China outreach: Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid and Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who arrived on a three-day state visit to the UAE, in Abu Dhabi on July 19. Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News Archives

The UAE’s visionary leadership set the stage for strong diplomacy, technological achievements, educational and social initiatives and cultural development in 2018.

From forging stronger ties with China and Pakistan to increasing women’s representation in the Federal National Council, it was a year of milestones.

The world’s largest audio library, an e-learning platform and the million books initiative capped a successful year.

E-learning platform

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime MInister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched Madrasa, a new UAE e-learning platform offering 5,000 educational videos, on October 16. Image Credit: WAM

Arab Development Action Shield

On July 4, the Arab League honoured Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid with the Arab Development Action Shield for his leadership. Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, received the award from Ahmad Abu Al Geit, secretary-general of the Arab League. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

One Million Books initiative

Shaikh Mohammad launches the One Million Books initiative on March 1 to support school libraries. The initiative marked the beginning of the UAE’s National Month of Reading, which featured more than 1,700 initiatives and events. Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News Archives

Women in FNC

On December 8 the UAE Government announced that the representation of Emirati women in the Federal National Council would be increased to 50 per cent. Image Credit: WAM

Imran on historic visit

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, in Abu Dhabi on November 18. It was Khan’s first visit to the UAE after being elected. Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News Archives

Cultural connection

His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Paris Book Fair on March 15. He presented Macron with a number of his literary works translated into French. Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News Archives

Arabic audio library

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince, launches the Dubai Audio Library, the world’s largest Arabic audio library, on December 6. More than 10,000 volunteers will convert Arabic books into digital format using OCR scanners and edit them before uploading them to the website. Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News Archives

Slice of history

The refurbished Qasr Al Hosn fort, built around 1795, opened in Abu Dhabi on December 5. Both the inner and outer sections of the fort are opened to the public, allowing access to the historic palace. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News Archives

Zayed memorial

The Founder’s Memorial, a permanent tribute to Shaikh Zayed, was inaugurated in Abu Dhabi on January 22. The centrepiece of the Founder’s Memorial is the Constellation, a monumental artwork by public artist Ralph Helmick that depicts a dynamic three-dimensional portrait of Shaikh Zayed. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News Archives