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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Documenting progress, witnessing development and reporting crisis

The last nine years have been a period of extraordinary change. What will the next few years bring?

Abu Dhabi’s development has been relentless. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Abu Dhabi’s development has been relentless. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

In the nine years since this newspaper launched in 2008, the country has undergone an extraordinary period of change: buildings have risen from the sand, schools have opened, policy has been written and ratified and the right to stage a world expo has been secured. It would have been impossible to predict back then that the world would be rocked by a global financial crisis within months ­– the effects of which are still being felt. Or that the Arab uprisings that spread through the region in 2011 would deliver such a complex series of results. Or even that ISIL would explode into being and would require a coalition of nations to degrade and destroy its toxic excesses.

Living in a country where change is both a compulsion and a way of life, it is easy to forget how far the UAE has travelled since 2008 - both in a physical and political sense. But we must look back so that we may also look forward.

Abu Dhabi’s development has been relentless. Yas Island was beginning to emerge back then; now it is a thriving destination and the home of one of the most keenly followed races on the F1 circuit. Louvre Abu Dhabi, New York University Abu Dhabi and others have changed the way we engage with the world. Nine years ago, Dubai's Burj Khalifa was still a work in progress, albeit one that was close to completion. Today, it is the shining example of the city's energy. In its reflection we see Dubai as a place where even the impossible is possible. The remaining emirates ­- Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain – have also been quietly transformed.

In politics and diplomacy, the UAE continues to lead. In the corridors of power in Washington, Brussels, Beijing and elsewhere, this country has earnt a reputation for its cool head and for its willingness to step up, even as the Gulf is presented with the twin challenges of an emboldened, meddling and divisive Iran and a seemingly intransigent and truculent Qatar.

In government, we have watched and reported as innovation ­– often an over-used buzzword – has been transformed from vision to reality. Policy has been enacted and departments introduced to make sure the Government understands and supports further the needs of citizens.

As a paper, we have helped record and document these changes, witnessing happy developments, crisis and tragedies, too. We’ve reported from the major conflicts that have rocked the region, and we’ve analysed tragic events at home and abroad.

We will continue to do that in our new format, but with an even sharper focus than ever before. Like the country itself, this paper has been steadily transformed in the past few months. What stays the same is our passion for the story, our country and our desire to explain and contextualise what happens locally, regionally and globally to our readership. Welcome to The National relaunched.