Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

The fireworks are done, the celebrations over and now 2019 is upon us. It will be a year of great achievement and expectations fulfilled, one that will be celebrated as a Year of Tolerance, underscoring all that brings us together in our remarkable journey of harmony and peaceful coexistence. Indeed, it is those virtues that will be highlighted with the two-day visit in just over nine weeks as Pope Francis arrives in the UAE. That will be an occasion where our diversity will be celebrated — a nation that people from some 200 nations at every corner of the globe now call home and live together with common purpose and in common joy.

This will be a year where the advances of the UAE are once more on display. As our nations’ cities continue to take shape, raising new landmarks that truly put the UAE on the world map in ways few other cities can manage, there is the knowledge too that they will soon be powered by electricity to be generated from the Al Baraka nuclear power plant in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. While it won’t likely be fully on stream, it will mark the first time a nuclear power plant will power an Arab nation — yet another significant step in our nation’s march of progress and commitment to renewable energy.

Across this region there are forces at work that promote extremist points of view. Make no mistake, in the coming 12 months the UAE will continue to oppose these forces. In Yemen, the coming 12 months will be challenging, but our Arab brothers can take solace from knowing the UAE is committed to providing security, building a future where there is running water, power supplies, hospitals, roads and schools when the peace has been won.

Our Palestinians brothers can know too that the UAE will also be at their side, standing up for justice, seeking a just peace, opposing the forces that would see Palestinian history and heritage confined to second-class status. For those in refugee camps, whether that be in Jordan, or our Muslim brothers, the Rohingya, forced from Myanmar by a morally bankrupt regime, the UAE will continue to provide help and assistance, when the need is most and the donors are few. This coming year will really set the clock ticking too for the advent of Expo2020. These are critical months ahead, where the site will truly take shape, its pavilions readied to go up, and the engineering in place for the Metro trains that will service the site.This New Year’s Day is a time of hope of promises and of commitment. And yes, the UAE truly is a nation of promise, hope and commitment.