President noted that the doors are wide open for women to achieve yet more. “We have made the empowerment of women a basic national priority,” he said. Thanks to good planning, our women have made great progress. They enjoy their full rights, practice their activities without discrimination.”

Much of the burden of devising plans for the education and empowerment of women has been undertaken by the General Women’s Union, founded in 1975 as a result of an initiative by Shaikha Fatima, with full support from the late President, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The Union has also been a powerful advocate of legislation to protect the rights of women, children and the family, while it has also demonstrated its ability to represent the country’s women in the international arena, through its effective participation in bodies like the International Women’s Federation, the Arab Women Organisation and the Arab Family Organisation.

 

 

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