UAE’s Vigil for Peace

The UAE has been an oasis of peace, prosperity and security in a region that has seen more than its share of conflicts and violence. It’s not incidental.

Behind this inspiring model of progress and peace lies a legacy of farsighted leadership, pragmatism and tireless efforts.

If the nation is today a source of great pride — and envy — to the rest of the neighbourhood, the credit should largely go to the UAE leadership that has remained focused on gifting their people a future of peace, progress and stability.

While maintaining its neutrality and independence of policy, the UAE has developed robust and amicable relations with all the neighbours and leading members of the international community. This is why notwithstanding its size and limited human resources, the country has been playing an effective role on the world stage.

The emirates’ voice on the Middle East peace and the world at large is heard with respect and treated with seriousness in international forums and institutions. The nation remains steadfast in its commitment to peace. At the same time, it cannot remain oblivious to emerging security challenges and threats in the neighbourhood. As the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan argued on Saturday, peace always needs to be protected.

Ours is a peace-loving nation. However, all peace-loving nations need to have the means of their defence in place to protect and maintain their peace. The Middle East is already home to a nuclear weapons state (Israel). Add to this the military and nuclear ambitions of Iran and other countries in the neighbourhood.

Even though the UAE maintains excellent relations with all its neighbours including the Islamic republic, it makes sense to have a credible and effective integrated defence system in place to protect itself against challenges present and future. Situated as it is close to the opening of the Arabian Gulf, through which the bulk of the world’s crucial crude supply passes, the young nation cannot afford to be complacent about the hazards and implications of living in a strategic neighbourhood.

As President Shaikh Khalifa put it in his comments made on the eve of International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex 2009) in Abu Dhabi, the futuristic defence system is part of the country’s resolve to protect its “higher interests and sovereignty”.

However, being prepared for the future does not mean the country has any hostile agenda against any particular country. In fact, as Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum emphasised on the same occasion, peace and stability in the region are the main pillars of the UAE’s and GCC grouping’s policies. Vigil is the price you have to pay for peace.

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