Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News Archives

As the last hours of 2018 wind down, it were 12 months that gave us reason to laugh and cry, love and celebrate what binds rather than divides, what made news, and what made the UAE one of the best places in the world to call home. It was a year dedicated to honouring the memory and values of late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. As the founding father of this nation, he set the homeland on a course of unity, bringing the emirates together in common cause. Today, the UAE brings people together from some 200 nations, living in a society that promotes dignity and equality, health and education, the home and the homeland.

There’s a price to be shared for living in a nation that is proud to help others, that works with those in times of persecution, natural disaster, unrest or social disorder. As 2018 comes to a close, we remember those who gave their lives in the service of the UAE, honouring the last call of duty to a nation that shall be forever grateful in its remembrance.

The year was not without its challenges, but the leadership, government and officials at every level worked together to ensure that the UAE continued to improve in delivering meaningful services to all its people, harnessing the power of technologies and adapting innovative solutions to keep the nation focused on embracing the future and cherishing its past. The introduction of value added tax (VAT) set the nation’s finances on a surer footing, bringing a modern and progressive financial system where transparency is the watchword.

These past 12 months have seen the UAE reach for the stars, with two of its citizens now going through their paces in preparation for the day when they will be launched into orbit. Soon, an astronaut wearing the UAE colours on his spacesuit will be in the International Space Station. And above us now, KhalifaSat orbits, designed and built in this nation by its citizens.

This was a year when our academic standards were raised, when governments at every level fulfilled their promises of doing more and making full use of artificial intelligence and other technological initiatives. It was a year focused on making a difference to our environment, raising awareness on renewable energy, making sure that our precious resources are cherished and used accordingly.

2018 was a year when the UAE played its part in building a safer and more secure future for our brothers in Yemen and elsewhere. It was a year when, once more, the UAE showed that it would not let forces of extremism, on either side of the Arabian Gulf, take root.