Credit By: UAEpedia
A Visionary Nation Celebrates Founding Day
United Arab Emirates (UAE) commemorates its Founding Day on December 2, the world witnesses an extraordinary success story emerging from the heart of the Arab and Muslim world. With just under 10 million population, including 12% Emiratis, the UAE has surpassed expectations, making significant contributions to global affairs and human accomplishments.
From Union to Technological Leadership
Established 52 years ago as a union of seven relatively unknown emirates in the Arabian desert, the UAE has transformed into a global leader in cutting-edge technology. Pioneering as the first Arab and Muslim country to launch a mission to Mars, the UAE currently holds the tenth position in the Global Competitiveness Report 2023 by the World Economic Forum, showcasing its economic prowess on the global stage.
Global Impact Beyond Size
Despite its modest population, the UAE has secured the top in the Global Passport Power Rank Index 2023. It stands among the top 10 donor states providing official development aid (ODA) to those in need. This success is not merely a result of oil wealth. Still, it stems from judicious policy choices made by successive leaders dedicated to building a Muslim, modern, and moderate nation.
Leadership’s Vision: Shaping a Prosperous Future
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s founding father, laid the foundation for success with two pivotal decisions at the country’s independence. First, rejecting political Islam ensured that tradition would not impede progress. Second, a positive nationalism based on shared aspirations was chosen over negative nationalism, setting the UAE on a pragmatic development course.
Investing in People: A Priority from the Start
The UAE wisely invested its oil wealth in its people, constructing world-class infrastructure, healthcare facilities, and educational institutions. Emphasizing education as the key to an inclusive and prosperous society, the literacy rates soared from 58% (men) and 38% (women) in 1975 to an impressive 95% for both genders today.
Cultural Transformation: Embracing Diversity
The UAE’s openness to learning and competing globally attracted some of the world’s best universities, fostering a highly educated and skilled population within a generation. With citizens from 190 countries, the UAE’s cosmopolitan outlook enriched Emiratis and harnessed global talent for its development.
Global Generosity: Remittances and Economic Impact
Annually sending around 44 billion in remittances to countries worldwide, the UAE significantly contributes to the economies of the Global South. In 2021, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines were the top five recipients, with India alone receiving half of the remittances. These financial contributions are crucial in supporting families and economies in recipient nations.
Environmental Stewardship and Global Finance Hub
Recognizing its responsibility as an oil-producing country, the UAE embraced sustainability and environmentally friendly energy policies ahead of its counterparts. In 2023, the UAE will chair COP28, highlighting its commitment to addressing climate change. Additionally, the UAE has emerged as a global financial hub, with foreign direct investment inflows surpassing $23 billion in 2022.
Innovation and Technology: Early Investments
Investing early and heavily in innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology, the UAE has positioned itself as a global leader. Policies such as Vision 2021, National Advanced Sciences Agenda 2031, and Open Labs underscore the nation’s commitment to research and innovation in science and technology.
Religious Inclusion: A Model for the Region
Critics notwithstanding, the UAE has become a model for religious inclusion in the region. Implementing laws to protect religious freedom and fostering interfaith understanding, the UAE is home to 40 churches and 700 ministries. Collaborating with UNESCO to restore Christian churches in Iraq in 2019 reflects the nation’s commitment to preserving diverse cultural heritage.
A Tapestry of Tolerance and Pragmatism
The UAE’s success, technological advancements, and growing international influence are the fruits of a culture of tolerance cultivated by its leaders. Preferring pragmatism over hardline ideologies, the UAE is a testament to visionary leadership, economic prosperity, and global collaboration. As it celebrates Founding Day, the UAE’s journey from dunes to international success inspires nations worldwide.
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