UAE marks 42nd National Day as Union gets more competitive and dynamic

Emirates occupies prominent status on map of most progressive, prosperous and stable countries in the world

On December 2, 2013, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) celebrates its 42nd National Day and over the years since its founding, it has accomplished, on the local level, high rates of sustainable development and achieved happiness, satisfaction and welfare for its citizens.

Video: National Day celebration pictures

At regional and international levels, the UAE occupies a prominent pioneer status on the map of the most progressive, prosperous and stable countries in the world, according to indicators from the Global Competitiveness Report for the World Economic Forum (Davos), for the year 2013-2014.

The great construction phase of the Emirates’ renaissance began like a miracle led by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of its regeneration, with wisdom, patience, professionalism and generosity in giving, dedication and sincerity in work, who dedicated himself and all the means available to achieve progress for the country, and to provide a decent life and pride for its citizens, with sincere cooperation and strong determination from his brothers, the founding pioneers.

That initial phase was launched almost from scratch, and it included the implementation of development programmes and projects affecting all walks of life. It was represented by different infrastructure projects and basic service supplies such as electricity, water, roads, hospitals, schools, airports, ports, transportation, housing construction and many other projects which have supported the march of progress and prosperity across the U.A.E.

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, recalled in his speech on the 41st anniversary of National Day on the 2nd of December 2012, of whom he said, "They laid down the foundations of a state, which we are proud to belonging to and defend."

Sheikh Khalifa re-affirmed his keenness to follow the legacy of the founding fathers, stressing that this approach is based on justice, which itself is the basis of governance, and the rule of law. Human dignity, achieving social justice and providing a decent life are the pillars of society and fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution and protected by an independent and fair judiciary.

The President called for more effort to strengthen the Federal march, stressing that the protection of the Union is a national aim required from all of us, with an awareness of unity and coherence to keep our country strong among peoples and nations.

The Federal march has continued under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, who, with his wise vision and leadership experience, launched an empowerment stage to accomplish more gains and achievements and develop performance mechanisms in accordance with modern scientific principles and strategies reaching to excellence, leadership and creativity in achieving even more gains in various areas and attain more prosperity for the homeland and its citizens.

The Political system

The United Arab Emirates is one of the most successful union experiments, establishing its roots over more than four decades, and its system is characterised by its political, economic and social stability, as a natural result of harmony between the political leadership, and the cohesion and mutual trust and loyalty between them and their citizens.

The political system in the U.A.E. consists of a set of Federal institutions. At the top of them, there is the Supreme Council of the Union, which represents the supreme authority in the country and consists of Their Highnesses the Rulers of the seven Emirates. This is followed by the Cabinet, which represents the executive authority, the Federal National Council (FNC), that represents legislative and regulatory authority, and the judiciary, which has full independence in accordance with the Constitution.

Within the framework of its commitment to meet the challenges and requirements of the new millennium, the United Arab Emirates adopted a new approach to executive performance based on specific work strategies with clear goals and objectives.

In this context, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan launched new strategies to enhance plans and programmes of political empowerment, particularly future strategy, setting its goals in the mobilisation of resources and energies, its approach of cooperation and coordination between all  that is federal and local, as well as updating the decision-making mechanisms and raising the efficiency  of government entities and their effectiveness.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled the second round of federal government strategy from 2011 till 2013.

This strategy consists of seven general principles and seven priorities, with strategic potentials focusing on key areas of government.

The strategy’s top priority is to provide the highest levels of prosperity and a decent life for citizens. This is to be achieved by up-grading the education and health-care systems, focusing on social development, and the improvement of government services so as to enhance the UAE’s stature worldwide.

In 2007, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the first strategy of the UAE’s government, which documents, for the first time, institutional government action, and is working to develop and improve executive performance on a scientific basis. The strategy identified its objectives to achieve sustainable and balanced development and to ensure prosperity for citizens, and the establishment of a new phase of government action kept pace with economic changes,  focusing on the best practices in order to achieve prosperity for the nation on one hand,  and reinforce the status of the state, regionally and globally, on the other.

The strategy also aims to consolidate the Federal march and give a strong push for federal action among the emirates of the state, working to improve the social development sector, which includes education, health, housing, social welfare, culture and youth, population and workforce  and community development.

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has announced the UAE’s National Historic Charter for the year 2021, coinciding with the country's golden jubilee anniversary, under the theme: "We want to be one of the best countries in the world."

Sheikh Mohammed specified four main components of the national charter: firstly, ambitious confident people, who stick to their heritage, secondly, a strong union with a common destiny, thirdly, a competitive economy led by U.A.E. nationals characterised with innovation and knowledge, and fourthly, high quality of life endowed with a sustainable environment.

The UAE Government in its approach and its executive performance, made an absolute priority of improving education, health and housing services, human resources development and the development of remote areas across the country.

He underlined the significance of the charter, which embodies the UAE’s future vision until the year 2021, in which the country will celebrate the golden jubilee of the union. "The union proceeds in the footsteps of its founding fathers in the light of their strong determination and extrapolation", Sheikh Mohammed said, adding that U.A.E. nationals are now "reaping the fruits of our speedy economic growth."

On September 11, 2011, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid addressed the Cabinet stating that education and Emiratisation are two key priorities in the work of the government. They also represent a national responsibility that calls for synergizing and integrating all national initiatives for achieving the aspirations of the people of the U.A.E. and ensuring their welfare and a decent life.

The cabinet approved the UAE's education agenda until 2020 along with the three-year strategy of the National Human Resources Development and Employment Authority (TANMIA) for 2011-2013.

Achievements of the Cabinet

During 2012, the decisions and deliberations of the cabinet reflected the strategic visions of the government’s policies and their quest for the UAE to be (number one) in global competitiveness.

More than 500 Cabinet decisions were taken during the year 2012, including those in 13 key sectors such as economic development, infrastructure and urban development, government development, policies, legislation and conventions, environment and energy, justice and security, media, foreign policies and other, with an average of 18 decisions made in each session.

The Cabinet, during its session, reviewed the most important decisions that were issued in the year 2012, these concerned the most important federal agencies which refer their legislation to the, in addition to important government policies approved by the council and the decisions associated with them.

In this regard, the Cabinet discussed a set of analytical results for the performance report, to contributing to the development and upgrading the efficiency of performance in the year 2013.

On February 27, 2012, the Cabinet also approved the Federal e-government plan for the year 2014, aiming at raising the level of electronic transformation in government services and establishing an advanced electronic infrastructure, necessitating the provision of appropriate legislative, organisational and legal infrastructure to provide advanced electronic services.
 
Diplomatic Relations

The U.A.E. has standing diplomatic relations with around 190 countries in six continents. It has 68 embassies, nine consulates and six permanent missions overseas. In the U.A.E., there are 99 foreign embassies, 75 consulates and 16 bureaus for international and regional organisations.

Upon the establishment of the U.A.E. Federation in 1971, only the United States, the United Kingdom and Pakistan had embassies in the U.A.E.

U.A.E. and the Gulf Cooperation Council

In his speech on the 41st National Day, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan re-affirmed that the U.A.E.'s ties with the other Gulf countries represented a strong commitment and the top priority of its foreign policy beyond the limits of history and geography. He further affirmed that these relations are firmly-established and crucial and that the U.A.E. works on further strengthening them through coordination, integration and rapprochement for the good of the interests of the regional counties and their peoples.

On 12th December 2012, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister, affirmed that the Gulf represents a main link in the U.A.E.'s political, economic and security system, and that its prosperity would benefit the peoples of the Gulf. He also affirmed that cooperation and coordination represented a main guide for the U.A.E.'s foreign policy as integration between brothers is a U.A.E. official and popular requirement. 

In 2012, nationals of other member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council were allowed to trade shares in 80 joint-stock companies, or 74.8 percent of the companies listed within the U.A.E. Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA).

The number of GCC investors in the U.A.E. stock market reached 126,684, the majority of whom are Saudis. According to a report by the Ministry of Finance earlier this year, the volume of investments by GCC nationals in the U.A.E. stock market reached AED7.38 billion.

Greater and Lesser Tunbs, Abu Musa islands

Based on its approach founded on the principles of peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as on its interest in keeping tensions away from the region, strengthening confidence-building measures and international legitimacy, the U.A.E. continues  its efforts to regain sovereignty on the three islands of Abu Musa, and Greater and Lesser Tunbs, which were occupied by Iran on the eve of the establishment of the U.A.E. Federation on 2nd December, 1971. It seeks to remedy the situation either through direct, serious negotiations or by referral to the International Court of Justice.  

On 22nd September 2012, the U.A.E. Foreign Minister, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in a statement before the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said he regretted the continued Iranian occupation of the U.A.E. three islands. He stressed that security and stability in the Gulf region represented a high priority in the U.A.E.'s  balanced foreign policy, which derives its principles from the Charter of the United Nations and the provisions of international law, especially those calling for peaceful coexistence, confidence-building, good neighborliness, mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and resolving conflicts and disputes through peaceful means. 

Sheikh Abdullah demanded the restoration of the U.A.E.'s full sovereignty over these islands. He emphasised that all actions and measures taken by the occupying Iranian authorities are illegitimate, and are contrary to international law and to universal norms and values. 

He called upon the international community to urge Iran to respond to the repeated peaceful, sincere calls of the U.A.E. for a just settlement of this issue, either through direct, serious negotiations or by referral to the International Court of Justice to settle this dispute in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the provisions of international law.  "We hope the Iranian Government will deal with this sensitive and important issue in a positive and just manner, in order to establish good neighborly relations, build bridges of cooperation, preserve the common interests between our two countries, and strengthen security and stability in the region as a whole."

The U.A.E.'s peaceful approach to the restoration of its sovereignty on its three islands is supported by the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab League, the Arab Inter-parliamentary Union, The GCC Parliamentary Union and a number of countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, who all voiced full solidarity with, and full support for the U.A.E.'s right to sovereignty over its three Islands and called upon Iran to end its occupation of these islands and to respond to repeated peaceful and sincere calls of the U.A.E. for a just settlement of this issue.

On 25th December, 2012, the 33rd GCC Supreme Council, in the final communique of its summit (The Sakhir Summit) in Bahrain, reiterated its firm stance against, and rejection of the Iranian occupation of the U.A.E.'s three Islands.

The GCC Supreme Council asserted the right of the U.A.E. to supremacy on the three islands and regional territorial waters, airspace and continental cliff, as well as the free economic zone, which form an integral and inseparable part of the U.A.E.

The GCC Supreme Council regretted the fact that no positive results could be made through communications with Iran so as to contribute to boosting the security and stability of the region. It said that any acts or practices by Iran on the three islands will be deemed null and void and should not entail any change in the legal and historic status of the islands which confirm the U.A.E.'s right to sovereignty of its three Islands.

The Supreme Council decided to continue to consider all peaceful means that could lead to reinstating the right of the U.A.E. to its three islands, and urged Iran to respond to the U.A.E.'s efforts to solve the issue through direct negotiations or resort to the International Court of Justice.

U.A.E. Foreign Aid

The U.A.E. remains at the forefront of international humanitarian work and development aid donating. This role, well-recognised by the United Nations, made the U.A.E. a major hub for the organisation's humanitarian efforts and operations worldwide. 

On 28th September 2012, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, U.A.E. Foreign Minister, met with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, in New York. During the meeting, Ban Ki-Moon thanked the United Arab Emirates for its generous support offered to programmes and development activities affiliated to the UN. He also expressed his desire for future successes for cooperation between the U.A.E. and the UN on humanitarian operations in affected areas.

On 18th April, 2012, a United Nations Refugee Agency official hailed the U.A.E.'s contribution to efforts to protect human dignity and improve the humanitarian conditions of refugees around the world.

May Kadkoy, Protection Assistant High Commissioner, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), described the U.A.E.'s humanitarian initiatives as "courageous and noble."

Last year, the U.A.E. was ranked as the world's 16th most generous donor, according to a report by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD-DAC) issued in April 2013.

Between its establishment on 2nd December 1971 and 2010, the U.A.E. offered more than US$163 billion in foreign aid, grants and loans to the world. In 2011 and 2012, the U.A.E. provided US$2.11 billion and US$1.59 billion, respectively, to a total of 137 countries and regions around the world – donated through 43 national donor organisations and humanitarian agencies, twenty two of which were federal government institutions.

The figures demonstrate how principles are translated by the U.A.E. into action in regions affected by natural disasters and conflicts, as well as in countries that lack sufficient infrastructure. In addition, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) committed AED5.59 billion in aid for development projects overseas. By the end of the first half of 2013, ADFD provided AED58.4 billion in funds for 349 projects in 62 countries, including Arab, Middle Eastern, African and Asian countries.

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, walking in the footsteps of the founding father of the U.A.E., the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, said, "Humanitarian diplomacy is one of the main pillars of our foreign policy, and the country will continue to support international efforts to respond to disasters and answer the call for relief."

"The U.A.E. works hard to enhance and coordinate relief and humanitarian and development programmes for developing countries, in addition to its contributions to international peace-keeping, reconstruction efforts and relief and emergency humanitarian operations at times of crisis, thus emphasising its role in preserving international peace and security,"  added His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.

The Red Crescent Authority (RCA), between 1983 and 2013, carried out overseas humanitarian operations valued at  AED8 billion in 100 countries. The Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, from its inception in 1992 to 2013, spent over US$460 million on different humanitarian programmes in the U.A.E and overseas.

The U.A.E. Programme to Assist Pakistan, launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has spent over US$113 million on development projects in Pakistan.

The campaign to Clothe One Million Underprivileged Children around the world was launched by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The initiative, which concluded on 19th Ramadan this year, when the U.A.E. marked Zayed Humanitarian Day and the 9th anniversary of the death of the founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, raised funds for clothing millions of children around the world.

Another outstanding initiative was launched by His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, for the global eradication of polio by 2018. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed pledged a donation of US$120 million in support of this initiative.
 
UAE Foreign policy

The U.A.E.'s foreign policy, established by the founding President of the Federation, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is characterized by wisdom, balance and moderation, and is based on the solid strategic foundations represented by commitment to the Charter of the United Nations, respect for International Law and charters, and the establishment of relations with all countries based on mutual respect, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states and the pursuit, wherever possible, of peaceful resolutions of disputes; as well as standing up for just causes and supporting international security and stability.

The U.A.E.'s diplomacy has been well received around the world and produced strategic political, economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, educational and healthy partnerships with many countries in different continents of the world. This very much enhanced the nation’s outstanding international status.

In recent years, the U.A.E.’s foreign policy featured farsightedness and active progress, both regionally and internationally, to build an extensive network of common interests with the rest of the world, and to work towards development, exchange of expertise, technology transfer and other mechanisms which serve national development and economy through attracting foreign direct investments and bolstering the country's own national investments overseas.

U.A.E. diplomacy made intensive efforts and took active measures to contain tensions, crises and disputes in the region and beyond. It actively sought to enhance its direct and indirect humanitarian, relief, development and economic aid programmes for developing countries, those which suffered conflicts or natural disasters in particular.

It also contributed to a number of peacekeeping missions and to the protection of civilians and reconstruction efforts launched after conflicts were over.  This reflects the U.A.E.’s outstanding partnerships with a number of involved parties and its dedication to achieve the noble goals of  preserving international security, peace and stability.

In this context, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan received a phone call from UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on 12th January 2013, during which they exchanged views and discussed regional and international developments as well as matters of common concern.

In his speech on 1st December 2012 on the occasion of the 41st National Day, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa affirmed that the successes achieved through U.A.E. foreign policy represents another of the country’s major achievements.

In 2009, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa expressed his satisfaction at the positive presence of U.A.E. diplomacy in regional and international spheres in defence of national interests and achievements, as well as of just causes, namely the Palestinian cause, the rights of Palestinians to have their rights restored and to have their own state, and the initiatives aimed at establishing regional and international peace, security and stability.

The year 2013 saw intensive diplomatic moves by the U.A.E. when His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, made high-profile regional and international visits which reflected the positive presence and leadership of the U.A.E. amid serious and escalating international developments. These include his historic visits to Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, U.K., U.S.A, Russia, France, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. During these visits, His Highness the Crown Prince and the leaders of relevant countries discussed the latest regional and international developments, matters of common concern, as well as ways of cementing bilateral relations and cooperation in the spheres of development, join investments and the expansion of cooperation with the relevant countries.

The UAE and UN

On 25th September, 2013, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, U.A.E. Foreign Minister, met Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, at the international organisation’s headquarters in New York.

At the meeting, H.H Sheikh Abdullah and Ban Ki-Moon discussed ways of enhancing cooperation between the U.A.E. and the United Nations and exchanged views on international and regional issues on the agenda of the 68th UN General Assembly. They also exchanged views on important regional and international issues, including the current developments in Syria and Egypt, and the situation in the Middle East in general, including developments of the then-resumed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the Iranian nuclear programme, ways of benefiting from renewable energy, as well as other issues of common concern.

The Secretary-General briefed Sheikh Abdullah on the priorities of the United Nations in the next phase, and its views on the developments in Egypt and the Syrian crisis, including the issue of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.

Ban Ki-Moon also briefed Sheikh Abdullah on international efforts to prepare for convening the Geneva-2 conference on Syria.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah affirmed the U.A.E.'s firm support for UN efforts to find a solution to the Syrian crisis and to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, as well as the efforts the UN is making in support for peace negotiations. He reiterated the U.A.E.'s commitment to continue its support for the UN's political and humanitarian efforts to restore stability to Syria and the region as a whole, as well as to enhance humanitarian aid and promote the principles of human rights, tolerance, inter-cultural dialogue, counter-piracy and counter-terrorism actions and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

On the margins of the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon received the credentials of Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, the new Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations. At the end of the credentials ceremony, the Secretary-General discussed with Ambassador Nusseibeh aspects of joint cooperation between the United Nations and the U.A.E. and ways of promoting them in different areas. He said that he viewed the assignment of Nusseibeh as a reflection of the increasingly prominent role played by Emirati women in U.A.E. society.

He also commended the U.A.E.'s efforts at international and regional levels, especially in the areas of peace and security, development and renewable energy, humanitarian assistance and the empowerment of women.

Speaking on the occasion, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said, "We are delighted Ambassador Nusseibeh is now representing the U.A.E. at the United Nations. The U.A.E. has long played an active role in the international community and will continue to play such a role. We are looking forward to strengthening our partnership with the organization at this critical juncture."

In his speech before the 68th UN General Assembly, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah spoke about the regional and international developments, in Syria and Egypt in particular. He said, "The U.A.E. recognises the suffering of the Arab region from interference in its internal affairs by others and the ensuing threats to national statehood, and warns against interference in the internal affairs of Egypt, and calls for refraining from disrupting its march towards stability and democracy."

He took this opportunity to urge the international community to support Egypt at this critical stage and back up the sincere efforts of its interim government in laying the foundations of stability, development and civilian constitutional rule.

In this context, the U.A.E., on directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, continues to provide economic and political support for Egypt to enable it to implement the planned roadmap and transition into the future. This support was represented by an exchange of high-level visits, the last of which was by His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

This was followed by visits to the U.A.E. by Egypt's President, Adly Mansour, and Prime Minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, during which the U.A.E. signed an aid agreement with Egypt bringing the amount of financial support to US$4.9 billion for Egypt's development projects and efforts to advance Egyptian's standard of living.

In August of this year, H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, donated US$2 million for restoration work on the Faculty of Engineering of Cairo University which was severely damaged by fire during the dispersion of the sit-in in Al Nahda Square. This was one in a series of initiatives taken by Sheikh Sultan in support of Egypt and its people during the current crisis. Sheikh Sultan also gave orders for the building of mosques in villages in the North Sinai town of Rafah. Each of the mosques will be named after one of the 25 Egyptian soldiers who were killed in a terrorist attack.

The Ruler of Sharjah also gave directives for the building of modern houses for the residents of eighteen slums in Giza City. Upon completion, the ownership of the new houses will be transferred to residents of run-down areas.

Social and Economic Development

The U.A.E. has achieved remarkable success in economic prosperity and social welfare that has earned the country a prominent international standing, further entrenching its stature as an important participant in the world economic and trade landscape.

Within a span of four decades, the U.A.E. has undergone an impressive transformation from a small desert economy depending on pearl trading and fishing to an "oasis of opportunity" and an entrepreneurial success story with world-class infrastructure, and with booming economic sectors such as real estate and construction, tourism and hospitality, mass communications, shipping and logistics, retail and finance. The U.A.E.’s economic miracle epitomises the success of an innovative state-led capitalist growth model.

The leadership has improved education (effectively eliminating illiteracy), advanced health care and embraced change as the U.A.E. modernises, in a manner consistent with its history and cultural values.

The U.A.E. is an even happier place than it was last year. It remains the happiest country in the Arab world and is now 14th worldwide, three places higher than last year, according to the second UN-commissioned World Happiness Report.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said the aim was to progress year by year. "It's not surprising to achieve this, for the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is mostly concerned about the wellbeing and happiness of our people," Sheikh Mohammed said.

"Success is measured by achieving people's happiness and satisfaction, and all our projects and laws are there to serve this purpose." "What we have already achieved is only the first stage, which will be followed by more work and achievements in order to become one of the world's best countries, God willing."

The Emirates Competitiveness Council (ECC) is targeting a place in the top 10 of the World Happiness Report, an annual index comparing the well-being of people in various countries according to factors ranging from income to life expectancy.

"When you speak to an investor they will always ask questions like how safe is your country, what is the standard of living, are there good schools? These are important for their quality of life," said Abdullah Lootah, the Secretary General of the ECC, the federal agency whose remit includes helping to drive investment.

"Competitiveness rankings can be taken by officials as a third-party proof point that shows how the U.A.E. is performing."

"The U.A.E. has been a very peaceful part of the region and lives have been happier here than in other parts of the region," said John Helliwell, the co-author of the World Happiness Report. "One of the reasons for that probably is that there are higher levels of social connections, trust in government and each other, the police and generosity."

The U.A.E. is the eighth most competitive nation in the Global ompetitiveness Yearbook, 2013, a leap from 16th last year and 28th in 2011. It also ranked number one in the world in the areas of "Government Efficiency", "Social Cohesion" and "Attitudes and Values."

Additionally, the U.A.E. ranked fourth in Economic Performance, fifth in Employment and sixth in Management Practices.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said, "This accomplishment is the fruits of labour of thousands of teams, in both federal and local government departments across the entire U.A.E., and constitutes a very clear message to the world that the U.A.E. people will settle with nothing less than being number one."

Margareta Drzeniek, the World Economic Forum's lead economist, said that the ranking of the UAE reflected the fact that its economy was already more diversified. "We regard the U.A.E. now as an innovation economy," she added.

"Overall, the U.A.E.'s competitiveness reflects the high quality of its infrastructure, as well as its highly efficient good market. Strong macro-economic stability and some positive aspects of the country's institutions - such as an improving trust in politicians and high government efficiency - round up the list of competitive advantages," she said.

The President, Sheikh Khalifa, congratulated the country's Rulers and its people after the U.A.E. came top for Government Efficiency in this year's Global Competitiveness Yearbook.

In his congratulatory remarks, the President remembered the country's founding father, Sheikh Zayed.

He said: "We remember well, and we are grateful to the late Sheikh Zayed and his fellow founding fathers."

He added: "We salute the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed, and his government team on both local and federal levels, for the achievements made and for the motivation they provided to the masses inside and outside the U.A.E.

"They have proven that the welfare of the citizens of the country is the Government's ultimate goal. The achievement made by the U.A.E. in social cohesion is yet another example that we are on the right track on building the future."

The United Arab Emirates also moves up in the rankings to take second place in the region at 19th on the Global Competitiveness Index. The country has also been aggressive at adopting technologies and in particular using ICTs, which contributes to enhancing the country’s productivity.

Overall, the country’s competitiveness reflects the high quality of its infrastructure, where it ranks a solid 5th, as well as its highly efficient goods markets (4th). Strong macro-economic stability (7th) and some positive aspects of the country’s institutions such as strong public trust in politicians (3rd) and high government efficiency (9th) round up the list of competitive advantages. Going forward, putting the country on a more stable development path will require further investment to boost health and educational outcomes (49th on the health and primary education pillar).

The U.A.E. continued to lead the Arab region and is ranked 19th globally in the Global Enabling Trade Report 2012 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

It also figured among the top 10 nations in Efficiency of Import-Export Procedures as well as Physical Security in the report covering 132 countries.

The Enabling Trade Index assesses four key areas of performance, namely Market Access, Border Administration, Transport and Telecommunications Infrastructure and the Business Environment, and sub-indices within these broad areas.

The WEF report highlighted other strong areas of performance, reflecting the U.A.E.'s on-going commitment to trade, including Border Administration (11th globally), Transport and Communications Infrastructure (18th globally), and Business Environment (12th internationally). The U.A.E. tops the region in all these areas.

Within the report's sub-indices, the U.A.E. is ranked as follows: seventh in the world in terms of Efficiency of Import-Export Procedures in Border Administration; fifth in Physical Security in Business Environment category; and 26th in Availability and Use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology), all of which are leading positions in the region. The Emirates is also placed 16th in Regulatory Environment among all the countries covered in the report.

The World Trade Organization and many of its Member States that participated in the meetings of the second review of the trade policy of the U.A.E. in Geneva last March, have praised the U.A.E.'s policy of opening up its trade and economy. The WTO commended the country's efforts to facilitate trade and investment and minimise trade barriers such as customs procedures, fees and taxes. The latter has made the U.A.E. a global centre for various industrial and services sectors, bolstering the country's status in world trade.

Furthermore, the ideal environment provided by the U.A.E. government for foreign direct investments - characterised by the ease of establishing projects and businesses and the lack of taxation - have contributed significantly to the emergence of the U.A.E. as an important global trade hub.

According to World’s Bank "Doing Business 2013" report, the "doing business in U.A.E." ranking has moved seven spots up this year, the country's biggest jump in global ranking. The U.A.E. leaped from 33rd position last year to 26th  this year according to the World Bank report, making it the only country in the Middle East and North Africa region that had such position improvements in its global competitiveness ranking.

The report emphasized that the U.A.E. has made tremendous progress in business reforms, such as the ease of starting a business, getting electricity, paying fees as the main reasons to promote country in the global ranking.

The country continues to focus on improvements in the legal environment and continues to simplify government services.

Considering all the above, the highly developed infrastructure, clear legislation and low taxation in doing business, the U.A.E. is the attractive option to consider for local as well as for international business.

The U.A.E. became the only Arab country to be included in the Global Economics "Driven by Innovation" – the third and the most advanced stage of competitiveness in the Global Competitiveness Report 2012-13 released by the World Economic Forum.

The Global Competitiveness Report ranked the U.A.E. 24th out of 144 countries globally, an improvement of three ranking points from last year.

Classified as an innovation-driven economy, the U.A.E. is placed alongside countries such as the United States, Japan, Germany, Singapore, and has been classified as "innovation-driven" for seven consecutive years, the only Arab country with this distinction.

In the report, the U.A.E. ranked among the top 10 nations globally in the following pillars of the report: Infrastructure (8th), Macro-economic environment (7th), Goods Market Efficiency (5th) and Labour Market Efficiency (7th), and among the top 20 for Institutions (12th) and Business Sophistication (15th).

According to the Doing Business 2014 report released by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the U.A.E. has moved to number 4 globally in the "Trading Across Borders" category, up from its 5th rank in 2013.

The U.A.E. has retained its rank as the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region in the same category.

The United Arab Emirates has jumped three slots this year to number 23 in the world in the Ease of Doing Business Report 2014, out of 189 economies ranked for this year's report.

The U.A.E. topped the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 5 of the 10 parameters on which the Ease of Doing Business Report ranks and compares business regulations in 189 economies.

The U.A.E. is the best place in the world regarding ease of paying taxes, and fourth in getting electricity, registering property, and trading across borders, while it is the fifth best globally in terms of dealing with construction permits.

The U.A.E. was also ranked 20th globally among the top exporting countries in the world, according to the report of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2012, which pointed out that the U.A.E.'s exports in 2011 were more than US$ 285 billion out of the total world exports of US$18.2 trillion.

The U.A.E. boasts of having an open, free, dynamic and diversified economy which has catapulted the country to the ranks of advanced economies. The economy is based on strong, solid assets: world-class infrastructure, sustainable knowledge, development of resources,  ever-growing constructive ties and partnerships with other countries of the world.

The government is also seeking to get the private sector actively involved as a true partner in the nation-building process.

With its strategic geographic location as a gateway to the emerging MENA consumer markets, world-class infrastructure and facilities, business friendly and flexible legal framework, ease of doing business and attractive investment environment, the U.A.E. has become a safe, reliable lucrative destination for international companies, as well as for ambitious job-seekers. The U.A.E. has one of the world’s highest per capita income at AED 183,000 in 2013.

The non-oil economic growth in the U.A.E. is expected to strengthen further on the back of a broadening recovery in construction and real estate, and ongoing growth in tourism-oriented sectors, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Washington-based fund said medium-term growth and diversification prospects are promising for the U.A.E. as the country seeks to build on its successes in becoming a services hub for the wider region and recently announced plans for several megaprojects in real estate and tourism.

''Abu Dhabi continues to expand its hydrocarbon production capacity," the IMF added.

Foreign investment

The Ministry of Economy launched on 20th June, 2012, the U.A.E. Investment Map to promote the sustainable and balanced development of the country. The initiative will also contribute to GDP growth by stimulating the investment environment and attracting investment and technology that will drive the knowledge economy, in addition to reducing the dependence on oil by diversifying revenue streams.

The launching of the U.A.E. Investment Map is in line with the strategic directions of the Ministry for 2011-2013, to enhance the investment environment and the competitiveness of the national economy by targeting international markets and attracting large investment projects to the U.A.E..

The initiative will serve as an indicator to guide global investors and introduce them to the various investment opportunities across all sectors of the U.A.E. economy through a systematic and scientific approach.

The initiative is also part of the U.A.E. Vision 2021 to drive the development of a knowledge-based economy. To achieve the Vision, the Federal Government Strategy 2011 - 2013 has set out strategic directions, including the participation of U.A.E. nationals and developing their capabilities; increasing efficiency, flexibility and productivity in the labour market; supporting small and medium enterprises; developing and promoting entrepreneurship; strengthening the regulatory framework of key sectors; encouraging and supporting existing and new sectors; promoting export development and promotion of the country’s position in international trade; and encouraging innovation and Research and Development.

The investment initiative will provide an overview of the investment opportunities in each Emirate in health, agriculture, real estate, alternative energy, SMEs, services, industry, education, and finance, among others sectors. In the first phase, the initiative aims to target markets such as Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, Germany, India, China and South Korea.

The Map identified 14 areas for attracting investment, including the aluminum industry, automotive, aviation, information technology, telecommunications, financial services, electronics, engineering and industrial technology, healthcare, the petrochemical industry, education and knowledge industry, and the pharmaceutical industry.

During the past five years, the U.A.E. has attracted a total of AED 220 billion in Foreign Direct Investment. The U.A.E. was ranked second in the Arab world and 27th in the world in competitiveness as per the Global Competitiveness Report 2011/2012.

The U.A.E. is also among Top 30 nations for attracting FDI as per the UNCTAD World Investment Prospects Survey 2009-2011. The nation has had the highest growth in FDI flows in the Arab world over the past seven years, and ranks among top 15 countries listed as the best destinations for foreign direct investment.

The FDI 2012 report issued by the Financial Times Group, confirmed that the U.A.E. had attracted the largest number of investment projects in the Middle East and Africa in 2011, while most active FDI companies based their activities in U.A.E..

The World Investment Report 2012 issued by UNCTAD stated that FDI inflows into the U.A.E. had increased by 40%, despite the apparent decrease in most Arab countries due to political unrest and the global recession, making the state the third-largest destination for FDI inflows to West Asia. FDI inflows to the U.A.E. reached $7.679 billion in 2011.
 
IMF and UAE

The U.A.E.'s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow between 4 per cent and 4.5 per cent this year, according to Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy.

"The U.A.E. remains committed to its ongoing development and diversification of its economy in keeping with its Vision 2021, which seeks to make the U.A.E. one of the best countries in the world by 2021," Al Mansouri said.

Al Mansouri said that despite IMF predictions of weaker global oil prices next year, the U.A.E.'s economy will surge ahead and grow even stronger.

''The impact of oil prices is limited to only between 30 and 33 per cent, or its share in the GDP of the country. We are also planning to reduce this share to only 10 per cent in future," Al Mansouri said.

"This year, the U.A.E. was the 30th largest economy in the world. Additionally, the U.A.E. continues to be one of the world's top investment inductive environments, with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) exceeding AED 35 billion last year," Al Mansouri said.

According to the report issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 21st May, 2013, the state's economy continues to grow well as the growth of GDP was about 3.1 per cent in 2013 and is expected to rise to 3.6 per cent in 2014.

The report referred to the state's success in curbing inflation, which declined from 12.3 per cent in 2008 to 0.7 per cent in 2012, with projections indicating that the rate will remain within the limits of 1.6 per cent during the current year.

The real growth of the non-oil sector during 2012, which amounted to 3.1 per cent, is a sign of efforts and positive results of the diversification of income sources and reduction of dependence on oil.

The UAE's GDP shot up to AED1.419 trillion in 2012 from just AED 6.5 billion when the Union was born in 1971.

A report issued by the IMF following discussions on U.A.E. economic and financial performance from April 30th to May 15th, 2013, cited the positive indicators of the U.A.E.’s overall economy, highlighting the strength in the growth of the U.A.E.’s economy which guarantees a solid business environment for investors. This is supported by solid legislations which in turn lead to a growth in the tourism sector, stability in the real estate industry as well as rising capital inflows due to an increase in global liquidity.

Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, said, "The indicators and statistics stated in the final report of the IMF report highlighted the strength and durability of the U.A.E.’s economy, and the efficiency of economic and financial policies adopted by the country. In fact, this contributed to our ability to face obstacles resulting from the financial and economic crises experienced worldwide."

He added, "The final report of the IMF presented a clear and transparent picture of the U.A.E.’s economy. In fact, it reflects the country’s solid underlying foundations and offers investors a clear vision of its growth rates where it guarantees a solid business environment supported by legislations for the establishment and management of their businesses."

The report also stated that the non-oil sector will achieve further growth in 2013 that will amount to 4.3 per cent, supported by recovery in the construction and real estate sectors as well as the continued growth in tourism related sectors. The U.A.E. expanded its production of hydrocarbons at about 5.2%, and the surplus in the current balance rose to 17% of GDP in 2012.

The report indicated a rise in the Central Bank’s reserves which amounted to US$ 47 billion for 2012. Forecasts also show that the trade balance is expected to rise through achieving a surplus of 15 per cent in 2013.

This will be supported by increasing oil prices, non-oil exports, trade and re-exports.

The Fund’s statistics point out the most critical economic indicators for the U.A.E. up to the year 2018, whereby the nation’s GDP is expected to increase from US$377 billion recorded in 2012 to US$474.2 billion in 2018.

Furthermore, the report has forecast an increase in commodity and services exports and re-exports from US$347 billion in 2012 to US$ 542.1 billion in 2018. Non-oil exports will also increase (without including re-exports of the same) from US$ 96.3 billion in 2012 to US$ 193 billion in 2018.

The total amount of exports is set to reach US$ 367 billion in 2013 and will continue to rise to attain an amount of US$ 393 billion by 2014 followed by US$ 420 billion in 2015. This compares to a rate of US$ 299 billion in 2011 and US$ 347 billion in 2012. In line with the expected medium term recovery in the non-oil sector, the sector will grow by 4.2 per cent in 2015, whereby the delegation projects a rise in the export sector to a total amount of US$ 109 for 2013, US$120 for 2014 and US$134 billion for 2015, compared to a total amount of US$ 96 billion in 2012 and nearly US$ 71 billion in 2011.

The IMF delegation expected domestic investments to rise to 15.6 per cent of the GDP in 2013 and to reach a total ratio of 17 per cent in 2014 and 18.7 per cent in 2015, compared to 14.2 per cent for the year 2012 and 16.2 per cent in 2011. These were distributed between public investments (6.1 per cent) and non- governmental investments (12.6 per cent). These percentages place the U.A.E. as a safe haven for investments and investors.

Foreign trade

The total general non-oil foreign trade (non-oil foreign and free zone trade) edged up by 19 per cent in the United Arab Emirates during the first nine months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Federal Customs Authority (FCA) statistical study showed that the general non-oil foreign trade soared to AED 1.138 billion in the period of January to September 2012, compared to AED 960 billion in the same period of the last year to mark an increase of AED 178 billion.

The total non-oil foreign trade increased to AED 797.4 billion in the first nine months of 2012, while the total free zone trade edged up to AED 340.9 billion within the same period, the FCA said.

The imports share in the U.A.E. total general trade hit AED 692.7 billion for the first nine months of 2012, while exports hit AED 53.8 billion and the re-exports hit AED 298.1 billion.

The total free zone trade, according to the FCA study, achieved considerable growth of 24 per cent in the first nine months of 2012 compared to the same period of the previous year, rising from AED 275.1 billion to AED 340.9 billion.

The free zone trade achieved impressive growth in exports and re-exports compared to the growth rate of imports within the same period, reflecting a great improvement in competitiveness of the exports of the U.A.E. free zones and an increase of the regional and international demand for them.

Free Zones imports jumped by 16 per cent from AED 165.5 billion to AED 192.6 billion in the first nine months of 2012. Meanwhile, exports hiked 24 per cent from AED 9.2 billion to AED 12.6 billion and re-exports grow by 36 per cent from AED 100.5 billion to AED 137 billion.

Budget

The Federal Cabinet approved the Union Budget for fiscal year 2013 with total revenues estimated at AED 44.6 billion and expenditures at an equal amount, with no budget deficit.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said that health, education, social welfare of U.A.E. citizens and the development of government services will be the top priorities of the U.A.E. budget for 2013.

''This is in accordance with the vision of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to provide prosperity, security and decent life for citizens wherever they are, he added.

Sheikh Mohammed noted that the budget is part of the three-year budget plan for 2011-2013 with a total expenditure of AED 133 billion. This seeks to meet the requirements of the Federal government’s strategic plan for all sectors and at enhancing various services and social care provided to the citizens within an integrated vision that extends to the year 2021.

The union budget for 2013 is focused on the social development sector and on social benefits with total allocations for them standing at AED 22.7 billion. Education took the largest single share of the budget, at AED 9.9 billion, representing 22 per cent of the total allocations. In the effort to complete the implementation of the country’s Education Development Strategy, the education budget has been increased to AED 6 billion to support development initiatives in government schools and to provide the required financial support for promotion of the teaching staff.

The amount earmarked for the social development sector and social welfare represented 51 per cent of the union budget for 2013, with a total allocation of AED 22.7 billion.

Public education, Higher Education, Health, Labour, Social affairs, Islamic Affairs, Culture, Youth and Community Development, the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme and other social welfare programmes fall under this category.

The Governmental Affairs category, including defence, interior, justice, foreign affairs and other federal departments, accounted for 41 per cent of the federal budget with total allocations standing at AED 18.3 billion.

The budget allocated to the Ministry of Education is about AED 6 billion, which constitutes 13.6 per cent of the total federal budget. The budget will help implement the ministry’s development plan through provision of the latest educational technologies.

The Higher Education’s budget is AED 3.9 billion. It will be used for the development of higher education and scientific research, scholarships for Emirati students abroad, construction of more buildings and premises at public universities and colleges.

The budget allocated to the Ministry of Social Affairs for year 2013 is AED 3 billion to ensure provision of decent living for the beneficiaries of social aid, and to ease burden on Emirati citizens.

Meanwhile, the budget allocated to the Ministry of Health is AED 3.4 billion. It will be used for the provision of comprehensive health services to all citizens. It will also enable the ministry to develop and set up medical centres and premises nationwide. The budget will also be used for furthering the Emiratisation of jobs in the medical field.

The infrastructure has the lion’s share in the federal budget for year 2013. The Federal Electricity and Water Authority’s budget is AED 5.2 billion to keep pace with rising demands for water and electricity services in the northern emirates. The budget will also fund the development projects in this sector, especially in new residential areas.

On 27 October, 2013, the Cabinet approved a three year draft federal budget of AED 140 billion for 2014-2016, putting maximum emphasis on education social development and government services and infrastructure development.

The total allocation is up by 15 per cent compared to the previous three-year budget that covered the period from 2011 to 2013. The new three-year U.A.E. Federal Government budget is aimed at preparing the U.A.E. economy for the next phase of social and economic development.

Sheikh Mohammad ordered an allocation of 51 per cent of the 2014 budget of  AED 46.2 billion for social development related projects, with an estimated cost of AED 23.5 billion. A total of AED 18.5 billion was allocated for governmental affairs constituting 40 per cent of the budget.

Monetary and banking

An IMF report said the banking system maintains significant capital and liquidity buffers, a key strength of the system.

The non-oil economy in the U.A.E. has been gathering strength, amid favorable oil prices and capital inflows.

A Central Bank report indicated that the money supply aggregate M0 (currency in circulation + currency at banks) decreased by 0.3 per cent from AED 60.7 billion at the end of August 2013 to AED 60.5 billion at the end of September of the same year.

The Money supply aggregate M1 (currency in circulation plus monetary deposits, i.e., current accounts and call accounts at banks) increased by 1.8 per cent, from AED 348.0 billion at the end of August 2013 to AED 354.4 billion at the end of September of the same year.

The Money supply aggregate M2 which comprises M1 plus quasi-monetary deposits (resident time and savings deposits in Dirhams, commercial prepayments in Dirhams and resident deposits in foreign currencies), increased by 1.6 per cent, from AED 939.5 billion at the end of August 2013 to AED 955.0 billion at the end of September of the same year.

The Money supply aggregate M3 (M2 plus government deposits at banks operating in the UAE as well as at the Central Bank) increased by 0.2 per cent from AED 1,197.2 billion at the end of August 2013 to AED 1,199.6 billion at the end of September of the same year.

Total bank deposits decreased by 0.1 per cent during the month of September 2013, reaching AED 1,270.0 billion, as a result of a decrease in non-resident deposits by 1.9 per cent, while total bank loans and advances (net of provisions and interest in suspense) increased by 1.1 per cent to reach AED 1,178.3 billion, and total bank assets increased by 1.2 per cent to reach AED 1,907.7 billion, at the end of September 2013.

During the first nine months of 2013, the monetary aggregate M2 increased by 10.7 per cent, while bank loans and advances increased by 7.2 per cent and total bank deposits increased by 8.8 per cent, as a result of an increase in resident deposits by 10.9 per cent.

Up to March 2013, 51 local, Gulf and foreign banks were operating in the U.A.E., including 23 local banks, with 810 branches. The U.A.E. is also home to 120 representative offices for foreign banking and financial institutions. The number of finance companies stood at 25, investment companies at 23 and money exchange houses at 124.

Industrial development

Industry has also seen rapid growth in terms of investment across the emirates and the establishment of new industrial zones, which in turn have attracted more capital and new strategic heavy industries.

Additionally, share of the industrial sector in the GDP rose from just 1 per cent in 1971 to 14 per cent in 2011, and the figure is projected to rise to 25 per cent in the years to come under aggressive plans to diversify sources of production, reduce dependence on oil as a key source of income. By the end of 2011, the number of industrial establishments rose to more 5,200 with total investment estimated at over AED 114 billion.

The industrial landscape has witnessed over recent years the emergence of strategic industries which lured heavy investment and transferred advanced technology in areas of energy, aviation, aluminium, glass, armoured vehicles, steel, medicine and base metal industries.

The U.A.E.'s future lies in the ability to wisely use existing wealth to diversify the economy and grow as a centre for business, production, manufacturing, innovation, education and scientific exploration.

The creation of one of the world’s largest single-site aluminium smelters, signals a major shift towards the establishment of the U.A.E. as a hub for world primary aluminium.

Emirates Aluminium Company (EMAL), a strategic joint venture between aluminium producer Dubai Aluminium Company (DUBAL) and Abu Dhabi investment vehicle Mubadala Development Company (MUBADALA), is a state-of-the-art aluminium smelter complex supplying the world with high quality metal. The advanced smelter in Al Taweelah currently uses DX Reduction Cell Technology to produce 750,000 tonnes of aluminium annually.

With the launch of US$  6 billion Phase II by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, output will increase to 1.5 metric million tonnes by the end of 2014, making it one of the largest single site smelters in the world. EMAL today is one of the largest industrial projects in the U.A.E. outside of the oil and gas industry, and one of the key projects leading to the diversification of the U.A.E. economy.

The signature aluminium development will enable the U.A.E., along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, to join the club of the world's ten largest aluminium producers. The U.A.E. alone controls 47 per cent of the total aluminium industry investment in the GCC of US$ 17.3 billion.

EMAL currently supplies over 150 customers around the globe with high quality ISO9001 certified aluminium. An advanced infrastructure at the Al Taweelah site provides customers with reliable and sustainable production and distribution. The site currently includes a 2,000 MW power plant (which will increase to approximately 3,000MW by 2014) and a carbon plant and a flexible cast house with the capacity to produce a wide variety of world-class products. A purpose-built wharf at Khalifa Port shortens the supply chain of raw materials direct from sea to smelter.

Tourism

The U.A.E. leads the MENA region in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 released by the World Economic Forum, ranking at 28th place overall in the global index.

The U.A.E.’s position has risen two places on the index – which covers 140 countries – since the last assessment.

"Although the U.A.E. is not endowed with rich natural resources, it has built a cultural resource base, attracting both leisure and business travellers, with several growing international fairs and exhibitions and increasingly diverse creative industries," said the report.

While the country is also characterised by a strong affinity for travel and tourism, its most important competitive advantage relates to its "world-class international hubs for global air travel," the report added.

The U.A.E. has also carried out effective marketing and branding campaigns, is open to foreign investments and has a liberal visa regime.

The UAE’s tourism, road and aviation infrastructure is among the best in the world.

According to the World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, the U.A.E. has been rated second best in quality of roads and third in quality of air transport infrastructure worldwide. The quality of port infrastructure and ground transport network were rated 5th and 8th in the world.

The U.A.E. has also been investing heavily in infrastructure development projects over the years. According to Business Monitor International, the U.A.E. is currently investing US$58 billion on roads and bridges alone, including projects which are currently underway and in the planning stage. This figure - which is more than any other Gulf country - accounts for nearly half of the regional spend on development of basic facilities.

The report, prepared by World Economic Forum (WEF), rated the UAE first globally in terms of the presence of major car rental companies in the country.

The U.A.E. also received the distinction of being the best in the world in effectiveness of marketing to attract tourists.

The WEF report said, "Perhaps the most important competitive advantage of U.A.E. travel and tourism competitiveness relates to its world-class international hubs for global air travel. Furthermore, the country has carried out effective marketing and branding campaigns (1st) and has embraced policy rules and regulations that are conducive to the development of the sector (13th)."

The report said that aviation is critical to the economy of the U.A.E., with the sector opening foreign markets to U.A.E. exports, lowering long-distance transport costs, and increasing the flexibility of labour supply.

The World Travel and Tourism Council said investment in tourism sector rose from AED 84.3 billion in 2012 to AED 92.9 bn in 2013 and is projected to grow 7 per cent to AED 104.4bn in 2014 and to AED 137.9 bn by 2022.

The council noted that the U.A.E. took the lion's share of tourism development investment in the Middle East, which stood at AED 149.1 bn in 2012.

As for tourist arrivals, the council said the U.A.E. welcomed 11.2 million guests. Those holidaymakers spent AED 111 bn which was estimated to hike to AED 113.8 bn in 2012.

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said the travel, tourism and aviation sector contributed AED 150 bn (15 per cent) to the GDP. He expected the U.A.E. to pump AED 100 billion into airport developments over the next five years.

The U.A.E. topped the Middle East region for international tourism receipts in 2012, according to data released by the UN's World Tourism Organisation.

The U.A.E. was ranked 31st in global list with receipts of about US$10 billion, just ahead of Saudi Arabia which was placed 35th, with revenues of US$7.4bn.

The U.A.E.'s tourism industry generated AED 22 billion in revenues last year, according to the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities (NCTA), the federal government's tourism regulatory body.

Hotels and hotel apartments served 14.5 million guests last year, generating 44.3 million guest nights as hotel occupancy rate rose to 70 per cent.

Hotel room capacity is expected to reach 20,000 rooms by 2015 and 70 per cent of these hotels are located in Dubai, he added.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, announced  that the United Arab Emirates rejoined the organisation 26 years after having left. The announcement was made during the UNWTO & Arabian Travel Market Ministerial Forum on Tourism and Aviation in Dubai, on 7th May 2013.

"The Middle East is one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world, in spite of facing countless challenges; much of this dynamism has been led by the strong political commitment awarded to tourism in the region and the vision that tourism is a key pillar of development in the Middle East of which the U.A.E. is a perfect example" said Mr. Rifai.

"The U.A.E. plays a central role, not only in the development of tourism in the region, but also in linking the Middle East with other regions - and we expect that by working together we will enhance tourism within and to the Emirates as well as increase regional cooperation", he added.

The U.A.E. and UNWTO will work on several initiatives including the measurement of the economic impact of tourism, statistics and human resources development.
 
Oil & Gas Industry: Ambitions Unlimited
 
The oil and gas industry is a key driver for the U.A.E.’s economy.  The U.A.E., one of the world’s largest crude oil producers, has been embarking on ambitious energy efficiency plans, which focus on optimising the use of hydrocarbons.
 
The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has earmarked AED260 billion to spend on the oil, gas and petrochemicals sector over the next decade, with plans to boost total oil production to 3.5 million barrels per day  (bpd) by 2017 and to increase gas production from 6 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) to 7.5 bcfd. The U.A.E. has the world’s third largest proven oil reserves  of 98 billion barrels and the fifth largest natural gas reserves of 6 trillion cubic feet.
 
Established in 1971, ADNOC is among the world’s ten biggest national oil and gas companies.

The U.A.E. has shown strict commitment to OPEC’s output quota system, aimed to stabilise oil markets by regulating oil production.

The 1.8 million-barrel-per day Abu Dhabi crude oil pipeline that runs from Habshan oilfield in Abu Dhabi to Fujairah to export oil without passing through the Strait of Hormuz, was inaugurated on 15th July 2012.

The year 2012 also saw several agreements signed with new international oil companies, including companies from China and South Korea. A number of oil project contracts were also awarded to companies from Germany and Austria.
 
IPIC: Long term growth strategies
 
The International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) was established in 1984 with a mandate to invest globally in energy and energy-related industries. The company’s board of directors is chaired by H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
 
IPIC’s portfolio consists of 8 international companies which span five continents, with a combined refining capacity of around 1, 523 million bpd and about 5,000 service stations around the world. The company has exploration and production operations in 11 countries.
 
The company is also mandated to develop and deliver certain domestic infrastructure and strategic oil and gas projects within the U.A.E..
 
IPIC’s long-term investment strategy has yielded business partnerships with some of the leading international energy companies which acquire oil refineries and thousands of high branded service stations and a wide range of chemical and petroleum products, as well as crude oil pipelines and oil and gas exploration projects.
 
Competitive economy, world-class infrastructure

 
According to the Global Competitiveness Report issued by the World Economic Forum (DAVOS) for 2013-2014, the U.A.E. advanced five positions in the total competitiveness of its economy in one year, from 25th last year to the 19th this year.

 
The U.A.E. also gained advanced positions worldwide in many indices as it came 1st worldwide in quality of roads, absence of organised crime and containment of the effects of inflation, 2nd worldwide in foreign direct investment and technology transfer, 3rd worldwide in citizens’ trust in political leaders and 4th worldwide in efficiency of its markets.

Additionally, the U.A.E. came 3rd worldwide in the index of government purchases of advanced technology, 4th worldwide in quality of infrastructure, 2nd worldwide in the low effect of crime on business sector and 3rd worldwide in the infrastructure of its air transport.

President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued a number of initiatives to improve quality of life for the citizens. The initiatives tackle two sectors, the infrastructure and economic, social and health development.

The President’s initiatives cover various projects for granting land plots and villas to citizens, construction of roads, bridges and dams.

President issued a number of decisions, including the formation of a committee to follow up on the progress of the initiatives. A total amount of AED16 billion was allocated for development and infrastructure projects such as roads, schools, hospitals, houses, healthcare centres and electricity and water plants.

Marine ports serving regional growth

The U.A.E. has more than 26 marine ports, in addition to the main oil exporting ports. They control around 61 percent of the shipping traffic in the Gulf.

On 12th December 2012, Sheikh Khalifa inaugurated Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi’s Al Taweelah area, which is considered one of the world’s largest and most developed ports in terms of technology and operational capacity.

Khalifa Port and the adjacent Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad) will contribute to the pace of economic growth the U.A.E. is currently witnessing.

The new port handles all types of cargoes with a focus on dealing with huge ships as the depth of harbour and the canal leading to it reaches 16 – 18 meters.

Khalifa Port was designed to be developed and expanded into many phases should demand exist. Phase one has the capacity to handle 2.5 million TEUs and can increase to 15 million.

In Dubai, DP World is currently working on a project to expand its flagship port, Jebel Ali, by creating an additional 4 million TEU capacity, resulting in total capacity at Jebel Ali reaching 19 million TEU by 2014.

DP World will be investing around $850 million over three years adapting 1,860 metres of quayside and 70 hectares of yard from an existing general cargo berth into a new container terminal within the existing container port.

The new terminal, which will operate with the largest, most efficient quay cranes and have a draft of 17 metres, will be able to handle the world’s largest container vessels planned for the future.

Transport and aviation: A success story

The U.A.E. has eight international airports, in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Al Ain. It is expected that within the next five years, a total of AED 100 billion will have been invested in airport expansion projects across the country.

In mid 2012, the Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) started work on expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport with construction of its 700,000-square-meter Midfield terminal building, which will initially handle 40 million passengers per year. It is set to become the future home of Etihad Airways, the national airline of the U.A.E..

There are other expansion projects in the Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah.

The aviation sector has become a key economic component, contributing over AED145 billion, or 14.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The five national carriers; Etihad Airways, Emirates, Air Arabia, Fly Dubai and RAK Airways, feature among the world’s best airlines.

In 2009, Etihad Rail was established under Federal Law No. 02, with a mandate to manage the development, construction and operation of the U.A.E.’s national freight and passenger railway network.

The railway network is being built in phases to link the principal centres of population and industry of the U.A.E., as well as to form a vital part of the planned GCC railway network linking the six countries of the GCC.

In January, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, approved Dubai’s rail network expansion plan including connections to the proposed Etihad Rail network. Covering an area of 421km with 197 stations, the expansion of the existing network and new rail routes and infrastructure are expected to be completed by 2030 in three phases.

Booming IT and telecom sectors

This year, the U.A.E. jumped 30 places to become the second in the world and the first in the Middle East and Africa region in the "Government Usage of ICT" index in the Global Information Technology Report 2013, just released by the World Economic Forum.

The report, covering 144 countries this year, ranks countries in terms of leveraging information and communications technologies to boost national competitiveness. The achievement of the U.A.E. is significant, considering that this increase is acknowledged as demonstrating the largest recorded jump in the "Government Usage of ICT" index in the report this year.
 
Regional and International Capital of Renewable Energy

The inauguration of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Shams 1 Renewable Energy Plant in the Western Region of the Abu Dhabi Emirate on 17th March, 2013, ushered in a new era of production of renewable energy in the UAE. It was the fruit of years of strenuous work which culminated with the U.A.E. becoming a regional and international player in the area of renewable energy. The country is also one of the most important oil producing and exporting countries in the world.

The U.A.E. President expressed his pride in the Shams 1 plant achievement, saying, "The U.A.E. is proud of this huge accomplishment in the field of energy". After the inauguration of the project, which was set up with cooperation between Masdar and specialised international renewable energy companies, and has a capacity of 100 megawatts, he noted that the building of the plant would contribute to sustainable development for more energy.

He added that the project had made Abu Dhabi a capital of renewable energy at both regional and international levels, stressing, "We will continue to back the new trend initiated by Masdar, and the hosting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)".

Sheikh Khalifa said that Abu Dhabi and the U.A.E. would continue developing future programmes for energy through renewable sources by 2020.

After initiating three solar energy projects in the U.A.E., Masdar instigated the supply of renewable energies at regional and international levels.

On 10th October, 2013, Masdar announced allocations to fund the London Array, the world's largest offshore wind farm. Officially launched by Masdar on 4th July, 2013, in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, the 630 megawatt London Array cost GBP2.2 billion. The project is owned by a consortium, including two major international companies and Masdar, which owns 20 percent of the project.

During the inauguration ceremony, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah said that the U.A.E. is well ahead in its endeavours to become a world supplier for both renewable and traditional energy, due to a pivotal role played by this sector in the social and economic growth.

Masdar also owns a stake in Torresol Energy and Sener Engineering Company in Spain.

This partnership has achieved a production capacity of 120 megawatts of solar energy. In addition to these projects in Spain, Masdar also has a stake in Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant, a subsidiary of Torresol Energy, which is the first commercial scale Concentrated Solar Plant in the world.

Masdar signed an agreement in 2012 with the government of the Seychelles to build wind turbines. The wind plant in the Seychelles islands is expected to produce 6 megawatts of electricity. Masdar has also completed the building of a solar energy plant in Mauritania which is expected to produce 10 per cent of the total energy consumption in that country. The plant was launched at a ceremony in Mauritania attended by H.H. Sheikh Saeed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Representative of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The plant capacity of 15 megawatts was achieved in a record time of just four months by Masdar in cooperation with the Mauritanian Electricity Company, at a cost of US$32 million, donated by the U.A.E..

Renewable Energy in Dubai

Dubai has been keeping pace with the state’s trend to develop renewable energies that meet the increasing demand for energy. The Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on 22nd October, 2013, launched the first phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The park is sponsored by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy. Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) runs and operates the park at total cost of AED12 billion, with a production capacity of 1,000 megawatts.

This project is one of Dubai’s strategic components to diversify energy sources. The solar energy park will produce 13 megawatts in its first phase. It will be linked to the DEWA network.

UAE Enters Peaceful Nuclear Energy Era

The U.A.E. has been keen on adhering to all international specifications on implementing its peaceful nuclear energy programme. The specifications are clearly enshrined in the U.A.E. Policy on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy, issued in April 2008.

Thus, the U.A.E. has become a regional and international role-model in terms of transparency and compliance with specifications and standards.

The General Assembly of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 2nd September, 2013, unanimously elected the U.A.E. to the membership of Board of Governors from 2013- 2015. The move reflects the confidence of the international community of the U.A.E.’s responsible stances in the areas of nuclear energy.

The U.A.E. is entering into advanced stages of production of nuclear energy, following contracts signed by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) on October 22nd, 2012 with a consortium of six international companies from the U.S., South Korea, Canada, Russia and France, to import nuclear fuel for a period of 15 years at a total cost of US$3 billion. This nuclear fuel will produce 450 megawatts of electricity in one hour.

The first nuclear plant will be operational by 2017, and there will be four other nuclear plants, which will be set up in Barakah in the Western Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi by 2020. Each plant will produce 1,400 megawatts. Thus, it will provide for future requirements for safe and environmentally friendly electricity, and help implement ambitious sustainability plans.

An IAEA delegation, headed by its Director-General, Yukiya Amano, on 29th January, 2013 paid an official visit to the Barakah site in the Western Region. Amano said after the visit that the U.A.E. had achieved considerable progress in developing its peaceful nuclear energy safely. "We thank the U.A.E. Government, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) and ENEC for allowing the IAEA delegation to visit the Barakah site and assess the progress being made. We are satisfied with the progress and the information we have gathered."

In a statement issued in Vienna on 7th February, 2013, the IAEA praised the standard of safety of the U.A.E.’s peaceful nuclear programme.

The U.A.E. President issued a federal decree in October, 2012 on civil liability regarding nuclear damage, in full accordance with the Vienna Convention of 1997. The law specified the stipulations and compensation that could be paid by the nuclear operator in case of damage, not exceeding AED2.5 billion.

Foreign Minister H.H Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that the U.A.E.'s peaceful nuclear programme takes into account safety and transparency, noting that the new law provides the public with guarantees regarding potential nuclear damage in case of incidents. He added that the law aims to regulate the provisions on specifying the scope of civil liability and compensation for damage caused by incidents, in the light of internationally adhered to commitments and practices.

Legal experts of IAEA gave advice on the clauses and provisions of the law. They reviewed it carefully to ensure that it matches the guidelines of the IAEA and internationally agreed upon specifications and standards.

AED75 billion contracts signed by ENEC in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2009 with a South Korean and American consortium, led by the South Korean Electricity Company (KEPCO), to build and operate four nuclear reactors until 2020, constituted the actual launch of the U.A.E.’s peaceful nuclear programme.

The U.A.E. has also signed a host of agreements with a number of friendly countries on cooperation in the field of nuclear energy for civil use, and the transfer of technology in a way that serves the national programme. Those agreements were signed with a number of countries, including the U.S., Russia, Britain, Japan, France, Canada and Australia.
 
Aviation Industry Technology

The U.A.E. has entered the field of aviation industry technology, after Mubadala Development, the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi Government, set up Strata, Mubadala Aerospace’s Manufacturing subsidiary, in 2009. It also set up the Al Ain Aerospace Cluster with total investments of US$10 billion over 20 years. Al Ain Aviation Academy teaches aircraft manufacturing specialisations and issues Bachelor’s degrees in the highly specialized fields of aviation engineering, aviation management, aircraft manufacturing technology and higher diplomas in aircraft manufacturing.

The U.A.E. is aspiring to become an international hub in maintenance and aircraft manufacturing technology after becoming an international centre for civil aviation. The value of the aircraft maintenance market in the world is over US$59 billion and is expected to rise to $85 billion in 2022. U.A.E. national carriers currently account for about 40 per cent of the volume of aircraft maintenance in the GCC states. The volume of aircraft maintenance market in the Middle East is about $3.8 billion, constituting 6 per cent of the total world market.

Strata has signed long term contracts that extend for 20 and 30 years with Boeing and Airbus Industries to supply about 2,000 shipments of aircraft wings and other components. Strata is now planning to start manufacturing the first Emirati-built airplane for businesspersons from 2018- 2020, in partnership with the Italian Bijoux Company.

The World Aviation Industry Summit, hosted in Abu Dhabi on 16th April, 2012 under the aegis of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nayan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, highlighted the U.A.E.’s role as a major partner, whether in the civil aviation industry or for purchases of aircraft by the national carriers, which constitute 10 per cent of the world's aircraft orders.

Ambitious Strategies and priority for general services

Since its inception, the U.A.E. has given priority to upgrading social development sectors, including education, health, housing, electricity, water, infrastructure and social care. The move comes in line with ambitious strategies to provide decent living conditions to citizens. To achieve those projects, the Cabinet, on 30th October, 2012, endorsed  the general federal budget for the fiscal year 2013. Estimated revenues were AED44.6 billion and expenditure the same - leaving zero deficit.

The federal budget for 2013 focused on social development and the welfare sectors by allocating AED22.7 billion, with the education sector allocated 22 per cent of the budget, about AED9.9 billion. The budget allocated to the Ministry of Social Affairs in 2013 was AED3 billion, to provide decent living conditions for beneficiaries. The social aid sector covers over 82,000 Emiratis.

Best World Class Education Standards and Specifications

About 13.6 per cent of the total budget, equivalent to AED6 billion, has been allocated to the Ministry of Education to implement the Ministry’s plan to develop an exemplary school environment and provide educational technologies. The higher education budget was estimated at AED3.9 billion.

The number of public and private schools is now 1,376 with 892,000 students in all levels in the academic year 2013- 2014, compared to just 74 schools with 12,800 students during the academic year 1971- 1972. The entire education system was improved, and is now based on a knowledge economy and labour market requirements.

From 2011 to 2013, The Ministry of Education adopted a comprehensive strategy to implement the best educational technology standards and specifications. It embarked on 261 projects to replace 154 schools and create 109 new schools nationwide, at a cost AED10.5 billion.

In 1977, there was just one single university, the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain city, but today there are over 80 universities and higher educational institutes with  over 110,000 students across the U.A.E.

They offer 780 study and research programmes. The U.A.E. has also attracted a number of prestigious U.S., U.K. and European universities to open their branches.

The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), which was launched in 1988, includes 17 colleges spread across the U.A.E. and absorbs about 20,000 students. Over 60,000 students have so far graduated from the HCT and now occupy leading posts in the private and public sectors.

World Class Health Services

Since its inception, the U.A.E. has been providing high quality health services, including curative, preventive and vaccination services. It also implements programmes to combat chronic, communicable diseases as well as mother and child care programmes.

Spending on healthcare in the U.A.E. stood at about AED36 billion in 2011. It is expected to reach AED40 billion by 2015. There are 92 hospitals and 246 primary healthcare centres, among them 15 hospitals of the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The federal budget of 2013 allocated AED3.4 billion to ensure better health services for citizens.

Social Care Services

The U.A.E. has implemented strategies to ensure decent living conditions for citizens through implementing a social security law and forging partnerships with public institutions and the private sector to strengthen corporate responsibility. The federal budget of 2013 allocated AED22.7 billion for the social welfare sector. The Ministry of Social Affairs supervises over 500 social organisations and deals with over 500,000 members of cooperative societies and welfare bodies.

Housing

The state takes much interest in the housing sector so as to meet the needs of citizens through the provision of modern residences and family stability. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum said the provision of appropriate housing and decent living conditions for citizens comes top of the national agenda, being the main function of the government.

Concerted local and federal initiatives have been set up to provide the housing needs of citizens, including the initiatives of the Ministry of Public Works, Abu Dhabi Housing Authority, The Follow-up Committee of the initiatives of U.A.E. President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Establishment, Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, and competent housing departments at municipalities nationwide.

On 1st December, 2012, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa announced a new initiative for the construction of 10, 000 residential units across the U.A.E. The Follow-up Committee of the initiatives of the U.A.E. President surveyed dilapidated buildings which were constructed before the 1990s with a view to replacing them with 10,000 residential villas nationwide at a cost of AED10 billion. On 19th December, 2012, the U.A.E. President, in his capacity as Ruler of Abu Dhabi Emirate, issued a decree setting up the Abu Dhabi Housing Authority, which is both financially and administratively autonomous. The authority is headed by H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor and Deputy Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces and Chairman of the Executive Council of Emirate of Abu Dhabi, said, "Our interest in the housing of citizens and the provision of decent living conditions are not transitional issues, but permanent strategic ones."
The Abu Dhabi Housing Authority aims to implement the housing programmes in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Earlier, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) outlined the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, to set up better and more modern residential complexes as alternatives to low cost housing. On 18th April, 2011, the UPC announced that it would build 7,500 villas for citizens in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region at a cost of AED13 billion, bringing the number of villas to be built for citizens to over 1,300 at a total cost of AED21 – 22 billion.

Upon directives of the U.A.E. President, 68,000 plots of land were allocated to citizens in all areas of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi between 2005 and 2013. A special loans committee was set up to assist citizens who were allocated the plots to enable them to build their houses in accordance with the designs that meet their requirements. The total housing loans disbursed to the citizens between 1991 and 2012 stood at over AED39 billion.

The Ministry of Public Works supervises the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme, which has received support from the government since its inception in 2000. The funding allocated by the federal government the programme has risen by nearly threefold from AED500 million to AED1.4 billion.

The U.A.E. Vice President, Sheikh Mohammed, in his capacity as Ruler of Dubai, on 24th February, 2011 issued the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Housing Establishment Law. It aims to provide housing services to beneficiaries in a way that meets their needs, and provides good living conditions for them. On 4th March, 2013, the board of the Establishment endorsed the budget of AED760 million. The Establishment completed the construction of 2,940 residential units between 2007 and early 2012 in a number of areas in the Emirate of Dubai, at a cost of AED3 billion.
 
The UAE a Global Cultural Centre

The U.A.E. has implemented a number of cultural projects and initiatives that support its strategic approach in order to be a regional centre for culture, arts and heritage as well as a bridge for cultural communication with the world.

The U.A.E. has worked on building strategic, scientific and artistic partners with a number of countries and regional institutions that pay attention to the preservation of culture and heritage, aiming to safeguard the cultural, traditional and architectural regions of the U.A.E. .

It also targeted openness about other cultures and civilisations in the world, which has resulted in making the U.A.E. a regional centre for culture and arts as well as a bridge for cultural communication with the world.

One of the most important cultural projects in Abu Dhabi is the Saadiyat Cultural District, which is a 27 square kilometer multi-faceted island destination development being transformed into a culture hub and an international tourist destination.

The Saadiyat Cultural District includes the Zayed National Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Saadiyat Minaret.

The Abu Dhabi Louvre is set to open in 2015, the Zayed National Museum will be opened in 2016, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will open in 2017, covering a total area of 87,000 square meters.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announces the Dubai Modern Art Museum and Opera House District in Downtown Dubai

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, U.A.E. Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, has announced the launch of the 'Dubai Modern Art Museum and Opera House District,' a stylish cultural destination to be located in Emaar's flagship development, Downtown Dubai, anticipated to be the U.A.E.'s newest arts and cultural nerve-centre.

The 'Dubai Modern Art Museum and Opera House District' aims to further strengthen the U.A.E.'s emerging role as the cultural hub of the region, and builds on Dubai's current repertoire of over 50 art galleries and globally acclaimed art showcases, including Art Dubai, Design Days Dubai and SIKKA, all of which also contribute to attracting high-end cultural tourists.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, has also launched the ambitious Khor Dubai cultural initiative, which aims to establish Dubai as a global centre for cultural and civilised dialogue. The project will include the establishment of "The Universal Museums" project, which will bring together leading collections by globally-recognised museums for the first time ever, confirming his vision of Dubai as a vibrant global city that draws the world’s greatest artistic and cultural assets.

In addition, other cultural and artistic projects, such as The Museum of Middle East Modern Art, Dubai Culture Village and the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization which was renovated and re-opened in 2008 as a significant tourist landmark in the region, and the first of its kind in the U.A.E.. Situated right at the historical heart of Sharjah on the Majarrah Waterfront, this fascinating Museum started its life as a traditional Middle Eastern Souq or indoor market.

 In 2012, the International Council of Museums, ICOM, affiliated with the UNESCO, drew attention to the fact that the U.A.E. has reached  international standards with the number of government national museums at 52,  in addition to the 1000 private museum in the country.

The U.A.E.'s cultural arena is also rich with both government and non-government cultural, scientific and research institutions, such as the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, the Emirates Centre of Studies and Scientific Research, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the Sultan bin Zayed Cultural and Media Centre, The National Center for Documentation and Research and the Department of Culture and Information. Sharjah also has many cultural and heritage centres in the country.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth, and Community Development, made a statement on 10th, June 2013, during his first meeting with the  staff of the ministry, the General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare, and the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities at the Etihad Towers Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

He outlined that the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Community Development will see a qualitative leap in performing its mission and carrying out programmes to enhance human development, consolidating the concepts of national identity and allegiance to the country’s wise leadership.

Sheikh Nahyan has defined culture, saying, "Man is the cornerstone of culture and its main target," stressing that the ministry would not be able to achieve its goals without team work.

Sheikh Nahyan said that the ministry will launch a number of strategic initiatives that aim to lay the foundation stone of a creative environment that encourages innovation for all national cadres who are specialised in culture, youth and community development affairs.

National identity-related projects will top the list of new initiatives to be launched by the ministry. The initiatives will boost the U.A.E.’s status as a centre for moderation, inter-faith tolerance, cultural communication, nurturing the potential and talent of Emirati youth, as well as using all capabilities and resources necessary to enhance the abilities of youth to support the country’s march of progress and cultural development.

Sheikh Nahyan declared that the ministry will play a key role in human development and sustainable community development. He also re-affirmed that it should play an effective part in making the U.A.E. a bridge that connects all cultures, and serves as a meeting point of all civilisations.

He said the ministry would implement a number of strategic initiatives aiming to create a "stimulus environment which encourages innovation for all national cadres, specialised in cultural and youth affairs and community development aspects."

Sheikh Nahyan added that the ministry will draw up and implement ambitious plans to activate and develop the cultural, literary and art environment as an essential approach at this time, a time which is witnessing a massive revolution in information technology and telecommunications. He stressed that the ministry will also work to establish an active theatrical, art and literary movement in the country to serve the issues of community development and enrich people’s lives. As such, the ministry will adopt the idea of exposing everyone to theatre and art in a manner that meets the needs of all community members and unlocks their positive potential.

The ministry also aims to utilise culture, literature and arts in environment development, adopting community initiatives, rationalising human behaviour and stimulating interests in order to improve the quality of life.

The ministry aims to launch specialised initiatives that deal with community development issues, such as life and social skills, preparing individuals for a useful life, giving attention to various languages and cultures, stimulating the role of productive families, nurturing gifted and creative people, and encouraging the project of "reading for all."

International achievements in the environment protection field

The U.A.E. has occupied a prestigious position regionally and globally, due to its outstanding achievements in the field of protecting environmental and natural life.

The U.A.E. has also contributed to the preservation of several species of rare and endangered animals such as the Arabian Oryx.

The country also has contributed, globally, to the field of breading the Houbara, a culturally significant species of bird, where it has established a number of natural reserves, both terrestrial and marine. The natural reserves are protected areas where endangered species like gazelles, dugongs and turtles can flourish.

 The U.A.E. has also worked on achieving a balance between sustainable development and the environment, to preserve the right to live a healthy and safe life for the coming generations.

The Founder of the U.A.E., the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, established a solid basis for environment work by connecting development with environment.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) honoured Sheikh Zayed posthumously as an outstanding and innovative leader with the "Champion of the Earth"' award.

He also won over 18 Arab, regional and international awards, medals and appreciation certificates for his sincere efforts in protecting and developing the environment, the promotion of agriculture and the spreading of greenery to curb desertification.

The U.A.E. has the cleanest environment in the GCC, and it achieved this status within a short period of time, according to the World Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The country is currently ranked 77 out of 163 countries worldwide.

The U.A.E. is also ranked first in "Global Planted Forests", for its efforts in the planting and maintenance of semi-natural forests.

Human Resource Development

Since its establishment, the U.A.E. has adopted an ambitious vision to build human resources. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan laid its stones, saying,  "Human resources are the basis of any cultural development."

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan followed in his steps and implemented this vision.

U.A.E. leaders have given paramount importance to the making of man, with the strong faith that human beings are the real wealth of a nation and the foundation of its renaissance.

The founding President of the U.A.E. spared no efforts in developing human wealth and bringing up a generation who have strong confidence in their own selves and are capable of protecting their national identity.

President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has directed that the empowerment of the country's citizens must be of paramount importance in the U.A.E.'s development programme.

The Period of Empowerment, which was launched by Sheikh Khalifa in 2006, put  citizens at the heart of development.

He said, "A homeland without its citizens has no value and is of no use, regardless of the wealth and resources it may have." The U.A.E.’s achievements have become a role model role which has attained regional and international appreciation.

The U.A.E. has been ranked first in the region and 30th globally from 187 countries in the annual United Nations Human Development Index, which was officially launched in Abu Dhabi.

Rebeca Grynspan, UN Under-Secretary-General and United Nations Development Programme Associate Administrator expressed her pleasure to launch the UN Human Development Index from Abu Dhabi for the second year in a row, in recognition of  the distinguished position achieved by the U.A.E., and the unprecedented achievements which have enabled the country to rank first among Arab countries.
 
She added that the U.A.E., from the human development field, has become the ideal role model in the region in the domain of development. She also commended the U.A.E.'s future vision to diversify income sources and develop a non-oil economic sector towards building a knowledge- based economy, that depends on technology and science. The U.A.E. is focusing on the concept of developing its human resources. It also devotes interest to education, health and the consolidation of national identity aspects.
 
Amat Al Aleem Ali Alsoswa of Yemen, who served as an Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant Administrator of the UNDP and Director of its Regional Bureau for Arab States also expressed her happiness on the launch of the UN Human Development Index, saying that it was an opportunity to shed light on the challenges and  opportunities that address human development in the Arab Region. It also highlights the U.A.E.'s amazing experience in human resources development in previous years, while celebrating its 42nd National Day anniversary.
 
She also underlined the fact that not only has the U.A.E. achieved the highest level of national income per capita in the world, but it has also made unprecedented achievements in the human development field and in particular in the health and education aspects. This has been achieved thanks to its strategy and successful vision in appropriate investment in both areas.
 
Amat Al Aleem Ali Alsoswa said that in the area of health, the U.A.E. has implemented strong policies and prudent investments over the past four decades, with an increase in life-expectancy by more than 14 years, to now be more than 76 years.

The Education sector has made obvious progress over the previous years, where the Emirati student now enjoys a 13-year education, according to the highest levels of education.

According to surveys, the U.A.E. has, in the last five years, been able to raise by 19 points in the UN Human Development Index.

The Arab Administrative Development Organisation hailed the efforts made by the U.A.E. to develop human resources skills. It also affirmed that the U.A.E. was able to achieve advanced rankings in that field globally.

Woman is a basic partner in development

U.A.E. women have achieved more distinguished gains within the political empowerment programme launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Woman now occupy the highest position in all fields. They have also become partners in leading the development march, in addition to their effective presence in a variety of fields at Arab, regional and international levels.

Emirati women have made significant progress since the U.A.E. was established, both in terms of their access to education and their subsequent employment.

Thanks to the political empowerment programme launched by the President, Emirati women are now occupying numerous senior posts, both in the private sector and in the executive, legislative and judiciary authorities.

Four women are in the current Cabinet, the highest number in any Arab country, eight serve as members of the Federal National Council, representing 22 per cent of the total, four more serve as ambassadors abroad while other women work as judges, army officers, police officers, airline pilots, a consul general and over 65 diplomats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For the current term of the Federal National Council, Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi was the first woman to be elected to the position of First Deputy Speaker of the Federal National Council.

In a further noteworthy development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed the first woman as the U.A.E.’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh.
 
Speaking on the occasion, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, expressed his delight to receive the first female Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations in New York, saying that he viewed her assignment as a reflection of the increasingly prominent role played by Emirati women in U.A.E. society.

Women have also joined the fields of civil, military and air defence aviation, in addition to working in various branches and units of the Ministry of Interior.

Thanks to the efforts of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’ s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Emirati women are now recognised as an important component in human resources in the government sector. They occupy 66 per cent of government jobs, 30 per cent of which are in decision-making positions, while 15 per cent of Emirati women now work in specialised fields, such as medicine, teaching, pharmacology and nursing.

 After the establishment of the U.A.E. Businesswoman Council, the percentage of woman's participation in the labour market has increased steadily.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report, 2013, the U.A.E. ranked 1st among Arab countries in woman's participation in the economic field. The international report classifies the countries in accordance with the four basic fields, health care, education, political participation and economic equality.

In its report for 2013, the National Statistics Centre of the U.A.E. has affirmed that the number of female students in university education is estimated to be the highest worldwide.

The United Arab Emirates was elected to the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women for a 3-year term from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2015.

This came in recognition of the U.A.E.'s outstanding achievements attained by Emirati woman.
  
In addition, the Arab Women Organisation's executive council confirmed at the conclusion of its 4th AWO congress, the U.A.E.’s Dr. Sheikha Al Shamsi as the new director general of the pan-Arab women’s organisation for a four-year term in office.
 
The U.A.E. has also won  membership of the International Association of Women Police, which includes representation from 63 countries worldwide. Abu Dhabi was elected to be the headquarter of the Middle East Region.
 In a new achievement, on 9th December 2012, the Cabinet issued a decision pertaining to  the compulsory representation of woman in all government departments and companies in the country.
 
In a statement made on the occasion of the U.A.E.'s 40th National Day, in 2011, the President noted that the doors are wide open for women to achieve yet more. "We have made the empowerment of women a basic national priority," he said. "Thanks to good planning, our women have made great progress. They enjoy their full rights, and practice their activities without discrimination."
 
H. H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood said, "The Emirati woman is no longer obsessed with practicing her rights nor asking for them, since she has gained great achievements and outstanding gains through the approach adopted by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to empower woman in all political, economic, social and all other fields."
 
Tremendous achievements in the electricity and water sector

The U.A.E., in order to meet its growing needs of energy and keep up with its future ambitious plans in sustainable development , industrial, urban and population expansion, pursued  new sources of solar, hydrogen and wind energy, in addition to the utilisation of nuclear energy.

The U.A.E.'s total investment in the energy and water sector from 2011 to 2013 reached AED 125.8 billion, out of which 11 AED billion was in 2011.

Demand for electricity in the country is forecast to rise from 24,000 megawatts in 2011 to 40,000 megawatts in 2020, and the rise in water demand will go from 4.5 billion cubic metres in 2008 to 9 billion cubic metres in 2030.

The production capacity of water from desalination plants is estimated to be about 1.7 billion cubic metres annually. The country ranks in second place globally after Saudi Arabia in that field.

The available quantity of groundwater in the country is about 583 billion cubic metres.  Sweet water represents three per cent out of the total amount and is estimated to be 20 billion cubic metres.

A number of federal and local authorities are responsible for the management of electricity and water projects in the country, including  Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA), the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA).

 The Federal Water and Electricity Authority, an independent body, supervises the management of electricity and water in the northern areas of the country, where it is implementing a number of vital projects in order to increase its electricity and water production, at a cost of AED 10 billion and with an expected completion target in 2016.

The Abu Dhabi Electricity and Water Authority, since its establishment in 1998, has carried out several specialised and giant projects in the electricity and water sector in conjunction with a variety of partner companies.
The volume of foreign investment in the implemented projects has been AED 60 billion up to the beginning of 2011, which indicates the success of the strategic choices adopted by Abu Dhabi Government in the field of the sector privatisation.
 
The electrical production volume of the body reached 14,900 megawatts annually in 2012 and 900 million gallons of water a day. It also secures electricity and water supplies to about 2 million consumers in Abu Dhabi and some northern regions of the country.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan , the Ruler 's Representative in the Western Region, launched the Shuweihat Station 2 in 2013, which produces up to 1500 MW of electricity and 100 million gallons of water, at a total cost of AED10 billion.

In 2012, the Authority signed an agreement with one of the biggest international companies and coalitions to implement Shuweihat S3 at a cost of AED5 billion, with a production capacity estimated at 1600 MW.

This project, the ninth of its kind, will be operated within the framework of the privatisation programme.

The company announced tendering contracts for the Al Marfa Station project by the end of  2012 for the production of electricity and water desalination, aiming to raise production to 1600 MW of electricity annually and about 53 million gallons of water daily. The project will increase Abu Dhabi production when completed, along with Shuweihat 3 in 2015, to 17,100 MW annually.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) further developed its own production capacity when H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance, and President of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), opened DEWA’s M Station for electricity generation and water desalination in Jebel Ali.

The M Station is the largest power production and water desalination plant in the U.A.E.. The total cost of M Station exceeded AED 10 billion, and it has a capacity of 2,060 MW of electricity, and 140 million gallons of desalinated water per day. DEWA is now able to achieve a total production of 9,646 MW of electricity, and 470 million gallons of desalinated water per day, to meet the current and future needs of the Emirate of Dubai, including planned expansion to further drive urban prosperity and economic advancement.

Recently, DEWA also implemented a number of infrastructure projects to increase its production capacity of water, electricity and natural gas to keep up with the economic, social and urban development boom, being witnessed.

In 2012, the body also completed new projects worth AED 340 million, including electricity and water extensions in the Al Siouh Area at total cost of AED 160 million, the establishment and operation of Al Mussla Station at a cost of AED 80 million, and the first phase of delivering natural gas to the Eastern Region at a cost of AED100 million, reaching the residents of Kalba, Khor Fakkan and more than 600 villas and residences in the region.

DEWA also completed the infrastructure for water delivery to about 700 residents at Al Rahmaniyah Area and is implementing network lines of 110 kilometers length, in addition to saving 105 megawatts of energy.

Media policy strategies

Over the last four decades, the media march in the U.A.E has witnessed significant successive developments in infrastructural development. These efforts were implemented to keep up with global changes in the field of information and communication technology.

It also affirmed consolidation of transparency, freedoms, updating legislation regulating media activities and the establishment of Media Free Areas.

The National Media Council (NMC) was founded in 2006, following the annulment of the Ministry of Information and Culture. The NMC was formed to supervise media policy in the country and promote media content, in addition to developing Emirati media cadres. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan chairs the National Media Council.

The NMC is assigned to tackle and coordinate media policy among the emirates, in line with the country's policies inside and outside its borders, to ensure support for the Union and highlight the concept of national unity.

Amongst the many tasks of the National Media Council is the issuing of licences for media organisations, following up on media content and the registration of foreign media correspondents working in the country. It also supervises the import of newspapers, magazines and books from abroad in order to secure tranquility and stability for citizens and supervises all media outlets, in addition to highlighting the country's stature in regional and international events.

The NMC is also in charge of receiving media representatives, correspondents and international news agencies, and providing them with the necessary information to inform public opinion on the UAE's stances in various fields.  
 
The Council represents the country in media events and conferences inside and outside the country, grants licenses for media institutions in the country and follows up all publications and broadcasts inside the country.

During the Federal National Council's session held on 21st May 2013 to discuss NMC policy and the strategic plan of national media, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah gave a presentation on the national media strategy.

"We seek to develop media strategy that plays a key role in supporting and fortifying national and social values, in addition to contributing to develop journalism, aiding it to discharge its targeted role, to be an effective part of the country's system."

He added, "The strategy aims, in its frame and role, to deliver our media message abroad and support our national identity, in addition to establishing and creating a highly efficient national cadre, as well as re-organising the priorities of the NMC."

He added, "We want the NMC to be a lever for the development of the media sector in the country through a sharing plan with other media organisations, so as to develop the mechanisms to raise the media sector through various projects, including training and other specialised legislative frameworks that preserve and upgrade the level of media freedoms in the country".

There are more than 15 TV Channels originating in the country, in addition to the recent launch of the Arabic language satellite channel, "Sky News Arabia", from Abu Dhabi, which reaches over 50 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa.

There are 24 radio stations, nine Arabic daily newspapers, seven English language dailies and Emirates News Agency (WAM), the national news agency of the country, as well as literally hundreds of weekly and monthly magazines.

The NMC organises and supervises the U.A.E.'s participation in EXPO international exhibitions all over the world. On15th October 2012, the NMC signed a contract to participate in the Milan Expo 2015, along with more than 200 countries.

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah stated that the signing of the contract comes within the NMC's strategy to establish pavilions which reflect its cultural renaissance. The U.A.E.'s previous participation in Expos dates back to 1970 in Tokyo.

The U.A.E. Pavilion in Shanghai Expo 2010 was ranked first among the participating pavilions, its pavilion at Milan Expo 2012 won a place in the top ten, and the U.A.E. achieved success at Zaragoza Expo in Spain by winning the golden award of the exhibition. The U.A.E. pavilion also witnessed a huge turnout, receiving over one million visitors worldwide.

Since the beginning of the third millennium, the U.A.E. has established four free media zones in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah in order to keep up with the IT revolution and take advantage of global expertise in the media industry to reach international standards. In a short period of time, the country enticed major international companies to operate in these zones.

Twofour 54 is one of the media zones in Abu Dhabi, which has attracted over 214 of the world’s major companies in the field of media content.

Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (DTMFZA) includes over 1400 national and international media establishments. This includes Dubai Media Incorporated, which specialises in journalism, publishing, media and T.V broadcasting, advertising and publishing.

The Fujairah Media Group operates a free trade zone which works in four major fields, radio, television, publishing and media services.

 The U.A.E. currently hosts the up-link facilities for 86 Arab satellite channels, representing 13.3 per cent of the total number of satellite channels in Arab countries.

 The U.A.E. Journalists Association is elected directly from the National Assembly of Journalists from U.A.E. nationals working in media institutions. The assembly is a member of the Arab Journalists Union, Asian Journalists Association and other international journalist associations.

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