The UAE in 2020 made history. While the world mostly suffocated due to the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic, for the UAE, the year will go down in history as one of extraordinary achievements.
With so many firsts achieved this year, the UAE’s journey to realise the leadership’s vision has continued unabated despite the pandemic — the country embraced 2020 as the ‘Year of preparations for the next 50 years’.
While the challenges of COVID-19 disrupted life around the world, the preventive measures taken by the UAE are now being cited globally as the most effective in stemming the spread of the virus. With more than 20 million tests, the UAE ranks first globally for the number of tests per capita, an incredible achievement and a testament to the efficiency of its health system. People in the UAE were the first to receive a vaccine, months before most of the world did.
As it enters 2021 — the year of its Golden Jubilee — the UAE and its people can look back with immense pride at the milestones that made 2020 a momentous year
In July, the UAE launched Hope — the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission — which when it reaches the Martian orbit in February 2021, will unravel more facets of the Red Planet’s atmosphere and climate and share it with the global scientific community.
In August, operations started successfully at the Barakah Nuclear Energy plant. When fully operational, Barakah will produce 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity needs, while reducing carbon emissions equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars from the UAE’s roads annually.
In September, the UAE and Israel signed the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which halted Israel’s plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank and created a new model of peace and regional cooperation in the Middle East.
A massive economic stimulus programme rolled out during the early days of the pandemic was the UAE’s response to help the private sector overcome unpredictable challenges.
The Targeted Economic Support Scheme (TESS) by the UAE Central Bank, made Dh270 billion available to support the country’s businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic. The latest figures from the central bank show that the economy began recovering in the third quarter, sooner than previously predicted.
Changes to UAE penal and civil codes
In November, fundamental changes to the UAE penal and civil codes were announced that broadened personal freedoms and cemented equal protections for all. The changes were aimed at aligning the UAE’s legal foundation with its commitment to tolerance, as well as to boost its stature as a top destination for expats to live and work.
Earlier this month, the Cabinet announced the setting up of the National Human Rights Authority, in line with the Paris Principles for the National Human Rights Institutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
The wave of pain and challenges brought upon the entire world by the coronavirus pandemic has not spared the UAE. But guided by exemplary leadership, the UAE has successfully turned those challenges into opportunities without losing sight of its overall vision and strategies.
As it enters 2021 — the year of its Golden Jubilee — the UAE and its people can look back with immense pride at the milestones that made 2020 a momentous year.