Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid speaks of transformation as rulers and crown princes of the seven emirates pay their 37th birthday tributes to the creation of a common national identity.
The UAE's 'staggering' story
Rulers and crown princes of the seven emirates praised the achievements of the UAE that have led to the creation of a common national identity, as the nation celebrates the 37th anniversary of the federation. "We have, over the past 37 years, worked what look like miracles in terms of human and urban development," said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. "We have transformed from divergent communities into one convergent community under a common national identity. "From a state where illiteracy prevailed, to a community which boasts of education. "From primitive services and infrastructure, to utilities and infrastructure that match if not better their counterparts in advanced countries. "From forgotten emirates in this part of the world, to an active state, earning respect and credibility of the whole world." Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid pledged to realise the nation's dreams through persistence, work and performance, but reminded those who did not work hard that their dreams would turn into a mirage. "Our country has become a country of achievement and excellence. The UAE has made staggering rates of overall development and earned a reputed regional and international standing that many countries of the world would not be able to do." Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, said that national identity can be further promoted through dialogue. "Keen to instil the concept of national identity, we have worked toward perpetuating the national dialogue and to promote a democratic climate that allows different points of views and discussion of public issues in a transparent and objective manner," he said, echoing the statement from Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed's, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, to introduce democratic reforms Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said women had taken a major part in the Government's political empowerment efforts. "Women are occupying today the highest positions in all fields and effectively contributing to the process of development and modernisation through their participation in the three powers: the executive, the legislative and the judicial." Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed touched on the economic development in the UAE, saying that the major economic ventures that have been launched support the Emirates strategic plans to maintain an influential role, regionally and internationally. "The Emirates has become a vital regional and global centre for trade, business, tourism, investment and re-exporting," he said, highlighting the Government's efforts to support a diverse national industry. Speaking of the international financial crisis, he said: "The country has developed plans to address the crisis in the short and long term. It has also pledged support to the international efforts to combat terrorism, organised crime and money laundering." Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who is also Deputy Commander of Armed Forces, praised the leadership's efforts to modernise the Armed Forces and boost its capabilities to defend the country and to play a vital role in the security of the Gulf and the Middle East. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, said: "The UAE is experiencing the economic boom and prosperity because of the directives from its wise leadership. The UAE remains an economic powerhouse despite the current global financial crunch." He urged young Emirati citizens to acquire genuine skills and good education to maintain the economic boom. Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed, Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, hailed the declaration of the federation by the late Sheikh Zayed and rulers, describing it as "heroic and historic". "The UAE is our mother and existence. We have to work with team's spirit and self-denial to serve the country and safeguard our unity and stability." Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed, Ruler of Fujairah, said: "We have to exert further efforts to occupy a place among the most developed countries. This has been a strategic target for the federal Government to attain sustainable development and decent living for citizens." firstname.lastname@example.org * with input from WAM