Dubai: Preparing the UAE economy for a post-oil world will be President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s enduring legacy for the country – and the wider GCC. It was under his stewardship from late 2004 that the economy shifted its gears from being a developing economy to one that is on the cusp of being a fully developed one.
Through this period, oil has averaged over $100 a barrel, reigned in the $80s, slipped under $50 and, during the year of COVID-19, dropped even further. All through this period, the UAE policymakers kept directing the company’s course to a time when oil would have less of a role in the economy’s growth trajectory. Whether it was the creation of Masdar, as the focal point of UAE’s renewable energy offensive, or setting clear milestones for a ‘net zero’ carbon roadmap by 2050, the UAE leadership had that clarity of thought and purpose. Through the difficult phases as well as the super-charged ones. If that meant pursuing blue/green hydrogen initiatives or building world-scale solar power plants, then the UAE went ahead with it.
With the economy poised to deliver a 4.2 per cent GDP growth this year – and oil’s current levels do help – UAE is in a position of strength, not just to compensate for pandemic disruptions of 2020 but meet the new and revised growth projections of the near future. And all through, the UAE leadership under Sheikh Khalifa kept firmly to that track. Not once slowing down even when oil prices were at $80 and well over would have afforded some flexibility.
"With his vision and commitment to developing a world-class sustainable environment and infrastructure, the UAE transformed into one of the world's leading destinations," said Sheikh Tariq Al Qassimi, Sharjah-based businessman. "We now have a diverse - and inclusive society - with advancements in education, world-class healthcare, and a forward-thinking government to help shape our future prosperity."
Sultan Butti bin Mejren, Director-General of Dubai Land Department said: "Today is a sad day for all the Arab and Islamic nations as we mourn the loss of our leader, Sheikh Khalifa’s memory and legacy will remain with us and the achievements he accomplished on the UAE's journey cemented its position at the regional and global levels."
"We will remain loyal to his path."
"Sheikh Khalifa was the main driver in the development and growth of the UAE from his days as Crown Prince to the late Sheikh Zayed, may God rest his soul, and then as Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE since 2004," said - Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Board Managing Director of Dana Gas. "Thanks to his leadership the UAE today is a beacon of stability, prosperity and tolerance as well as a pioneer in next-generation technology such as renewable energy, artificial intelligence, and agri-tech, even as it leads the oil and gas industry in a rapidly changing world."
Hesham Al Qassim, CEO of wasl Asset Management said: "We extend our deepest condolences to the Royal Family and the people of the UAE as they mourn the passing of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, who led the UAE to global prominence under his exemplary leadership, placing the prosperity of citizens and residents at the core of all he did by continuing the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan."
"May his soul rest in peace."
"Today, an inspiring leader passed away. The late His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan had pivotal contributions and milestones in the UAE’s history," said Younis Haji Al Khoori, Undersecretary at the UAE Ministry of Finance. "His continuous support contributed to advancing development in the government financial sector, and consolidating the country's position among the best countries in the world."
The country’s banking, financial services and stock markets are emerging from the pandemic slowdown. Abu Dhabi continues to hit the markets with a steady stream of blue-chip IPOs and pushing the market cap to Dh1.74 trillion. Its mega-bank FAB has clocked assets in the Dh1 trillion range and has steadily extended its geographical footprint. Abu Dhabi’s investment giants Mubadala, ADQ and Alpha Dhabi did the same, with the UK, Egypt, India, Turkey, Pakistan, and recently, Greece, securing those high-visibility investments.
"Shiekh Khalifa’s legacy will always be remembered as he transformed the UAE into a country with a dynamic engine of economic growth," said - Walid Al Hashimi, CEO of Sharjah Holding. "The strategic plans he laid out enabled the country to become a diversified, investor-centric, and innovation-driven economy"
"Sheikh Khalifa contributed significantly to the progress of the nation, driving the UAE’s economic and energy sector diversification, and upholding the highest values of sustainability," said - Saif Humaid Al Falasi, Group CEO at ENOC. "The wisdom, kindness, and benevolence of the great leader are his rich legacy that every UAE national and resident will affectionately remember."
"Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed leaves a powerful lasting legacy for us all, including by spearheading transformative policies that propelled the UAE's economy and numerous industries onto global markets," said - Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises. "His Highness' long-term and truly strategic vision and leadership with compassion has empowered our beloved nation's economy and society to become a role model for the region and the world, and a beacon of hope and inspiration for future generations to come."
"Sheikh Khalifa was the driving force behind cultivating a culture of innovation and championing digitization throughout the Arab world," said Dr. Khalid Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Media City. "He continually aspired to find new ways to be applied and adopted by commerce, industry and the economy - to benefit all."
"With heavy hearts we bid farewell to a great leader, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE," said - Judge Dr. Ebtessam Ali Al Badwawi, Director-General of Dubai Judicial Institute. "On behalf of Dubai Judicial Institute, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the Al Nahyan family and to the people of the UAE."
"May his soul rest in eternal peace."
"A leader who inspired us all - and in turn made the UAE an inspiration for the world," said Saeed Al Fahim of Stratum. "Sheikh Khalifa taught us not only the principles of welcoming the world, but also how to achieve our dreams, instilling pride and hope for future generations."
"Today, we lost a great leader and pioneer who dedicated his life to the advancement of this great nation," said Hala Badri, Director-General of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. "With deep sorrow, I extend on my behalf and on behalf of Dubai Culture my sincere condolences to Sheikh Khalifa’s family, our wise leadership and the people of UAE."
"May God bless his soul, and may he rest in peace."