The UAE National Day is a special occasion and filled with pride for the many achievements the nation has seen through. It embodies countless sublime meanings and echoes the unequalled efforts made by those to establish a country that now straddles the global economic and political stage.
The UAE is the only federally structured Arab country to safely reach its destination and continues to flourish — all thanks to the establishment of solid foundations by the founding fathers under the leadership of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
With 45 years having passed since the creation of the Union, we recall all achievements and milestones made by the UAE, most notably the improvement in living standards, which have tripled over the course of a decade and a half, making the per capita wealth one of the highest in the world at an average of $151,000 (Dh554,170) in 2015 compared with $53,000 in 2000. This is as per the Credit Suisse Investment Foundation (CSA).
Politically, the UAE has gained a solid reputation regionally and internationally and its leaders and its peoples have earned unprecedented respect. At the military level, the UAE has become a leading country in the region thanks to the great advancements its armed forces have accomplished and the modern techniques employed have proved effective on many occasions, most notably in Yemen as witnessed by many global experts who lauded the armed forces’ performance.
The UAE has dedicated a Commemoration Day, which coincides with the National Day, in recognition of the deeds made by the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the sake of country. It also built a special memorial dubbed “Wahat Al Karama” (Oasis of Dignity) to glorify martyrs and make them an example in defending the country and maintaining its achievements.
Economically, the UAE’s development experiment has become a role model for emerging countries trying to follow in the same footsteps, and reflects credit on those who helped establish such a powerhouse economy, which transformed it from an oil-based model to being the second largest diversified economy in the Arab world.
Interestingly, oil’s share in the UAE economy is declining by the year, and is at 30 per cent currently. This is part of its preparations for the post-oil era.
Consequently, gross domestic production (GDP) has increased significantly, posting Dh1.8 trillion ($490 billion) thanks to the diversification policy and irrespective of oil price fluctuations.
The non-oil economic sectors — especially manufacturing, financial and banking services, foreign trade, travel and tourism — contribute 70 per cent of GDP, making the UAE a regional leader in diversity and prosperity. Such approaches are supported by data issued by local, regional and international agencies.
By each National Day, the UAE adds a new feather to its cap. This year, Abu Dhabi is finalising preparations for the first Arab nuclear reactors. By running these reactors by 2017, the UAE will embark upon the nuclear era in producing clean energy.
Earlier this year, Dubai inaugurated the Dubai Opera that reflects the UAE’s cultural sophistication, and Fujairah’s port witnessed remarkable developments that made it one of world’s most important facilities for bunkering ships and tankers. These significant achievements are just some realised by the Emirates.
The UAE, in its 45th National Day, is moving steadily towards achieving its Vision 2021, which will coincide with the golden jubilee of its inception. It is also pressing ahead towards bringing about its Vision 2030, which will take the country to greater heights in many fields including space science.
The UAE has dedicated tremendous efforts to employ innovations and creativeness in all fields, and that — not surprisingly — makes it number one regionally.
This means there will be a radical shift that ushers in a new structure that lives up to the UAE’s status in the 21st century.
Dr Mohammad Al Asoomi is a UAE economic expert and specialist in economic and social development in the UAE and the GCC countries.