x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

President's address to the nation

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, addresses the nation on the 37th Anniversary of the United Arab Emirates' National Day.

The following is a statement made by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, on the 37th Anniversary of the United Arab Emirates' National Day. In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. My sons and daughters in nationality, Assalamu Alaykum Warahmatullah Wabarakatuhu. On this auspicious day, as we cherish the memories of an occasion that is dear to us all, I feel happy to express my deep-felt appreciation for you, and to congratulate you for your efforts for entrenching the values of our federation and for preserving its gains.

It is an occasion from which we read noble meanings and lessons, and derive our determination and strength. It is during this occasion that we evaluate our march in the present and look up to our future. On this day, we remember in pride and glory, the lives and history of the founding father of our nation, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan and his brothers, the co-founders who built the edifice of this blessed federation. I pray that Allah the Almighty may bestow His endless mercy upon them all.

My brothers and sisters in nationality, the march of our federation through the last 37 years has made numerous achievements, fulfilled enormous ambitions and encompassed several avenues of our lives, taking our nation, the society and the individual into the 21st century, adequately armed to face its challenges and opportunities. At the same time, the sense of satisfaction over what we gained in our country should not be a reason for lethargy and relaxation; rather it should be an endless inspiration for more work and self giving. This selfless work should fortify the gains of the citizens, should guarantee more achievements, and should strengthen our hopes as well as the hopes of the coming generations for a noble life in dignity, security and stability.

My brothers and sisters in nationality, when I made a call during the last year to make 2008 an year of national identity, I did not aim to connect our identity with a timeline, as the identity is not a symbol for a specific phase. Identity is rather a comprehensive framework, within which we preserve our cultural heritage and civilisation. It shapes our attitude towards our surroundings and defines the direction, where our special nature and the strengthening elements of our characteristics will be preserved.

My objective was to encourage initiatives and define the mediums and mechanisms which will help to develop the components of our identity in a way that will protect it from wantonness, and keep it well-fortified against distortions; ultimately leading us to tranquillity that all citizens aspire for themselves as well as for their children who come after them. I paid attention to all opinions expressed and all ideas presented during the past months, and found that they reflected the depth of maturity and consciousness our citizens are blessed with, the extent of their keenness for interaction and their constructive participation in every issue related to the national work. Those opinions also touched upon our priorities and the challenges lying ahead.

All discussions about the strengthening forces of our national identity revealed that what deserves our prime attention is the work for the development of national capability through a comprehensive vision. In this process, the efforts of all the governmental institutions and its various machineries will join with the social movement with all its inherent and influences and impacts. The first parameter in the development of the national capability is the concern for quality on the level of medium and the output. This necessitates enhancement of the competitiveness of individuals, institutions and sectors.

It also calls for the empowerment of the nationals, both on individual and institutional levels, to embrace knowledge in a way that will make them capable to enter into local and foreign partnerships and to become a strong bridge facilitating the transfer of knowledge and expertise. Ultimately they will nationalise them in a way that suits our requirements and development plans. This also necessitates the development of a national system for innovation and invention, capable of transferring knowledge and expertise and assimilating them, and finally reproducing them locally.

The human resources development does not mean just the preservation of the pattern of development; it is also the way for entrenching the position of our country as a centre of global attraction in the fields of business, trade and services, and as a link between the East the West. Similarly enough, the concern for quality involves a process of refining the basic intellectual patterns of the society from illusions and impurities that interpolated our beliefs, our civilisation and our history.

The development of national capability and the enhancement of its presence at various social and economic junctures require evolvement of legislative frameworks, endorsement of clearly defined programmes and finally, confrontation of all what threatens the fabric of the society, whether in its faith, language, social and cultural heritages. My brothers and sisters, if the openness that distinguished our developmental march, and the spirit of tolerance that prevails in every element of the UAE society are the source of the material and spiritual wealth of our experiment, as well as the foundation of our distinguished position on regional and the global levels, then we have to pay its tax in the form of the anomalies in our demography.

This is not an emergency problem, or a problem that affects UAE only among the countries in the region. So it should be treated through the adoption of a comprehensive vision benefiting from the experience of others, or through government efforts in partnership with the society. This is with an aim to achieve balance between our ambitions, as well as our keenness to preserve the dynamics in the process of the social and economic development, and the legitimate right of the citizens to live in a country where they are the mainstream, the people of the pioneering role, the ruling voice and the integrating identity.

In this context, let me note the efforts of the Government, and say that the time has come to strengthen these efforts with more active and articulate participation of the civil organisations for bringing forth practical suggestions and solutions capable of succeeding. As we perceive the difficulties encountered by those who address a chronic problem like this, we are also confident that we have the opportunity to overcome it, through the full investment of the national capability, including the capability of the UAE woman, who proved success in all the duties she performed and all the positions she occupied. We also should depend on modern technology, on advanced management methodologies, on training and on continuous quality enrichment at every level of work.

My brothers and sisters, since the last many years, we are living a new developmental boom which transformed UAE into an international trade and financial centre with all its meanings and connotations. This development demands from us to safeguard this position, well-fortified through building a solid regulatory structure, which will respond to the changes and conform to the global standards. The backbone of any improvement of governance, its development as well as its protection from any form of wastage or excessiveness, is a mechanism to place laws under the microscope of revision and modernisation until they resonate in tune with the methodological development and new administrative technologies.

Here, it is imperative to emphasise the role the private sector presently plays, as well the integrative relation between the local and federal levels in any process of legislative modernisation and development. My brothers and sisters, the environment constituted one of the clearly defined major areas in every aspect of development. The concern for environment was an expression of our pristine national vision, not just an act of following the global concern in this regard. If we have made visible achievements in this field, then the issue of environment should continue to be a central one in our concerns, a prime axis of our work and an ultimate priority among our national priorities.

The protection of environment, the preservation of the natural wealth and its biodiversity, the promotion of our country as a safe and suitable place to live, to work and to bring up our future generations; all these should remain the unchangeable objectives of any federal environmental strategy or local programme of work. My brothers and sisters, the march of our federation has crossed several milestones on the plain of social and economic development, as it has built an institutional life on strong foundations. As we continue the process of building our nation with the same power and determination, I look forward to receiving more participation from the people in this endeavour, with all faith in the importance of building an interactive relationship between the two poles of our political existence and the social pyramid.

With this faith, I am solicitous to continue to strengthen our democratic process and to develop it until we reach the aspired level of its participatory role. My brothers and sisters, our achievements on the domestic level wouldn't have been possible without the prudent foreign policy our country had adopted. This policy contributed in providing the essentials of success in the march of our federation braving various challenges and dangers it had to encounter.

As we continue to work in the guidance of the principles of that prudent policy, and ensure our distinctive diplomatic presence at the regional and international forums in defence of our national choices and in support of the Arab issues, we put among the priorities of this policy, the endeavour to restore our rights in the three Islands, Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa. To regain these rights, we adopt the peaceful alternative that is based on direct negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, international arbitration or referral of the case to the International Court of Justice. We have made a pre-commitment to accept the results of such arbitration whatever they may be.

When we keep alive our hopes that Iran will respond to our peaceful endeavour respecting the good-neighbour policy and the joint historical heritage, and protecting the mutual interests of both countries, it is sorrowful to see the Iranian actions with an aim of changing the landmarks of the islands and imposing its on will on them. I assert that betting on its arbitrary occupation of the islands, or on our loss of hope at the end of the continued demand for our proven rights be established in the islands, is a betting which will lose in the end.

As we hope that Iran will revise its stance and accept our peaceful initiatives, we also wish that the Arab and international understanding of our stance will be a helpful factor to convince Iran to sit across the negotiations table for reaching a just settlement. Brothers and sisters, We live in a region of long-lived crises. We are well aware of the fact that we can't isolate ourselves from the hardships and challenges going on in our Arab and regional neighbourhood. Thus, our interaction with our surroundings is a tax levied on us by our regional obligations and national duty.

Based on this understanding, we paid attention to the situations in the sisterly country of Iraq. As we hope that the improvement in the relative security marks the beginning of its exit from the whirlpool of violence, which it lived for several years, we have embarked upon helping the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people in several ways. Among the major initiatives in this regard were the cancellation of the debt Iraq had to repay to UAE and the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries as an expression of our support to the process of bringing the peace back to Iraq, ultimately helping it to regain its role and national sovereignty, and to protect its freedom and the territorial integrity and the unity of people.

With respect to the Palestinian issue, we see that the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian and Arab lands, is a threat to the security and stability of the entire region. We also believe that the failure in finding a just solution for this issue on the basis of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with the Holy city of Jerusalem (Al-Quds) as its capital, will leave the region as a plunder for instability and a source of threat to the regional peace. We hope from the active international parties, especially the United States of America to exert more efforts to convince Israel to abandon its hostile policies and accept legitimate international resolutions.

With regard to Lebanon, we expressed our satisfaction over the positive domestic developments, which transformed to the reconciliation among various factions to elect a new president, to form a government and to begin a series of conciliatory initiatives among the Lebanese factions. I hope that Lebanon will regain its position as a centre of radiance and an exemplary model for coexistence of various political powers and religious denominations.

With regard to Sudan, I hope that the efforts for finding a viable solution for the difficult humanitarian situation in Darfur within the framework of preserving Sudan's freedom and unity will succeed. I also hope that the efforts to save Somalia from the vortex of violence will gain more strength. As I hail the achievements of the international co-operation on the plain of combating terrorism and drying its springs, I also believe that these efforts should continue and improve, not only with the military and security means, but also through the work for solving explosive issues, without leaving them for the terrorist groups to exploit for their private agendas which have nothing to do with the supreme interests of the region.

Based on our responsibility we paid attention to the humanitarian situations in several parts of the world. UAE's continuously growing initiatives in the field of charitable and humanitarian works became a basic component of our foreign activities. Apart from the emergency aid we provide to alleviate the sufferings of victims of natural disasters, calamities and crises, we worked for transforming UAE's charity activities into an institutional activity with an aim of making them more effective and sustainable.

My fellow citizens, if the deeds are measured by their results, then what we have achieved over the past years since the birth of our country was historic, exceptional and visible. O the children of our country, you created these achievements, uniting and united under the flag of the UAE. On this day, I salute the officers, non-commissioned officers of our Armed forces and the Police directorates, as well as all the other security agencies for their sincerity and dedication and sacrifice in fulfilling their duties. I reassure them of my limitless trust in them, of my endeavour to develop their abilities and modernise their material, and to guarantee comprehensive care for them and for their families.

I never forget to express my appreciation and gratitude to those who reside among us, the citizens of sisterly and the friendly countries, for the role they play and the efforts they contribute. I pray to Allah Almighty that He may guide us to do what He loves and grant us success in pursuing the march of progress and prosperity of our country. I wish you many happy and prosperous returns of the day.

Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates. *WAM