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2019 will be remembered as the year when the UAE reached for the stars Image Credit: Supplied

So the final hours of 2019 are drawing to a close, bringing the curtain down on a decade that has seen the UAE grow from strength to strength, setting the pace on a remarkable and unprecedent era of growth and achievement for the nation.

Over the past decade, the UAE has expanded economically, built higher, traded more, reached to new markets and celebrated old and trust friendships around the world. And throughout 2019, the UAE showed that it was a nation where all can live together in harmony, sharing the values of the Year of Tolerance.

To highlight the unique circumstances in which people from every corner of the globe, following every faith, immersed in different cultures all come together to very peacefully coexist in harmony in the UAE, in February we were graced with a three-day visit by Pope Francis, spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

The visit by Francis, , the first by a pontiff to the Arabian Gulf, coincided with an interfaith conference, bringing together spiritual leaders to foster understanding and build interfaith dialogue and ecumenicalism — values that are cherished by the UAE, promoting harmony regardless of colour, creed or circumstance.

Yes, 2019 was a year too of challenges, but the brave men and women who serve this nation in the ranks of the Armed Forces did so with a heroic professionalism and valour — a fountain of great pride for us all

- Gulf News

In many ways too, the opening of the Quranic Park in Dubai in April also underscored the principles of tolerance, providing a unique cultural and educational understanding of Islamic heritage.

Throughout 2019, reform was a central theme for government at every level. The visa scheme was overhauled, so too the way in which companies had to fund their workers. Streamlining processes and availing of the opportunities brought by e-governance also greatly improved the overall efficiency of doing business and administration.

Parents had certainty brought to the cost of education, reforms in real estate brought certainty to the marketplace, and an overhaul of the nation’s personal bankruptcy laws brought certainty too for many troubled by poor or distressed finances. Whether it be in new excise duties or the honing of the VAT system, a new maturity was brought to bear on our national economy.

Yes, 2019 was a year too of challenges, but the brave men and women who serve this nation in the ranks of the Armed Forces did so with a heroic professionalism and valour — a fountain of great pride for us all. But forever, 2019 will be remembered as the year when the UAE reached for the stars in September and put a man into orbit above our earth. As Hazzaa Al Mansoori floated freely above us, it was a timely reminder indeed of how far this nation has come in its first 48 years.