On August 1, the UAE launched an amnesty scheme for illegal residents to correct their status or leave the country. Initially set for three months, it was extended to November 30 and then December 31. It also provided a six-month visa for amnesty-seekers to find a job. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

It was an eventful year for UAE’s space programme with KhalifaSat’s launch and the selection of the first Emirati astronauts.

An unprecedented amnesty scheme and a long-term visa system for students and professionals underlined the country’s ambition to become the world’s best country to work and live in.

It was also a year of records and awards. The UAE passport being declared the world’s most powerful was the icing on the cake in December.

First liver and lung transplant

On February 21, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, the country’s first multi-organ transplant centre, conducted the UAE’s first liver transplant. The recipient was a 60-year-old Emirati suffering from liver cirrhosis. The first lung transplant in the UAE was then performed 10 days later, providing a 53-year-old Emirati with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with a single lung. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Record-breaking zipline

In February, Ras Al Khaimah earned a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest zipline — Jebel Jais Flight. The 2,800-metre long attraction is perched above the towering Jebel Jais mountain. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

New visa system

On May 20, the UAE Cabinet approved 10-year residency visas for investors and professionals in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields as well as for all scientists and innovators. It also granted five-year residency visas for students studying in the UAE, and 10-year visas for exceptional students. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

World’s top passport

On December 1, the UAE passport jumped to number 1 position in the world, offering visa-free entry, or visa-on-arrival facility to Emiratis travelling to 167 countries. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Holy Quran award

Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum presents the Dubai International Holy Quran Award to 17-year-old Ahmad Burhan, the first American to win it. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

UAE’s first homegrown satellite

KhalifaSat, the UAE’s first satellite built by Emirati engineers, was launched on a Japanese rocket at the Tanegashima Space Centre on October 29. It captures images with a spatial resolution of 70cm — meaning each pixel represents 70cm of the ground. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Unique camel

Bint Shaheen, a female camel calf born at the Dubai Camel Breeding Centre on January 12, became the world’s first camel conceived using frozen sperm from a champion stallion named Shaheen, now retired from racing. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Emirati astronauts

On September 3, the UAE names its first astronauts — Sultan Saif Muftah Hamad Al Niyadi and Hazza Ali Abdan Khalifa Al Mansouri. Both are training in Russia and one of them will travel to the International Space Station in April. Image Credit: WAM/Gulf News Archives

Egyptian declared Arab Hope Maker

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, presents the Arab Hope Makers award to Mahmood Waheed from Egypt on May 14. Wahid helped more than 1,000 homeless elderly people in Egypt. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Briton wins Global Teacher Prize

Andria Zafirakou, a school teacher in the UK, wins the $1 million Global Teacher Prize in Dubai on March 18. She was chosen from 30,000 nominations from around the world. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Largest cup of hot tea

On January 25 Dubai set another Guinness World Record when the Global Village created the largest cup of hot tea. The 3.66-metre high cup, a replica of a regular styrofoam cup, had a heating system to keep the tea’s temperature at 85 degrees Celsius. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dh170,000 speeding fines in four hours

On July 30, a 26-year-old British tourist drove a rented Lamborghini Huracan at speeds as high as 231km/h on Shaikh Zayed Road, racking up Dh170,000 in speeding fines in a period of just under four hours. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives