‘Our people will lead the way to growth’, says Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid
DUBAI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on Sunday spoke of the region’s enduring will and ability to develop, despite the challenges posed in many Arab countries.
“Twelve years ago I addressed a very honest letter to the Arab leadership urging them to change,” the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai said in a question-and-answer session at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
“Some people surrounding Arab leaderships would relay messages that everything was fine, but that did not reflect the reality on the ground.
“The Arab region is the cradle of human civilisation and there should be no doubt that we all have hope and are optimistic. I am optimistic and I have hope in reigniting the region’s development.”
He said the Arab world had the determination and natural resources for development, but management on government, economic and human levels was crucial.
“We have challenges on the managerial levels in the Arab world and that is clear in our failures in areas such as sports,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
The most important of the country’s developments were reflected in its people, he said.
“When the country was first established we had 40 graduates only and now we have 77 universities,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“The next Emirati goal is to reach Mars. The driving force behind the Mars programme are young Emiratis in their 20s and we are proud of them.”
Equaly important was the UAE’s push for greater gender equality and increasing women’s participation in the Government, the results of which were shown by the Cabinet, in which a third of the members are women.
That could increase to 50 per cent in the future.
Sheikh Mohammed praised, in particular, the efforts of Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth, who was appointed last year at the age of 22.
“Shamma Al Mazrui today leads the biggest ministry in the UAE, in which thousands of Emirati youth work,” he said. “She not only held sit-downs for Emirati youth across the country but also reached out to those who are abroad.”
Sheikh Mohammed said it was important that people did not lose hope in the region’s progress and Arab development.
“The problems of the world will never stop, but we must focus on giving and strive to serve our people,” he said.
“We don’t claim to be perfect but we learn something new every day. We must not waste time and we are ready to share our experiences.”
He said that having a vision was not enough to build a successful nation – there had to be plans.
Asked whether religion and politics could be separated, Sheikh Mohammed responded: “Before Islam, there were tribes that would battle and occupy each other, but when Islam came, with it came civilisation from which the whole world benefited.
“Now we have people who kill others in the name of the Quran and they blow themselves up in the Arab world, in Europe and America. This is not our Islam. Our Islam is about love and togetherness.”
Sheikh Mohammed said that corruption and bribery were major challenges facing the Arab world.
“A true leader does not accept corruption and a true leader is not silent about it,” he said. “We in the UAE do not in any way accept corruption. We have zero tolerance when it comes to corruption.”
More than 4,000 delegates from 139 countries are taking part in the three-day summit, which will feature 150 speakers across 114 sessions.
Updated: February 12, 2017 04:00 AM