UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi
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As we celebrate our nation’s 50th anniversary, and look back on the unprecedented progress we have made in the UAE, it is also important to note the common threads that run through this journey. Whether it’s in 2021 or in 1971, trade and talent have always been the bedrock of our economic growth.

The development we have enjoyed over the past 50 years has been built on the strength of our ideals and the unceasing commitment of our people — a desire to be open to the world, to trade not just in products but in ideas. This goes back to our earliest days as a centre for pearl diving, fishing and spice trading. The discovery of oil in the 1950s and 60s accelerated the trajectory, with our newfound wealth enabling our leaders to build an outward-looking, future-focused economic success story.

Within a span of five decades, the UAE has become a global hub for trade, an attractive destination for talent, and a tolerant, multi-faith society that is home to more than 200 nationalities. We have established a country built on innovation, human creativity and technological advancement, one that has become not only a symbol of economic progress, but an example of what can be achieved when visionary leadership, limitless ambition and international cooperation coalesce.

While the pandemic brought the global economy to a standstill, it galvanised our resolve to embrace a complex, uncertain and rapidly changing world with new ideas and bolder plans. Our mission is to reassert UAE’s emerging status as an international centre of business, industry and innovation – and trade and talent remain at its heart. Under plans to double trade exchange in the next decade and increase the size of our economy to Dh3 trillion by 2031, we are entering into trade negotiations with some of the world’s fastest-growing markets in Africa and Asia. Negotiations are already under way with Indonesia, India and Israel, and we are confident more markets will follow. Our ambitions do not have the luxury of time; we are determined to increase exports by at least 50 per cent in the next few years.

In tandem to trade, we are making great strides in attracting and retaining the brightest global talent. By providing a wide range of long-term residency visas, including the new Green Visa, we are making it easier to live, work, study and retire in the country. Stimulating a knowledge-based economy and encouraging advances in new industries will also contribute to our status as an attractive destination for global talent while ensuring the local workforce has the skills, ambition and tenacity to sustain our economic success.

When our founding fathers met in Union House in December 1971, seven emirates came together under the four colours of a new flag to form the UAE. To commemorate this national milestone, the government recently announced our ‘Projects of the 50’ — a series of initiatives aimed at further strengthening and diversifying our economy and ensuring the core principle, however, remains unchanged: The UAE’s success will depend on its status as an advanced, competitive, open and welcoming global nation, a place where human, financial and technological capital can flourish.