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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

UAE rulers meet to debate future direction of country

Second annual meeting brings together officials from across federal and local government

Senior UAE leaders met to debate the future direction of the country on Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, was among dignitaries who gathered to discuss the nation’s progress as it heads towards its centennial anniversary in 2071.

He was joined at the summit on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

In total, some 500 government representatives and ministers spent the first of two days debating critical national programmes designed to boost economic development across the Emirates.

In a statement issued by the government press agency WAM, officials said a series of new strategies would be launched focusing on food security, artificial intelligence, culture, transport, tourism, and quality of life and happiness.

“Sheikh Zayed has taught us that there are no limits to our dreams and aspirations,” said the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

“The hopes of the UAE's citizens continue to grow every day, and each of us bears the responsibility to help our people attain their dreams.

"Each initiative represents a building block in our nation's development process, and every innovative individual is a key contributor to the success of the UAE and its people.”

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Last year, more than 120 high-profile development projects were launched following the annual meeting in the Emirates.

This year appeared to be no exception, with specific initiatives announced on tourism, housing, transport and business.

On Tuesday, officials highlighted the launch of the UAE Tourism Identity, an initiative aimed at promoting the country “as the first tourism destination worldwide”.

Tourism is currently one of the key pillars of the UAE’s economy and represents an increasingly vital sector as the country seeks to further diversify its revenue streams.

It currently contributes approximately Dh161 billion annually and is forecast to surge by 3.9 per cent a year to reach Dh234.2 billion by 2028 - 10.6 per cent of GDP.

Authorities also announced plans to significantly reform the transport sector, focusing on leveraging the latest technologies to boost safety and prepare the necessary infrastructure for the introduction of autonomous vehicles and new forms of high-speed transport.

Efforts will concentrate on enhancing traffic safety while reducing the environmental impact of road networks and increasing economic productivity.

Emissions targets will also be addressed and specification standards identified for electric and hybrid vehicles to ensure the sustainability of the transport sector.

Ministers additionally announced a "Citizen Redistribution Policy" between public and private sectors, a scheme which will rotate individuals between the two sectors to ensure experienced staff employed in the public sector are able to expand their careers prospects working at private firms.

“The annual meetings of the UAE Government mark a major milestone on the path towards the nation's centennial,” said Sheikh Mohammed.

“It reflects the spirit of team work and the spirit of the Union that the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan envisioned.

“We are launching over 100 initiatives and seven national strategies in keeping with our people's aspirations, shaping the course of the UAE.”