x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

UAE offers region a model for progress

Arab youth across the region see the UAE as the country where they would most like to live, work or own a business.

Oil helped build the UAE in the 20th century, but it is the diversified nature of the country's economy that is attracting young talent to these shores in the 21st.

As The National reports today, Arab youth across the region and the world perceive the United Arab Emirates as the country where they would most like to live, work or own a business. And, significantly, the UAE is the nation young Arabs would most like their home countries to emulate.

These welcome results, culled from 2,500 interviews across 12 Arab states (and compiled by ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller, a consulting firm), paint a picture of pragmatism. Despite the yearning for political reform and democracy - hallmarks of the Arab uprisings - the potential to earn higher wages and own a home are now the two highest priorities for young people in the Middle East.

By itself these findings are unremarkable. Who doesn't want to make more money and raise a family in their own flat? But that the UAE is now seen as a model - a leader in a region of great diversity, culture and history - should indeed be viewed as vindication of the nation's vision.

In the words of the study's authors, the UAE "has demonstrated that Arab nations can thrive by embracing economic diversification and promoting a culture founded upon the principles of cosmopolitanism and inclusivity". These aspirations could not have been met without political stability, which the UAE has enjoyed for four decades. And no doubt nations across the region continue to battle unrest and calls for improved governance that, for now, will trump economic reforms.

But the UAE offers an example of what's possible in a troubled region. Indeed, Ahmad Salem al-Koshly, Libya's National Transitional Council minister of economy, said this week his country is aiming to emulate the UAE's model of diversifying from oil, and would be seeking Emirati support and guidance to rebuild its war-ravaged economy.

All seven emirates in the UAE have long since pursued this path, developing other industries such as tourism and agriculture to augment growth. The story is far from complete; with the fields of renewable energy and manufacturing showing significant growth in the economy, there is plenty of room for the country to achieve even more. And, of course, to offer, to our neighbours.