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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

A time to reflect on the past and look to a bright future

Planning for the UAE’s centennial vision requires dedication and attention to detail

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (centre), with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai (left) and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai (right) at the UAE government annual meeting. Ryan Carter / Ministry of Presidential Affairs
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (centre), with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai (left) and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai (right) at the UAE government annual meeting. Ryan Carter / Ministry of Presidential Affairs

This time of year always lends itself to a period of reflection. The year’s end is preceded by the celebration of a new beginning – the founding of the union and National Day – and a time to contemplate all that has been achieved in the past 47 years and all that lies ahead. We are almost halfway to the nation’s centenary and that marker signifies the importance of planning carefully to fulfil the dream of making the UAE one of the best places to live in the world. The key question the nation’s leaders will be asking as they meet today is: how do you design the future?

The two-day UAE government annual meeting brings together 500 federal and local government officials, as well as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. They will be considering every aspect of life in the UAE, from the housing initiative announced today to transport, health and education, with a special focus on the course of the national journey from now until the centenary in 2071. This is a grand ambition which speak to the future-proofing of skills and ensuring Emiratis and overseas residents alike are equipped to take their place at the forefront of the technological revolutions that are changing the world. The talk in Abu Dhabi will be of how to prepare the UAE to stand among the greatest nations on earth, in keeping with the aspirations of the UAE’s Vision 2021 framework.

But these two days are about so much more than fine rhetoric. A future based on a knowledge economy requires the building of a framework as well as dedication and hard work. Attention to detail is in the DNA of leaders who grew up with the example of how their forefathers built the foundations of the modern UAE from the ground up, one road, one building, one port and one idea at a time. When the iconic Burj Al Arab was built, its architects were astonished by Sheikh Mohammed’s attention to detail, right down to choosing the door handles. It is in attention to such granular detail that the future will be forged – in the hands of 30 councils, each focused on improving a key sector, from education and transport to health and tourism. Each will strive for excellence in their own right and that unswerving attention to every pixel will form a bigger picture of progress and improvement. Tomorrow cannot be left to fate. The future must be designed and it is here, at the molecular level of strategic planning and government, that the plans are being laid.