Globalisation poses a threat to national identity and the best defence is careful strategic development, officials were told on the first day of a conference held to preserve the UAE’s cultural identity.
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, has declared 2008 the Year of UAE National Identity.
And he has encouraged new strategies to protect it from the negative impact of globalisation, while at the same time engaging with the world to promote sustainable national progress.
To observe and celebrate a year of awareness, the Ministry of Culture launched a two-day forum on Tuesday called the UAE National Identity Conference.
“The forum is an important and key event in the calendar of the country, heralding a new era of discussing mechanisms and developing strategies and policies that will ensure preservation of our national identity in this era of globalisation,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan addressed the conference about the country’s foreign policy. Other speakers called for immediate action.
He urged the government to open the door for naturalisation of GCC citizens so that the gap between nationals and expats is narrowed.
“We have many challenges. Look at this picture [he said, pointing to a photograph of a square flooded with hundreds of expatriate workers]. Does it show it is the UAE?
“We need to narrow this demographic gap, we need to balance it.
“This needs measures and initiatives to preserve our language, draw a new demographic strategy, educate the expat labour force and allow other GCC citizens to get citizenship and vice versa.”
He also called for initiatives to encourage a higher birth rate among nationals.
Call to correct demographic imbalance