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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

National Day: An occasion to look to UAE’s glittering future

The country’s remarkable growth in recent decades is just cause for celebration

A father and his daughter play at Flag Garden on Kite Beach, Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National
A father and his daughter play at Flag Garden on Kite Beach, Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National

As Emiratis and residents assemble tomorrow to celebrate the UAE’s 47th National Day, the country’s extraordinary growth is crystallised once again. It was on December 2, 1971, thanks in large part to the unifying work of Sheikh Zayed, that the leaders of the autonomous emirates congregated in Dubai to sign a Treaty of Friendship. And with the strokes of six pens – for Ras Al Khaimah joined two months later – the UAE was born. Each understood then that they would be far stronger together than alone.

There is no greater vindication of that decision than the UAE’s transformation, in just a few decades, from a network of fishing communities into a dynamic financial hub, actively shaping regional and international affairs.

This newspaper’s coverage of the National Day build-up has seen officials, business leaders and graduates express their immense pride in the UAE’s development, which has always had tolerance and diversity at its heart. The 200 nationalities that today call the UAE home are testament to that.

And this National Day holds added significance because it falls on the Year of Zayed, marked by events nationwide celebrating the birth of the late Founding Father. Sheikh Zayed once noted that “any ruler is only there to serve his people and secure for them prosperity and progress”. With those two aims manifestly achieved, the country’s aspirations today reach further than anyone could have imagined 47 years ago.

Aided by a series of striking reforms implemented this year, the country is diversifying beyond the oil that fuelled its immense growth, becoming a centre of knowledge, culture, tourism, logistics and trade. As of October, KhalifaSat, the first satellite built entirely by UAE engineers, is orbiting the earth, while the International Space Station will next year welcome its first Emirati visitor. Ties with Gulf neighbours are stronger than ever, evinced by the series of formal events in Saudi Arabia to mark this auspicious occasion. And across the region and the globe, from the rubble-strewn streets of Mosul, where the UAE is reconstructing the Al Nuri mosque, to the corridors of the United Nations, this country is increasingly at the forefront.

As the UAE enters its 48th year, it will not lose sight of the core principles espoused by Sheikh Zayed and sustained by all those who built the nation. So, while National Day is dominated by parades, fireworks and celebration, it is also a moment to reflect on the UAE’s evolution and to look with optimism towards an even brighter future.