The UAE economy today boasts a global identity and is reaping the fruits of a solid foundation laid out under the leadership of The President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Sheikh Khalifa’s leadership came into effect on November 3, 2004, and the economy has since been spiraling upwards. In 2004, the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP) hit Dh328.7 billion, a staggering nominal increase of nearly 19.7 per cent over the 2003 GDP of Dh274.8 billion.
According to latest figures, in 2021 the economy crossed international economic expectations by registering the highest rate in the region of Dh1.489 trillion. The UAE economy posted a strong start to the year and is forecast to expand by 6.2 per cent in 2022, despite lingering concerns about potential new Covid-19 variants. The pace of growth continues to pick up after the GDP rose by 3.8 per cent in 2021, surpassing pre-pandemic levels of 2019, according to a Majid Al Futtaim ‘State of the UAE Retail Economy’ Report.
Last year, the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding and emerged as a stronger, more developed, and more prosperous than ever before nation. The UAE has moved from an oil economy to a diversified economy, paving the way to futuristic industries that will disrupt the nation, allowing younger generations to explore the opportunities that the nation offers to contribute towards development and growth.
The UAE’s real GDP growth is projected to accelerate in 2022 and 2023, led by an expansion in domestic credit, current account surplus amidst high oil prices, and a growth in non-oil sectors. The UAE’s economic growth is projected to accelerate from 1.4 per cent in 2021 to 4.3 per cent in 2022 and 5.2 per cent next year, according to UBS’ latest report. The onset of the pandemic displayed the UAE’s ability to combat every challenge and to ensure the welfare of its citizens.
Recently, at World Government Summit 2022 held under the theme “Comprehensive Industrial Ecosystems: Driving National Growth”, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, affirmed that the UAE leadership, headed by the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, attaches critical importance to supporting citizens to benefit from the industrial development witnessed by the country, as well as from the upcoming ambitious industrial projects.
Sheikh Mansour said: “Ten years ago, the share of the industrial sector in the UAE’s GDP was approximately eight per cent... Today, this number has increased by just one per cent to nine per cent. This reflects the urgent and vital need to provide more support to the industrial sector and industrial projects. This is driving the UAE’s leadership to a sharp focus on the national industrial sector, its development and ambitious projects.”
The UAE is concentrating, during this stage, on developing its strategic partnerships in knowledge exchange and the transfer of early industrial technologies.
“The UAE is working to attract investments from Arab countries, GCC countries and all over the world. Adding that the UAE’s concentration on a series of pivotal industrial sectors, including food, medication and defence, is based on its strategic importance as main pillars of the national economy,” added Sheikh Mansour.
As the nation emerged from the pandemic’s impact, it witnessed a rebound and celebrated the global Expo 2020 Dubai which remains a national pride for every UAE resident. The UAE performs favourably in the “Doing Business” global ranking issued annually by the World Bank, according to a research report by Oxford Business Group.
The UAE was 16th out of 190 countries and territories in the 2020 edition, outperforming all other countries in the region by a considerable margin for the sixth year in a row. The next-highest-ranked country in the Middle East was Bahrain (43rd), followed by Saudi Arabia (62nd). The UAE was in the top 10 for three of the 10 factors that contribute to a country’s rating, ranking first for getting electricity, third for dealing with construction permits and ninth for enforcing contracts.
Abu Dhabi economy
The rich legacy of Sheikh Khalifa’s vision is now being transformed in Abu Dhabi, as it has significantly raised its economic profile both regionally and internationally, which has been home to the world’s sixth-largest proven oil reserves. The financial buffers have helped it diversify and yield steady non-oil revenue. This has largely taken the form of expanding domestic industries, from aviation to renewable energy, enabling the emirate to weather a prolonged period of reduced oil prices and fiscal austerity that has put pressure on growth.
Centered on the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a wide-ranging economic development strategy launched in 2008 to reduce dependence on oil and gas and foster a knowledge-based economy, the emirate has made important strides towards securing its growth plans amid global and regional risk, and ensuring wealth for future generations. Successive five-year plans within the framework of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 aim to assure the achievement of the emirate’s goals.
Economic Vision 2030
The emirate’s efforts to reduce its reliance on hydrocarbons were given a major impetus in 2008 with the publication of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 by the General Secretariat of the Executive Council, the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development, and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (then the Department of Planning and Economy).
To support Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 in 2016, a new five-year strategy known as the Abu Dhabi Plan was launched. This blueprint outlined shorter-term goals, including creating an effective private sector that provides business opportunities.
With these plans as a guide, the government intends to develop a diversified, sustainable economy that is integrated into global markets. Creating new sources of income and developing industries that are part of a knowledge-based economy are particular focal points, especially in high-value-added, non-oil sectors like tourism, manufacturing, logistics, health care, education, financial services and telecoms. While working to reach all of the emirate’s goals requires a concerted effort by both private and public entities, private sector funding and foreign direct investment will continue to play an important role in this process as the main drivers of economic growth.
According to Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, non-hydrocarbons sectors of the economy, including petrochemicals, are projected to account for 64 per cent of the emirate’s GDP by 2030, while oil and gas activities would contribute the remaining 36 per cent.
The emirate of Abu Dhabi is part of the UAE, the GCC’s second-largest economy and 30th largest in the world. The UAE possesses the world’s sixth-largest proven oil reserves, but has worked hard to diversify its economy away from a reliance on hydrocarbons: at the federal level, the non-oil sector accounts for around 75 per cent of nominal GDP. Abu Dhabi is a major contributor to the UAE’s GDP, accounting for some 60 per cent.
Ghadan 21 is a Dh50 billion ($13.6 billion) economic accelerator programme that was launched in 2018 and will be implemented until 2021. The strategy features a diverse array of initiatives focused around four main pillars: business and investment; society; knowledge and innovation; and lifestyle.
Ghadan 21, or Tomorrow 21, is Abu Dhabi’s Dh50 billion ($13.6 billion) economic accelerator programme and one of the most ambitious development strategies deployed by the emirate. Launched in September 2018, the programme represents the government of Abu Dhabi’s response to a series of external shocks, including geopolitical tensions, a low global growth scenario and a prolonged decline in oil prices that began in mid-2014.
The businesses are extremely bullish about the UAE economy outlook and are now working on new strategies as global businesses descend in the desert to expand operations.
Alain Bejjani, chief executive officer, Majid Al Futtaim - Holding, said: “The fundamentals are strong and the outlook for economic growth in 2022 remains positive. Although some headwinds around price pressures, rising interest rates, as well as continued supply chain disruptions, can be expected through this year and next, both the retail and UAE economy are expected to build on a strong start to 2022 and propelled by increased spending and a growing influx of visitors and investors from overseas. The government’s plans, including its sustainable development vision, have put the country on a path of sustained economic growth and enhanced wellbeing for residents and visitors alike.”
Faizal Kottikollon, chairman, KEF Holdings
The departure of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has been a vital driving force of the UAE's all round development since the nation's foundation, leaves a huge vacuum. Through his priceless contributions to the nation as a wise and benevolent leader and also as a seasoned statesman he will live forever in our memories.
Massimo Falcioni, CEO of ECI
The great legacy of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in achieving socio-economic progress in domestic, regional and international stages will remain an exemplary success model for the global political and business community.
Dr Ram Buxani, Chairman, ITL Cosmos Grou
Role of Sheikh Khalifa will always be remembered in achieving the milestones in relations between India and UAE. Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed between two nations on 18th February, 2022 is something which will always be remembered in the annals of history and will boost the economy of both countries and create substantial job opportunities.
Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of VPS Healthcare Group
Deeply saddened by the passing away of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. His demise is a great loss to the nation. The people of the UAE will fondly remember his immense contributions forever.
Dr Jamil Ahmed Managing Director Prime Healthcare Group
The entire nation mourns this loss. May the next generation of UAE’s capable leaders , take on the baton and work towards forwarding his legacy and giving shape to his vision and dreams .”
Kamal Vachani, Group Director, and Partner at Al Maya Group
With great sorrow, I learnt the news of the death of President Khalifa. I extend my sincerest condolences to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and the Al Nahyan family. Sheikh Khalifa was known for being a good listener, modest, and deeply interested in the affairs of his people. The President was a much-loved figure in the UAE and the region. Sad to hear about the loss of our great leader President Khalifa. I express my sincere sympathy to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Al Nahyan family. The loss of a leader like Sheikh Khalifa is something that can never be recovered.
Rizwan Sajan Chairman and Founder Danube Group
We at Danube Group pray that his soul rests in peace, he was a visionary and embraced sustainable development as a guiding methodology to build up a modern nation that derives its human, socio-economic, and cultural clout from robust constitutional, organizational and structural tenets.
Abdul Jebbar P.B., Group Managing Director, Hotpack Global
The UAE has suffered a great loss today with the passing of H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Throughout his tenure, he has been one of the most loyal and devoted leaders this country has seen, and his absence will be felt for a long time.
Ali Shabdar, MEA Regional Director, Zoho Corp
Today, the country and the world lost a kind and inspiring leader who carried on the legacy of Sheikh Zayed and left us with a great legacy of his own. We offer our sincere condolences to the great nation of UAE, the Royal Family, and everyone who loved and respected Sheikh Khalifa deeply. He will be greatly missed.
Dr. Mostafa Al Guezeri, Managing Director, Hitachi Energy
"This is unfortunate news as the nation mourns the death of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of UAE. This country has become a shining example of progress and innovation for the world, and it is all thanks to the wisdom and vision of its leader. The world mourns and our deepest condolences to the family, citizens, and expatriates of the UAE at this difficult time. "
Bharat Bhatia, CEO, Conares
"Today we lost an important pillar of the UAE society. H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, was an inspiration to all residents of this country and his courageous leadership took this country to unimaginable heights. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Zayed family, H.H Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai and the entire people of the UAE.”
Dr. Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman and Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare
“We are deeply saddened by the demise of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of UAE - He was a visionary leader who led the UAE to be one among the most prosperous Countries in the region. HH Sheikh Khalifa was a people’s person and his love for the people of his country , both the citizens and expatriates has been legendary. He was silently effective in creating an atmosphere of peace and harmony among the multiple nationalities living here.
Dr Thumbay Moideen, Founder President, Thumbay Group
“I am deeply saddened to hear the death of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The world has lost an exceptionally wise and respected leader who will be missed enormously. He will be remembered for his efforts for stability and peace in the Middle East. I offer my sincere condolences to the government of UAE and the ruling family of Abu Dhabi on this mournful day. May Allah grant him the highest rank in Jannah."
Dr. Yusuffali MA, Chairman Lulu Group
Like millions in UAE and elsewhere in the world, the sad news of passing away of our beloved HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has brought sudden gloom in my life. I vividly cherish those fond memories of Sheikh Khalifa’s love and affection towards me whenever I called upon the President in various palaces in UAE and abroad. Sheikh Khalifa was a true humanitarian and visionary who transformed UAE into one of the most developed, secure, safe, tolerant, and culturally rich countries in the world.The fact that more than 200 different nationalities call this great country as their home, earning their livelihood and living with most dignity and respect is a true testimony of the benevolence of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa.
Michael Brenden Davis, CEO, NMC Healthcare,
As this great nation mourns, allow me to present my deep and sincere condolences and sympathy in connection with the death of this truly global leader and the president of the UAE. I am only an ordinary American citizen, but nevertheless, I presume to convey my sympathy, since I am so deeply shaken by the tragic death of the distinguished compatriot, a good, wise, and great man.
P A Salman Ibrahim, Managing Director of PACE Group
Today we lost a leader, role model and a father figure. Our prayers and thoughts are with the family during this painful time. The country witnessed tremendous growth and prosperity under his leadership
Abdulla Al Nuaimi, CEO, Dubai National Insurance
Today is a sad day for our beloved nation to have lost a true visionary leader who dedicated his life to serving the people of United Arab Emirates. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was a global icon and role model for all of us in the UAE and the wider Arab world, and his passion for upliftment and enrichment of the people of UAE will live on as his legacy for generations to come. We are deeply saddened by the news and we pray that Allah grant him the highest heavens. May his noble soul rest in eternal peace
Malou Caluza, CEO, QNET
“Today, we bid farewell to one of the greatest visionaries this country has seen. We are forever grateful to H.H Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, for his devotion to this country. Under his reign, the UAE has witnessed an accelerated development that ensured decent living for the people calling the country home. His example will continue to inspire the people of this nation.”
Sunny Varkey, executive chairman of GEMS Education Group
This great nation has lost a great visionary leader, whose absence will be felt for years to come. Under the benevolent leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa the UAE had achieved remarkable progress and prosperity and emerged as one the fastest growing economies in the world.
KV Thomas, chairman of Thomsun Group, Dubai
As a key architect of UAE’s amazing economic and social transformation, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan had played a pivotal role in defining the growth journey of this vibrant nation over the past 50 years. He had made his remarkable imprint in the modern world for his statesmanship, farsightedness and benevolence.
Adeeb Ahamed, managing director of Lulu Financial Holdings:
In the passing away of our beloved H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the world has lost an inspiring statesman and people's ruler. Always an influential figure in global and regional matters, he presided over the UAE's transformation into a nation that belongs to the future with a firm footing in its founding values. He will forever be remembered and missed by all of us who call this great nation home.
Anis Sajan, vice-chairman of Danube Group
Deeply saddened by the passing of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The man responsible for the unification of the UAE and much of its early development. His legacy will stand as an example to all of us to persist in our pursuit of progress. He will be deeply missed.
Roshal Mascarenhas, co-founder and CMO, KREGZO
We are deeply shocked and saddened by the passing of the President of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. His vision and mission for the people of UAE will be in our hearts for a long, long time.
Taher Shams, MD, Zulekha Healthcare Group
The UAE is deeply saddened by the demise of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The lightning- speed progress this nation has witnessed over the last few years years reflects his strategic decision-making capabilities as a leader of the nation.”
Deepak Bhatia, managing director, Uncle’s Shop
Sheikh Khalifa will always be remembered for his major development initiatives of profound social impact, establishment of various social services and commercial buildings department, commonly known as ‘Sheikh Khalifa Committee’
Fiona Banister, Chair of Global Impact, Decarbonized.org
It is with great sadness we take a moment to honour an incredible innovator and visionary that has encouraged tremendous development for the UAE. During multiple visits for international alliance building, it has been our honour to be hosted by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. His inspirational legacy will continue to live forward. We are sending all his family and the people he has inspired and encouraged with his creativity, our gracious condolences and honor his dedication for impacting humanity.
Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Duaij bin Khalifa Al Khalifa
With great sadness, I extend my condolences to the people of the UAE. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is not only celebrated as being an outstanding President and Ruler, for having made the tremendous transformation of the country through modernisation programs but also recognised as a Visionary and Missionary Leader, a commanding example to all of us. We are blessed and proud to be part of UAE's sustainable, diversified, inclusive, high-value-added economy that encourages rich enterprise expansion integrated with global markets. We will strive to continue His Highness's blessed legacy for many generations to come.
Sheikh Abdullah Zaid Al-Meleihi, chairman of Al-Ramez International Group
The death of Sheikh Khalifa is a loss for the Arab world and the Gulf. We in Saudi Arabia consider the UAE our second country. We offer our condolences to the ruling family in the Emirates on the death of His Highness Sheikh.
Dr Adil Alzarooni, chief executive officer, Al Zarooni Emirates Investments.
Deeply saddened by the demise of our visionary leader, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The late President of the UAE was greatly admired as a person and a leader who introduced pathbreaking reforms. My deepest condolences to the Al Nahyan family and the people of the UAE.
Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal, Founder of Al Mur Investment LLC
We have been truly sadden with the loss of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Ruler of UAE, but we are so proud of what was achieved in his time, a huge transformation in the system that made UAE a global country, he managed to shift the government to be the number one in the world, he played a major role in UAE having a stable economy and that welcomes all people. Sheikha Khalifa gave the women to be presented in the national council and in his time we have seen the highest number of representation in ministerial position, an achievement to be proud of.
Sultan Ali Rashed Lootah, Chairman, MD, and co-founder of Vault Investments
Our father our leader and our nation builder is god hands . May Allah bless him in paradise. We lost a leader and a father and visionary leader ..no words can explain how we are sad today.
Sir Anthony Ritossa, chairman of Ritossa Family Office.
The UAE will continue to remain deeply guided by the rich legacy Sheikh Khalifa has embedded in the country’s core values. The nation today has attained a status of a global gateway that attracts international businesses boosting business sentiment.
Nandi Vardhan Mehta, CFO, KAAF Investments
This is end of an era. With his passing, world has lost one of the tallest leaders. He was the champion of tolerance and showed the world how progressive growth can be inclusive for all. In these difficult times he was beacon of hope. He would be dearly missed.It is an extremely sad moment for all of us.
Dr Dhananjay Datar, Chairman and MD, Al Adil Group
The passing away of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan leaves us all in great sorrow. He was a visionary leader and an inspiration for all of us. He was instrumental in the growth and development of UAE. A great humanitarian he was loved, admired and followed by everyone. This loss will leave a big void that will be difficult to fill.
Babak Ahmadzadeh, Director, Plug and Play Abu Dhabi
The Plug and Play Abu Dhabi Team and I deeply grieve and mourn the passing of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Most of us were born, raised and thrived under his great leadership. There are not enough words to express the gratitude and debt we feel for his leadership that gave us the special peace, opportunity and happiness that we cherish here in the UAE. Our hearts are with his family, the people of the UAE and so many around the world that will sorely miss his leadership and inspiring nature.
Bal Krishen, Chairman & CEO, Century Financial
"Sheikh Khalifa has supervised a massive transformation of both the Federal Administration and the government of Abu Dhabi since becoming president of the UAE. Under his leadership, the UAE has seen rapid growth, offering a fair standard of living for the people calling this county home. Sheikh Khalifa launched his first strategic plan for the UAE government with a focus on the well-being of UAE citizens and residents."
Hilmarie Hutchison, CEO, Matrix Public Relations
“We're saddened on learning of the passing on of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed. His decisions such as dedicating the year 2015, as the year of Innovation and further allocating over 300 billion for innovation through science and technology are proof of his vision and dedication to progress. His leadership has been instrumental to the growth of the nation's economy - an attribute that has positioned the UAE as the go-to business hub for international and homegrown businesses.”
Ola Lind, CSO Nasdaq Listed FTFT, CEO & Director FTFT Capital
“We are saddened by the passing on of the UAE President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan - a great visionary leader who led the nation and indeed the entire GCC region to greatness tirelessly. His vision is evident through his successful initiatives like Khalifa Excellence Award, Khalifa Award for Education, Debt Settlement Fund, and the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation. The framework he has put in place for blockchain and cryptocurrency in the emirate will have a far-reaching impact for years to come. His selfless contribution to the business sector has benefited entrepreneurs from all sectors of the economy, paving way for phenomenal growth.”
Ayush Gupta, CEO & Founder of AG Events
“President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan continued building on the vision of Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan and unfalteringly directed the UAE towards being one of the most respected nations weathering turbulent times and global economic turmoil."
Mohammed Shaheen, CEO, Seven Capitals
“The UAE has laid the foundation of more outstanding national achievements in all areas, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The great leader led this country with great wisdom and judiciously tapped the country's resources to achieve a top position when ranked globally. The nation’s great achievements, the peace and tranquillity the country enjoys today, were the fruit of the long and tedious march, hard work and perseverance led by the Sheikh Khalifa. Today we mourn the loss of a visionary leader who transformed and reformed the UAE into a prominent country in the world.”
Soham Chokshi, CEO and Co-Founder, Shipsy
“We've learned of the passing of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed with great sadness and regret. His leadership, vision and dedication towards Innovation, technology and many other areas have been instrumental to the growth of the nation's economy - an attribute that has positioned the UAE as the go-to business hub for international and homegrown businesses.”
Ayman Youssef, Vice-President, Coldwell Banker
We send our deepest condolences to the UAE Royal Family, citizens and residents of the nation, on the sad demise of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. Under his direction, the Executive Council witnessed the extensive development programmes in Abu Dhabi, including the construction of housing, water supply system, roads and general infrastructure that led to the emergence of the city of Abu Dhabi into the modern city that it is today. We are forever in the debt to such a charismatic and visionary leader.
Dhaval Jasani, Founder & CEO, ZTI Global Consulting
An epitome of leadership, a true visionary who endeavoured to ensue this blissful land continues to progress while achieving peace and harmony. He continued this journey of progress and nation building that His Highness Sheikh Zayed had envisioned. This loss is beyond words. We continue to pray The Almighty to grant peace and prosperity to this blissful land #UAE.
Sameer K Mohamed, Managing Director, Jaleel Holdings
"Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, will forever live on in the memories of every person that has been fortunate enough to witness his brilliant leadership. He was a true visionary that led this country to great heights and will go down in history as one of the greatest leaders the people of the UAE have ever seen. He has left behind a legacy of generosity and prosperity that will not be matched for a long time. His unparalleled leadership has guided the UAE towards countless opportunities and achievements that have made this country and its people a shining example of progress for the world.”
Mahendra Patel, chairman of GEAP International
As a pragmatic visionary, H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has left behind a legacy of all-round development for the nation. On the global stage, he made an indelible mark as a seasoned statesman and champion of peace and unity. As the President, he led the UAE's incredible transformation into a future-ready nation, which has become a global destination of choice for investors, professionals and tourists.
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