The economic growth the UAE has achieved over the decades has also led to a more active foreign policy. For a country that is increasingly invested in an interconnected world, it is imperative to protect national interests and maintain stability through a cooperative foreign policy.
In the region, those pragmatic interests dovetail with the cultural and historical kinship that the UAE shares with its neighbours.
This year has seen great changes, particularly in several of the countries of North Africa, and these changes offer the region both great promise and significant risk.
This evolving situation and the responsive policy of the UAE can be seen in the energetic diplomacy of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, over the past year.
As the UAE develops its relationships abroad, the country and indeed the GCC as a whole is increasingly taking a leadership stance on foreign affairs. This transition is welcome as powers like the US and the UK come to terms with a changing relationship with the region.
We can see this transition in recent events. In Libya, the Arab League - notably the UAE and Qatar - took a leadership role to bring a relatively quick end to the bloodshed.
The GCC has brokered a transition in Yemen that has finally offered a chance for the country to rebuild.
In Syria, Arab countries are again championing the rights of all citizens.
These foreign policy overtures are all consonant with the UAE's interests in regional stability as well as the country's commitment to human rights. Even before the uncertainty of the recent year, we recognised significant challenges across the Arab world, with youth employment and education chief among them.
These twin goals of security and economic development will be pivotal in the region. The friendships fostered by the UAE's increasingly active foreign policy mean that the country is in a leadership position for the coming decade.
As the nation celebrates 40 years of development, prosperity and friendship, we can see clearly that this milestone is significant not only for the UAE but for the region as a whole.