x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Trial reconfirms that Emiratis have a lot to be proud of

The sedition trial is a testimony to the commitment of the UAE's leadership to maintaining the security of the nation through justice.

At a time when millions of Egyptians are on the streets calling for the president's resignation, when Syria is trapped in an awful civil war, and when neighbouring countries such as Bahrain and Kuwait are dealing with pockets of protests, I cannot help but reflect on the unique social, economic and political landscape in the UAE - and breathe a sigh of relief.

Yesterday the UAE's political system, judicial process and freedoms all came to the fore, in a landmark court case.

Emiratis are a proud people - proud of their heritage, proud of each other, and proud of the leaders who have guided them through good and bad times.

More importantly, as mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, we work hand in hand to provide each other with lives of happiness and dignity, and to give back to the country that has given us all so much.

As Emiratis, and as global citizens, we know that there are three elements that have been created and will continue to govern the fabric of our lives: the freedom to express social, economic and political concerns; the right to a life of dignity; and the security and stability of our nation.

In a sense the trial confirms all three of these elements.

When Mohammed Morsi first took office in Egypt, a year ago this week, one of the first things people did was gather outside the presidential palace in hope of having their concerns heard. In too many countries today, the walls between the leaders and the people appear to grow taller by the day, whereas such walls have never existed in the UAE.

It is beyond the comprehension of a lot of the UAE's citizens that a minority felt the need to create an ill-intentioned group and voice their concerns through other channels.

The UAE's leadership has prided itself on hearing the people's concerns, and welcoming information about the issues citizens face in their day-to-day lives.

The Crown Prince's weekly majlis, open to all, shows this. So do the regular tours of the nation undertaken by members of the Government to check on the health, well-being and progress of citizens and residents. So does the freedom to simply walk up to our leaders when we see them around town.

Our leaders are listening. What separates the UAE from the world is that here the people do not have to go out of their way to express themselves to the rulers. Rather, the rulers go out among the people and seek their opinions.

In public-opinion research carried out by TNS MENA, 91 per cent of Emirati respondents said they were either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their quality of life. The UAE provides its citizens with free health care, free schooling, sponsored higher education, access to land and interest-free loans to build homes, marriage grants to newlywed couples, employment opportunities and more. Fundamentally, the country provides a platform for citizens to live lives of dignity and pursue their dreams.

However, the sense of dignity does not stop there. It has also been evident in the judicial process in the trial that concluded yesterday: the court provided fair treatment to all the defendants through visitation rights, protection of the identities of the accused and their families, and even assurance of international medical treatment.

More importantly, when the defendants have voiced complaints, the court has investigated, and no signs of unfairness in the judicial process have been discovered. As citizens and residents we can truly be proud of this. Fair trials are a sign of the utmost respect and probity within the justice system.

The UAE has always prided itself on working to promote peace, stability and security throughout the region, starting of course within its borders.

With a population of approximately 7 million, the UAE's citizens and residents depend on that stability, as future generations will, to maintain the way of life they know and cherish.

The UAE has always made it a point to use dialogue and understanding to move towards healthy resolution of disputes, be they domestic or international.

The sedition trial is a testimony to the commitment of the UAE's leadership to maintaining the security of our nation through justice.

I am not a politician, lawyer or activist, so when I speak about the trial I speak as a husband, I speak as a father, and I speak as a proud son of the UAE.

July 2, 2013 will be remembered as the day when a verdict was announced, people were held responsible and the guilty were sorted from the innocent. It is the end point of a process that has showcased a fair judicial system, answered international concerns about freedom and human rights, and put forth the true meaning of unity between a people and its leaders.

Within the walls of our homes, or the boundaries of our beloved country, our leadership has always put our safety and prosperity before everything else.

The late Sheikh Zayed described the relationship between the leaders and the people by saying that we are "all in the same boat, where the people are both captain and crew".

This concept lives on today: our leaders are always beside us, even in the roughest seas. And we will always stand beside them.


Khalid Al Ameri is an MBA candidate at the Stanford Graduate School of Business

On Twitter: @KhalidAlAmeri