Below is the text of the statement made by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on the occasion of the 40th national day anniversary:
Peace be upon you all, on the second of December each year, we reflect on the extent of our perseverance to build our country and the determination of those who have pledged to build and support its structure. This year's anniversary is special in that it concludes four decades in the lifetime of our beloved country, four decades of patience, struggle and hard work that earned the UAE the high status it enjoys today and made it an example to follow and a symbol for those who aspire for the progress and prosperity of their countries.
The story of the past forty years has been about the unity of this country. The United Arab Emirates has taken a clear path towards going the extra mile and utilising time as best it can, a reflection of the wise leadership's vision of reinforcing the role of the Federal Government through effective legislations and integrated policies of planning and execution, of underpinning effective coordination and integration between the Federal Government and the local governments and of focusing on the methodologies of strategic planning and continuous development of performance and output, without sacrificing the efficient management of government resources.
One of the unique features of the UAE's experience is that, in addition to its wider scope, it is geared towards humanitarian causes. In four decades of national and distinctive, creative efforts, our federation has emerged as a strong, modern nation that values the spirit of justice, respects and protects human rights and preserves its original Arab and Islamic value system. This faith has been reflected into making continuous efforts to spread a culture that is open to the other, a nation keen on nurturing friendly relations with other nations, a nation that respects the other's rights to live with dignity and safely build their own nations and societies.
Today, our federation has proven its high performance and strong determination to keep abreast of the modern age by utilizing all new ventures in science and creative thinking, which has made it a living example of progress and advancement not only in our Arab world and the region but also in the whole world, without risking our unique traditions.
This is our beloved United Arab Emirates. We have lived under the flag of the federation, grown up under these skies and progressed on this land to reach the prosperous status we enjoy today. Congratulations to all of us on this 40th anniversary of the National Day, congratulations to the people who have built this nation that was founded by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his esteemed brothers, the rulers of the UAE. Through your dedication and achievements, you have proven your worthiness of the responsibility of building this federation on solid grounds.
On this anniversary, we have a nation that still follows the footsteps of the founding fathers in building our country. Ever since President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan took charge of leading the Federation, he has followed the footsteps of the late father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, embodying the values of nobleness, honesty and trustworthiness in the interest of our country's prosperity and stability.
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa firmly believed that "Our aspirations for our nation know no boundaries. Our ambitions for our citizens have no limits. Our hopes for the future are being realised as we start a new era that reflects the national visions for the next phase of development in line with the principles that we announced regarding our covenant and road map. It is a new phase based on the principle of ‘Shura' and the rule of the law with the approach of defining responsibilities and delegating authorities and liabilities and with the purpose of achieving justice and empowering all of our citizens to participate in building our future effectively and positively".
The UAE leadership firmly believes that citizens are the target and the tool of the development process. Therefore, the UAE leadership will stay focused on the goal of human development. We have been keen to build the individual, the building block in our society. We laid out ambitious plans and developed extensive programs to better equip our citizens with the latest technological tools in order to help them take part in building our nation as creative, productive and genuine participants. We have also been concerned about people with special needs, taking every effort to help them be active participants in the overall development quest.
The forty-year journey of our blessed federation has demonstrated that citizens are an important element in the progress of the nation and will always remain a partner in building its future in support of the development march of the UAE.
In this regard, the UAE has come a long way in terms of human development, as it advanced to the 30th position among 169 countries covered by the 2011 Human Development Report released by the United Nations. The UAE also ranked first among all Arab states.
The 40th anniversary of our National Day is an occasion to celebrate the comprehensive renaissance of our homeland with all of its great benefits for citizens and residents alike. The economy is just one of the pillars of development. The comprehensive strategic vision of the UAE emphasized the importance of reinforcing our national economy, supporting non-oil exports within the framework of economic diversification, thus preparing for our national commodities to reach the global market, using various international platforms to better promote investment opportunities in all sectors of the local markets, helping national companies to establish partnerships and strategic alliances with international companies in order to invest in the UAE, and protecting our national investments abroad.
This impressive economic development is well documented in international reports which testify to the continuous progress of our nation and its growing economic capabilities.
This year, the second of December comes as we embark on a journey towards full empowerment that places a high importance on keeping up the support for public participation, reinforcing the State of the Law, empowering our citizens to take part in making decisions on the public policy of the UAE, and strengthening the relationship between citizens and public organizations, which has been an important focus of the decision-making process. From this perspective, the recent elections of the Federal National Council came to provide our citizens with the opportunity of greater participation in the electoral process as a first step towards developing the FNC and reinforcing its role and status in our political system.
The constitutional amendment on extending the term of office for FNC members to four years further confirms that the empowerment phase is not just a general outlook but actual steps and programs that are being applied in reality to allow for a greater public participation and support our parliamentary experience.
That said, we consider the FNC elections to be an ideal opportunity and a historic step towards expanding our parliamentary role and national efforts for more solid constitutional and legislative structures. The ‘Shura' principle, which has been a constant pillar of the UAE society since its early history, has developed in terms of mechanisms and implications in response to the changes that have come over our society.
Right from the start, we understood the significant role of women in national development efforts and we therefore worked on establishing a social culture that supports the participation of women in public affairs. The UAE woman's achievements in the federation, along with her strong presence in public life, have been impressive and we consider them to be a source of pride. We do value the successes that the UAE woman has achieved in all of the positions and roles she has taken, outnumbering men in some sectors.
Indeed, this reflects a mature response to the UAE's efforts in empowering women and utilizing their potential as a real partner in the process of development and sustainable development plans. Therefore, it is a natural consequence that the UAE has occupied initial positions in international reports concerned with women empowerment. The UAE ranked first in bridging the gender gap' in the fields of health, education and employment, according to the Human Development Report issued by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The government has sought to implant the values of voluntary work and social solidarity in the minds of the youths to complement the role of the government in serving the community based on mutual aid and charity work among community members. Thus, the government launched social and philanthropic initiatives to preserve such values and build generations with high aspirations and clear, noble goals by enabling Emiratis to take their role in society and get involved in social voluntary work to improve their insight in life through their positive participation in society.
As we rely on education to build a highly-qualified human capital, we have taken huge strides and made significant achievements in the field of education. The government has tapped on all resources to spread the culture of education and has modernised curricula to ensure a high quality educational output.
Efforts have been taken in the field of higher education to meet the demands of the job market, therefore many scientific research and technological centers were established. The government has constantly called for developing educational plans and programs according to international standards, without losing the constants of our national identity. With the aim of keeping abreast of technological advances, the government has sought to Emiratise the more advanced technologies through concentrating on the high-tech industry such as renewable energy, nuclear power, genetic engineering, electronic and aviation engineering and space science among others.
Education has always been a major concern for the government, which led to laying out a 20-year plan to take it to standard levels conforming to the latest in technology and science. The plan focusses on improving students results, providing an appropriate school environment, developing the national spirit, developing the curricula, improving teachers' performance, providing equipment and other requirements for schools, standardizing assessment criteria, integrating students with special needs into mainstream schools, achieving a high-quality public and private education, involving parents in the educational process, and building a capable UAE workforce in the educational field.
In line with supporting the role of service sectors, a substantial progress has been made. The government considered healthcare to be a top priority, in line with the national and strategic development plans that focus on improving the level of medical services. The UAE has witnessed increasing developments and growth in all aspects of the healthcare sector, including securing highly qualified staff, and providing state-of-the-art equipment and a high level of healthcare service. The government has been keen on developing a highly qualified national workforce and healthcare services according to international standards. We are still looking forward to more support and development in this sector and improving its output for citizens and residents alike.
During the past four decades, we have further reinforced our efficient armed forces, being one of the most important tools for protecting our national security and preserving our achievements. We have concentrated on developing our forces and reinforcing their defense capabilities through advanced training and programs so as to make them better equipped to carry out their missions of defending our borders as well as take part in international peace efforts under the umbrella of the United Nations in support of moral values and just causes. In dealing with international issues, the UAE has been a firm believer in the culture of dialogue, peaceful coexistence, preserving international peace and security and renouncing all forms of violence, believing that security is unattainable away from the world's nations.
The high level of security and stability in our country is a natural consequence of our sound understanding of the security sector, as the various police departments are shouldering many responsibilities in order to preserve our national security, avoid potential risks and ensure safety and stability for our people. The Internal Security and Police forces have made great achievements in terms of establishing modern police forces capable of providing security for all the population and continuing to develop the national workforce and equipping it with the latest tools in the world of security, crime control and counter-terrorism efforts.
Just like the comprehensive development process has made big leaps on the domestic level, the UAE's foreign policy and the stands it has taken from international affairs during the last forty years are also a source of great pride. The government has been keen to take an active and positive role in the issues and challenges facing the Gulf region and to underpin the position of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) in line with its efforts to support Arab cooperation and address the concerns of the Arab nations. This position of the government is based on its conviction that Arab nations should unite in order to address their mutual destiny challenges, renounce their disagreements, support Arab solidarity, and make greater efforts to underpin trust and communication channels among Arab countries, emphasising the importance of resolving all conflicts among them peacefully.
On the international level, the UAE foreign policy has been consistent with international changes in its regional and international activities. The UAE diplomacy has made many successes while maintaining the same constants that were adopted when the federation was established. This, coupled with an open and moderate policy towards neighboring countries as well as the international community, has had a great impact on the level of international relations.
The UAE has kept its commitments towards international conventions and agreements, dealt wisely and discreetly with foreign affairs, contributed to preserving peace, security and stability and renounced aggression and all forms of terrorism. Our foreign policy reflected our steadfast belief in achieving justice in the relations among world countries, including the policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, resolving conflicts peacefully, supporting international organisations and entities, and contributing to humanitarian relief efforts in disaster-stricken regions to name but few of the UAE foreign policy constants.
The aid provided by the UAE has played a key role in achieving comprehensive and sustainable development in the recipient countries through financing long-term humanitarian and development projects, in addition to other international humanitarian and development initiatives carried out in coordination with the United Nations agencies and other international partners in various countries.
As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of establishing our Federation and the fruits of our hard work, we reaffirm that we shall keep our covenant towards our nation and its leader and continue our march for a brighter future for the coming generations. We pledge to God, to our Leader and to our homeland that we shall make any sacrifice and spare no effort for moving ahead with our country and preserving the high status that the UAE has reached today.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt congratulations to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; his brother, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and to their brothers, members of the Supreme Council, Their Highnesses the Rulers of Emirates; and to our loyal, sincere UAE people, whom we call on to continue their work for the best of our Federation. We pray to the Almighty God to grant our beloved homeland more progress and development and fulfill the aspirations and hopes of our dear UAE citizens.
Peace be upon you all.