And so, we draw the curtain on 2017, a year that now enters the tomes of history and the passage of times. It was a year that challenged and confounded, surprised and amused, made us laugh and cry, celebrate the best in our humanity and the worst of our traits.
On the international stage, we witnessed Donald Trump take the helm at the White House, arriving in a flurry of expectations and blur of facts and fake news.
The new president of America was true to his word, signing executive orders to impose a ban on travellers to the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries.
In different guises, these are bans that have failed the litmus tests of legal scrutiny and moral dignity. His attempts to reform the affordable health-care provisions, laid down by his predecessor, have also failed to take hold. But President Trump has pulled his nation’s support for the deal that ended economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, and has also withdrawn his nation’s support for the Paris agreement on climate change. While he remains an ardent backer of the war on international terror, his failure to condemn racism and neo-fascists domestically has impugned his integrity.
But when it comes to the cause of Palestine, and the rights and injustices inflicted upon generations of people from that occupied land, Trump has failed to stand with a moral majority. His greatest misstep in 2017 was to declare occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, overturning decades of diplomatic convention, historical agreement and political realism.
Defeat of Daesh
This has been a year when Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has been defeated and routed from the lands it so brutally claimed as a ‘caliphate’, inflicting death, destruction, torture and pain on so many. It was a long a hard struggle to overcome these monsters, but right and justice have prevailed as Daesh was swept from Syria and Iraq.
It was a year that proved difficult too for our Arab brothers in Yemen, where Al Houthi rebels, aided, abetted and assisted by the regime in Tehran, continues to defy an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia and in which the UAE is proud to be playing a leading role.
That coalition is acting with the backing of United Nations Security Council resolutions and is determined that the year to come will see an end to hostilities and allow all Yemenis to build a safe a secure future together.
The regime in Iran, for all its talk of moderation, continued to spread sedition and violence, spreading its tentacles from Tehran to the Mediterranean, interfering across the Arabian Gulf, and giving aid to terrorists wherever it feels there is any opportunity to foster festering unrest. Unfortunately, our Arab brothers in Qatar prefer to turn a blind eye to such malicious intent.
For the broken Rohingya people of Myanmar, 2017 was a year that showed the full hypocrisy of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, a woman who was quick to speak for international support for Myanmar’s democracy, but is now mute and deaf to the cries of 655,000 Muslims forced from their homes and villages by the actions of police and security forces at her control. Throughout, the UAE has stood by the Rohingya, and those most in need at their hour of greatest need, whether through natural calamity or conflict and unrest.
A beacon of light
As the Year of Giving wrapped up across the UAE, Dh1.6 billion was raised by companies across the private sector as 270,000 workers volunteered, gave up their time and donated to humanitarian causes.
Across the Arab world, the UAE continued to be a guiding light and beacon of hope for many. Whether it be through the joy of reading, supporting those who would learn computer coding, bringing vaccines and medicines to combat diseases across Africa and Asia, the leadership of the UAE has been there to help.
These past 12 months have seen the UAE continue to grow and prosper. And while there were challenges, the Leaders of the UAE, the Government and all those who wear the uniforms or serve our great nation, do so with a pride in knowing that all are making a difference.
This is nation that is willing to adapt and move from traditional economic certainties to diversify and innovate, create and moderate. Our leadership has embraced transparency and accountability, making sure it is fully prepared for the economic and societal challenges.
We live in a nation that has never failed to inspire or innovate. Whether it be reaching for Mars, exploring our lands and seas, or developing and adapting new technologies and innovations, the UAE is a unique and thriving nation. This is a young and vibrant land, where change is embraced and the future is to be cherished. And so too we welcome 2018.