UAE National Day flag 50 years
The passing of the baton in the UAE reinforces the country's historic roles as a model for economic development - and how that be used for greater good. Image Credit: Gulf News

When we learned about the passing of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, our thoughts immediately pivoted to the remarkable achievements made by this great leader together with some of his honourable stances, especially when he was seen donating blood to support injured Arabs during the October 1973 war.

It was Khalifa bin Zayed, who stepped forward to support the donation campaign not only with money but also with all other forms of support. That photo of the blood donation also illustrates the sacrifices made by the people of the UAE in times of need, including during the liberation of Kuwait and for the sake of protecting Yemen and the Gulf region.

His stances mirrored the personality of the country’s then next leader, which was reaffirmed after he took on the Presidency. The late Sheikh Khalifa shouldered the responsibility, which was passed on to him by the country’s founder, with sincerity and dedication. Economically, the UAE’s GDP tripled in size to $400 billion, securing an advanced spot not just regionally, which resulted in a structural change within the national economy whereby non-oil sectors constituted 70 per cent.

Hub to the world

It is not surprising the UAE turned into a global transportation, communications and financial hub over and above being a regional trade hub. It has emerged as the regionl capital for humanitarian work and the world’s first nodal point for humanitarian food and medical supplies, which has and is still saving the lives of millions exposed to disasters, wars and famines.

The late Sheikh Khalifa led the country’s empowerment on the global stage with the support of his Crown Prince and brothers, the rulers of the Emirates, who backed him every step of the way to transform the UAE into a diversified and dynamic economy, making it one of the world’s most successful development models. This has reflected positively on the lives and living standards of Emiratis and residents. The per capita income doubled and is now among the highest in the world, surpassing those in much larger and powerful economies.

Sheikh Khalifa followed in the footsteps of Sheikh Zayed in extending development and humanitarian support to all peoples, regardless of their origins, affiliations and religions. Under his leadership, the UAE carried out hundreds of projects overseas and leading to an exceptional programme against halting the spread of polio in the world, which saved millions of children from disability.

Essence of the Man

We felt his kindness, humility, simplicity, and welcoming nature to young and old people alike, and which created psychological comfort for those meeting him. It is not a coincidence that the UAE, Gulf and Arab people are said at the loss of Sheikh Khalifa, who left a legacy for a country that’s determined to follow the same path but with greater ambitions for the next 50 years.

The country’s baton passes on to President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who the country’s people believe will be an inspiring leader who will push the UAE towards a knowledge-based economy built on the highest technology platforms.

This means the UAE will reach new heights to be one of the 20 largest economies in the world. Sheikh Mohamed will help boost the UAE’s economic leverage and geopolitical standing, which means that its people will be in for greater prosperity, happiness and security in a country that always strives to deliver the best.