The shining success Emirates Lunar Mission has accomplished a few days before the 51st UAE National Day exemplifies the roadmap of the nation’s next phase of a phenomenal growth saga.
Since its foundation in 1971, the future ready nation of 10 million people has emerged as one of the most techno- logically, economically, and socially ad- vanced nations on the planet, and going forward, the Emirates’ Centennial Strat- egy will see it becoming the ‘Best Country’ in the world across several spheres.
Over the past 51 years, the UAE has brilliantly accomplished all its ambitious goals by ranking first worldwide across several indicators. The number of global indices topped by the UAE rose to 156 indicators in 2022 from 121 in 2021. The country is now ranked among the top 10 in 432 global indicators, compared to 314 pre-pandemic. The UAE is also the first in the world in terms of security and safety, infrastructure, flexibility of regulations, and more.
The blueprint of the Centennial Plan 2071, based on a crucial keynote lecture given by President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, envisages a clear map for the long-term government strategy to fortify the country's reputation and its soft power.
UAE CENTENNIAL 2071
Launching the Centennial Plan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, has said it would lay the foundation for the future of the UAE. “Our objective is for future generations in the UAE to live happier lives in a thriving environment with abundant opportunity, more con- nectivity and global influence.” It envisages a five-decade growth strategy to provide the government a clear roadmap for long-term development.
The visionary strategy, focuses primarily on investing in UAE youth, encompasses a national strategy to strengthen the country’s reputation and soft power; ensure that government revenue is diversified, relying less on oil; introduce education programmes focused on advanced Information technology and engineering and consistently build Emirati values and ethics for future generations. Enhancing the productivity of the national economy and enhancing community cohesion are also important aspects of the project.
“We must plant the seeds today for future generations to grow and prosper tomorrow. The world is rapidly changing, and we must equip our youth with the new tools, knowledge and skills needed to thrive in an ever-evolving environment. Establishing a long-term strategy based on a vision for happy future generations will guarantee sustain- able development and lasting joy for decades in our country,” he said.
The UAE Centennial 2071 aims to prepare young Emiratis for the future to ensure prosperity, growth and the continuity of the UAE’s values. This will create security and happiness, allowing future generations to excel and contribute to achieving the aspirational goal to be the best country in the world. The Mars 2117 project, conceived in line with the Emirates Mars Mission of 2021 and the Lunar Mission of 2022, is yet another futuristic goal envisaged for the next century when the UAE aims to establish the first inhabitable human settlement in Mars by 2117. As Sheikh Mohammed has said, the project is “a seed that the UAE plants today and expects future generations to reap the benefits, driven by its passion to learn to unveil a new knowledge”.
The Vice-President has issued directives to Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre to lead the Mars 2117 project and prepare a 100-year plan for its implementation. As per his directives, the centre’s plan will focus on preparing specialised national cadres and developing their capabilities in the fields of space science, research, artificial intelligence, robotics and advanced space technologies. The UAE is among the top nine countries in the world that invest in the space sciences.
HAPPINESS IN SOCIETY
Other objectives of the government under UAE Centennial 2071 include achieving happiness in society and spreading positive messages internally and to the world, developing mechanisms for monitoring long-term variables in various sectors and measuring their impact on future generations, and establishing Youth Advisory Councils to consider young citizens’ perspectives when establishing development policies. Importantly, one key objective is to create an effective government mechanism to oversee the implementation and progress of UAE Centennial 2071.
FOCUS ON YOUTH
Regarding education, UAE Centennial 2071 highlights the importance of excellent quality of education in ensuring future generations are ready to serve their communities and excel. Certain areas of focus in education include advanced sci- ence and technology, space science, engineering, innovation and health sciences. Also included is the importance of teaching students to look ahead and instilling a culture of openness by teaching history, culture, the civilisations of other countries and teaching new languages such as Japanese, Chinese and Korean. Other educational measures include teaching students mechanisms for discovering their individual talents early. On the institutional level, educational institutions are encouraged to innovate and transform to become international research centres, strengthening the system of continuous learning and ensuring the presence of UAE universities on lists of the best universities in the world to attract globally diversified students, academics and researchers.
The Arab world’s second largest economy seeks to establish a vibrant diversified economy by, among other things, increasing the productivity of the national econ- omy, supporting national companies so they may become competitive on the global stage and investing in research and development in promising sectors. The objective is to establish an economy based on innovation, leadership and ad- vanced industries, developing a national economic and industrial strategy that en- visions future sectors and places the UAE among the world’s major economies. In this regard, another objective is to nurture a generation of Emirati inventors and scientists, supporting their contributions, and exporting advanced national prod- ucts and services to the world through specialised incentive programmes, and supporting the growth of UAE’s leading companies globally.
In 2022, the UAE’s economic growth will be robust, led by a strong rebound in tourism, construction, and activity related to the Expo 2020 Dubai, as well as higher oil production in line with the Opec+ production agreements, the International Monetary Fund has said. Overall, GDP growth is projected to reach above six per cent in 2022, higher than the previous forecast, and record- ing a remarkable increase from a 3.8 per cent surge in 2021, the IMF said after its team held discussions with the UAE authorities for the 2022 Article IV Consultation from November 2 to 17, 2022.
FREE TRADE PACTS
In the first year of the next half century journey, the UAE entered into free trade agreements with several countries, including the landmark Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India. The Abraham Peace Accord with Israel, the bilateral agreement with Turkey; the most extensive legal reforms in the country’s history unveiled recently; the game-changing 100 per cent business ownership law for foreign investors; the Hope Probe’s break- through Mars expedition, on-going sweeping digital drive, the 4IR programme and a series of other technology and innovation initiatives; the10-year golden residency rule and other residency law reforms for expatriates; ease- of- doing business measures; competitive business environment, superb start-up ecosystem and a world-class infrastructure are among the remarkable feats that will have far-reaching ramifications on the UAE’s next phase of journey.
In 2020, the UAE rolled out a land- mark foreign direct investment law and entered a strategic inflection point in its efforts to become the most sought-after destination for global investors by allowing foreign investors 100 per cent ownership in 122 categories of business. As per the revised FDI regime, several categories of business licences no longer require Emiratis as sponsors with 51 per cent shareholding rights. With rolling out of the landmark foreign direct investment law from December 1 2020, In 2022, the country’s foreign trade exceeded Dh1 trillion, compared to Dh840 billion pre- pandemic and this year’s economic growth exceeded 22 per cent. The tourism sector’s revenues surpassed Dh19 billion in the first half of 2022. The total number of hotel guests reached 12 million, achieving 42 per cent growth in the year in the first half of 2022. For the next 49 years until the UAE’s Centennial in 2071, the UAE has chalked out a comprehensive development plan. The 50-year Development Plan envisions building on the legacy of the founding fathers and the nation’s achievements over the past five decades, and seeks to propel the nation’s growth to further high trajectories.
Ranked as the first Arab country in the Future Readiness Index report, for the nation these ‘Principles of the 50’ and ‘Projects of the 50’ are part of its sustained efforts to promote future readiness. The 10 principles act as a roadmap for the future and focus on building the best and most dynamic economy in the world, investing in human capital, developing the educational system, recruiting talent and continuously building skills, as well as promoting digital, technical and scientific excellence of the UAE.