In an uncustomary Covid-19 atmosphere, there is certain buzz in our newsroom. A jubilant one that has raised the motivation to a different level, something I haven’t seen for some time.
The reason is the Golden Visa. Dozens of Gulf News staff have been nominated last month, thanks to the Dubai Government Media Office, for the cherished long- term residency. Many of the staff have already gotten it.
The Golden Visa, the 10-year residency, is one of the many ways the UAE recognises the contribution of the expatriate community to the amazing success story of this young nation.
And as we mark the UAE’s Golden Jubilee, the country wanted to say thanks to those whose efforts are not only have been essential to the achievements of the last 5 decades but certainly important in the next phase of the country’s development.
Part of the UAE story
It is great to feel part of something so magnificent such as the story of the UAE. And it is even greater when you are being recognised and rewarded for that role you played in that story even if it is just a little one such your daily job which you obviously are being paid for it.
What is unique about this country is its ability to surprise. At a time when many countries in the region succumb to the pressure of a marginal part of their societies that call for restricting the number of expatriate workers, the UAE rolls the red carpet for the ambitious, talented, and dedicated foreigners to make this country their home.
Recently, one of the Gulf states announce that expatriates over 60 years of age will no longer be able to renew their work permits. In some cases, the decision said, a 60-year-old foreigner can renew their visa for a whopping $6,500 a year!
It is pity that one can just throw all these years of rich experience away. Not the UAE. The UAE would cherish such human wealth. And that what sets this country apart. Or just one example of its ability to set the bar high for those who try to imitate.
Race for excellence
In the race for excellence, there is no finish line, says His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. So far, the finish line cannot even be imagined.
This month, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will announce 50 economic strategic projects, starting on 5 September (today), aimed to build on the UAE’s status as one of the world’s top competitive economies to accelerate growth and provide a sustainable, flexible and attractive environment for the national economy and the private sector to grow even faster and stronger.
The UAE is already ranked among the top globally and in many ways the leader regionally, in almost all economic development indexes. There is nothing else there to prove. But in the UAE’s race for excellence, there is no finish line. And it is not just about the economy.
In its natural ability to make it even harder for those who try to emulate, the UAE sets the ceiling even higher when it come to human development, governance, and social well-being. In the past few days, and as those 50 projects are being announced by the UAE leaders, two landmark Presidential Federal Decrees were announced.
The first, the establishment of a national human rights institution- a legally independent body that is going to promote and protect human rights in the country. most importantly, this new body is being created according to the 1993 Paris human rights protocols and in cooperation with the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Human Rights.
Protection of law
The second federal decree put in place the rules to hold ministers and senior officials in the federal government accountable. “The Public Prosecutor can ban any senior official from travel, freeze funds if needed, and senior officials can be dismissed for administrative and financial violations,” Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid noted on his twitter account. The rules will boost the anti-corruption measures and ensure that the country’s achievements in the past 50 years and the accomplishments of the next 50 are protected by the law.
We live in a tough neighbourhood. Many parts of the Middle East are plagued, for as long as we can remember, by wars, civil strife, underdevelopment, and dysfunctional governing structures. And many of those countries seem to have just given up. They seem to have unfortunately lost the incentive or the ability, or both, to compete in the world. It is a vicious cycle of which sadly some Arab countries cannot break.
Not the UAE. Since inception of the union in 1971, the nation’s founders set higher goals for this young emerging state. Today, we can see the results of those ambitious plans- a nation that is at peace with itself and its neighbourhood, a unique economic environment that allowed for a small nation to compete against and beat larger and older economies, and a social structure that is built on tolerance, coexistence and welcoming and rewarding those who want to work and contribute to its growth and development- as in the Golden Visa scheme.
And in just few weeks, when the biggest show on earth, Expo 2020, opens its doors to millions of people, the whole world will see first-hand what this remarkable young nation is about.