Understanding evolution of Emirati identity amid civilisational developments

The country, home to people from various backgrounds, is successfully managing the process of fostering a cohesive identity while respecting individual cultures.

By Dherar Belhoul Al Falasi

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Published: Mon 11 Dec 2023, 10:30 PM

Today, the UAE is a nation that integrates tradition and modernity as a result of its distinct history of civilisational changes that moulded the Emirati identity. The history of the UAE is a strategically driven journey that skilfully combines Bedouin traditions with a forward-thinking vision, cultural preservation, and economic advancement. For this reason, it is critical to recognise the significance of the Emirati Renaissance, which is a purposeful attempt to preserve the UAE's cultural legacy while promoting the nation's presence on the global stage.

Since 1971, the Emirati political system has been managing the mission of creating a workable bureaucratic apparatus while forming the country's identity under the guidance of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The development of the Emirati identity has been predominantly driven by strategic leadership, with visionary leaders realizing early on that sustained growth necessitated a careful balance between tradition and innovation. While an oil-based model guided the UAE's state-building process for decades, the UAE now operates in a more complex environment. The Emirati agenda is evolving due to the growing youth population, the need for sustainability, and shifts in the global economy.

The UAE leadership, however, has expertly balanced traditions and innovations, ensuring a strategic response to emerging challenges. The country, home to people from various backgrounds, is successfully managing the process of fostering a cohesive identity while respecting individual cultures. The UAE's laws and regulations also act as a guiding force, actively preserving the country's rich cultural legacy amidst rapid developments. This legislative structure reflects the strategic objective of striking a balance between development and the preservation of Emirati traditions.

A significant change in investment opportunities has also occurred to establish the UAE as a global hub of commerce. The UAE's commitment to flexibility and openness is exemplified by the country's latest legal changes for visas, investments, and job opportunities. Though these advancements propel the nation's expansion, the third generation of Emirati youth stands to gain significantly from this as they find themselves amid rapid global changes.

It is imperative to comprehend that during this time of profound shifts in civilisation, the focus extends beyond infrastructure development. The development of iconic landmarks such as the Museum of the Future represents more than just architectural prowess, as it indicates a strategic intent to position the UAE as a hub for innovation and progress while highlighting the country's commitment to remaining true to its roots.

Similarly, strategic education, community development, and nation-building initiatives demonstrate the government's commitment to long-term progress.

Notably, the 'Emirati National Identity Ambassadors Programme' stands out as a pivotal initiative aimed at accomplishing this goal, strategically designed to nurture a profound sense of national pride and responsibility among the nation's youth. This programme, which aligns with the larger goal of strategic human capital development, equips the younger generation to manage the intricacies of their evolving identities while safeguarding the cultural legacy that makes them unique.

(Dherar Belhoul Al Falasi, Executive Director of Watani Al Emarat Foundation)


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