Muscat, Dec 4 - The United Arab Emirates celebrated its 47th National Day, forging ahead with wisdom and perseverance, following in the footsteps of its founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, under the leadership of the President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan and rulers of all the emirates.
The 47th National Day coincides with the birth centenary of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan sl Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed dubbed 2018 the “Year of Zayed”. The late Sheikh Zayed was renowned for his wisdom and vision, his role and his policies in building the country, achieving development, strengthening its economy and national security, and leading it on the path towards a prosperous future.
The values of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan laid the foundations of modern cultural and developmental renaissance in the country. Inspired by these values, the wise leaders of the country took to building a bright future for the UAE, strengthening its stance among the countries of the region and the world, turning it into an oasis of peace and political stability, economic and social development, and tolerance.
The UAE has championed the values of tolerance and multiculturalism, rejecting discrimination and hatred by adopting nationwide programmes in partnership with various local, regional and international bodies. Today, the UAE forges ahead, a model of tolerance and acceptance, with more than 200 nationalities living in harmony as their second home.
World’s top foreign aid donor
The vision of Sheikh Zayed was founded on the need to build an integrated economy in successive consecutive times. It was brought to life as the country succeeded in building and developing a buzzing and prosperous business environment that is currently attractive for foreign direct investment. The UAE ranked first among Arab countries in 2017 for its ability to attract foreign direct investment, which established its position as a strategic trade hub that provides foreign investors access to regional markets, as well as the freedom to transfer funds and profits, in addition an effective judiciary system and legislation, neutral courts, laws and legislation that protects foreign capital, and low customs tariffs that range between 0 and 5 per cent on all goods.
Sheikh Zayed’s vision was an inspiration for the foreign policy of the UAE, which committed itself to building bridges of friendship, work and cooperation with other nations. Today, the UAE continues to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which represent a roadmap or a specific path for building a better and more sustainable tomorrow for the world and future generations. The country continues to devote itself to addressing major global challenges, especially those related to poverty eradication, environmental protection, climate change, the establishment of justice and peace, supporting and promoting global progress.
For the fifth consecutive year, the UAE ranked first as the largest international donor of Official Development Aid (ODA) relative to gross national income (GNI). The country spent 1.31 per cent of its GNI on foreign developmental aid in 2017, which is nearly twice the global target of 0.7 per cent set by the United Nations as a global standard to measure the efforts of donor countries.
The UAE has adopted a powerful stance in empowering women, setting new standards based on a unique model drawn from the vision of the founding father. This approach perpetuates in the current leadership’s vision for the future, whereby women stand as active partners and contributors in the country’s development process and play a vital role in raising future generations.
The UAE Constitution guarantees equal rights for women and men. In December 2014, the UAE Cabinet adopted a decision imposing the appointment of women on the boards of directors of all institutions and government agencies, setting the proportion of female representation at 15 per cent in government institutions. Nine women sit on the Federal National Council for the 16th legislature, representing 22.5 per cent of 40 members. Furthermore, women make up 27 per cent of the new Cabinet formed in 2016 which includes nine women ministers, one of whom is the youngest minister appointed to Cabinet (23 years).
Women account for 30 per cent of positions in the diplomatic corps. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has 234 women employees in 2017, including ambassadors and diplomats representing the UAE abroad.
Moreover, the UAE has made remarkable progress in reducing gender disparities in girls’ education in schools and higher education, with more than 70 per cent of girls graduating from universities. In business, women have set themselves as partners, making up 46.6 per cent of the total workforce, holding 66 per cent of the jobs of the public sector.
UAE passport strongest
One of the most salient indicators of the success of UAE diplomacy is the strength of the UAE passport, which in recent years has achieved consecutive leaps. In 2018, it ranked first in the world according to the World Passport Index, reaching 167 countries visa-free.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has launched the Passport Power initiative that aims to place the Emirati passport on the list of the five most important passports in the world by 2021, upon the directives of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.