Khalifa bin Zayed: Historical leadership building national pride, achieving well-being of citizens
The UAE has laid the foundation of more outstanding national achievements in all areas, as it continues its blessed federal march under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The country now occupies a prominent place among the best modern advanced countries in the world.
These achievements were accomplished as a result of the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in close collaboration with UAE Vice- President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, and His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces along with other Crown Princes.
In addition to the sincere efforts of citizens and their absolute confidence in their leadership, as confirmed by the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 of the World Economic Forum, in which the UAE was ranked third in terms of high confidence in political leadership, among 148 countries in the world.
The United Arab Emirates has topped the list of Arab countries and ranked 14th worldwide in the UN's World Happiness and Satisfaction second survey, announced in 2013.
The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan accomplished with wisdom the nation’s establishment phase with all its challenges, and took the UAE from zero into an era of progress, raising the nation in record time to be among the ranks of developed countries.
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa had previously stressed, on the 33rd anniversary of the UAE, that the nation’s great achievements, the peace and tranquility the country enjoys today, were the fruit of the long and tedious march, hard work and perseverance led by the UAE's great leader, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Sheikh Khalifa said the great UAE leader led this country with great wisdom and judiciously tapped the country's resources to achieve a comfortable and decent life for both UAE nationals and expatriates living in this country.
Sheikh Khalifa added, "We feel honoured by this anniversary of the blessed federation march.
“Now, it is a new phase of national work that we embark upon, using the wise approach of the late great leader as our guidance in every step that we take forward and in every element of work that we do.
“We shall remain committed to working together, shoulder to shoulder with my brother, His Highness. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and my brethren Their Highnesses Members of the Supreme Council and Rulers of the Emirates."
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is one of the historical leaders known for giving over 45 years of devoted work in the service of the homeland and the citizens.
Sheikh Khalifa gained his rich historical experience from spending his life close to his father, the founder of the state, during the various phases of national work, which he confirmed in an interview in 1990, saying: "My father was the teacher from whom I learnt everything, following his path and being inspired by his adulthood, authentic values and patience."
In his speech on the occasion of the 34th National Day, Sheikh Khalifa said, "Considering the developments in our region, which is now witnessing significant transformations and reforms, the years ahead in our blessed march of progress require a bigger role for the Federal National Council by empowering it to be an authority that will provide great support and guidance for the executive arm of the government.
“We shall work to make the Council more capable, more effective and more sensitive to the issues affecting the nation and the people.
“This would be done by ensuring a more participatory process and the entrenchment of "Shura" (consultations) policy.
“Through a gradual, organised course, we have decided to re-energise the role of the FNC by electing half of its members through councils for each emirate and appointing the other half."
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, while receiving FNC Speaker Mohammed Ahmed Al Murr, reiterated his commitment to strengthening the role of the Federal National Council.
He also asserted his keenness on supporting the FNC to ensure its active participation in the development of national work, in the building of a state of law and in the consolidation of the Shura approach that will take into account the peculiarities of the customs and traditions of the people of the UAE, its heritage and the components of its social and cultural fabric.
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan launched the "Future Strategy" in 2007
and the initiative of the "National Identity".
He has said that the United Arab Emirates would stay on the course of democracy to ensure greater participation and empowerment in the Federal National Council.
"The last year witnessed an important development with regard to political empowerment and the practice of democracy, as the FNC's 14th legislative session has had half of its members elected, with women representing 22% of the total number of FNC members."
He continued, "We remain committed to continuing our democratic change until we achieve all planned goals through paving the way for and offering the chance for more participation, and through enhancing the role of the FNC as a legislative and monitoring power."
To keep in line with this trend and to support it, His Highness maintained, ''We call for the implementation of a national programme that aims to strengthen our identity and deepen the values of belonging and of citizenship, as well as providing the required conditions in society that reflect our country as an example of an open modern society whose values are consistent with our beliefs and our heritage."
Sheikh Khalifa also called for a programme that sets out a clear vision of the objectives of the UAE's experiment in elections and associated mechanisms, and for an expansion of the authority of the FNC.
The President made it clear that shedding light on future strategies and visions does not mean that ''we should overlook the present with its challenges and problems."
President Khalifa, in the opening session of the Federal National Council session on February 12, 2007, launched the "Development Project" of the U.A.E. in the framework of the empowerment strategy, a project that embodies the hopes and aspirations of U.A.E's citizens.
Sheikh Khalifa called on FNC members to "Give maximum boost to development efforts and take on a positive and advisory role as well as give sound opinion to further drive forward the process of developing and building our country." Sheikh Khalifa further called FNC members to "shoulder their national responsibility, be involved in interaction, to give and preserve the development march established by the U.A.E. Father and Founder, the Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan."
He also expressed appreciation for all former FNC members in the House's previous sessions, affirming his support in all ways to boost this democratic experience and achieve the nation's goals.
"The leadership and citizens have faith in you. You are expected to adopt the concerns of the nation and citizens as your top priority, to put public interest and common well-being above any other considerations and to advance giving and development efforts to top levels," Sheikh Khalifa told FNC members.
Objectives of the Empowerment Process
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa pledged, in his second term, to continue the implementation of ambitious new strategies to promote the political, economic, social and cultural empowerment programmes of development which the he launched in his first term.
On another occasion President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan stressed that the leadership and the UAE people are confident to continue steadily and consistently the implementation of what have been adopted in terms of strategies and plans.
He added that "The huge achievements attained were not the end in themselves, but the top priority was, and still is, to build national capacity and launch human energy directed toward the horizons of excellence, innovation and competition."
Sheikh Khalifa underscored that the transformations experienced by the UAE economy do not come from a vacuum, but through the regulations and standards to establish a new economic model, based on the philosophy and practices of community-based components.
"We would like to assure everyone that our country is stronger and better off, since our economy is fine and our society enjoys welfare.
“The global financial crisis in its severity will not be a reason for hesitation or retreat, not a justification to lead us to despair or inaction."
He added, "On this great day, I offer you my sincere congratulations as you celebrate the 38th anniversary of the unification of our country, the Declaration of our Union, and the founding of the nation.
“On your behalf, I appreciate deeply Their Highnesses the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, who lead the triumphant march to instil the principles of justice, equality and equal opportunities.
"It is a great event through which we get inspiration and entertain patriotic meanings and lessons. We evaluate the present process, reflect on the visions of future, derive strength and determination to move in the course and vision outlined by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his late brothers. They will remain as role models."
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has stressed that the government was working hard to achieve social development, to improve quality of life and to realise its developmental goals through a comprehensive national vision that aims to provide excellent educational standards, adequate housing and world class healthcare services.
"The perfection of work is a necessity of life. It is an essential element to continue the achievements of our forefathers, through which we can build a capable national workforce, restructure our economy, address the imbalance in the labour market and prepare a well-balanced and thriving community.
“As our nation is bracing for another year of achievements, we assure you that we are moving from strength to strength, and that we are reaping the fruits sowed by our forefathers in terms of best practices, building the nation's institutional and legislative frameworks, enjoying a strong, diversified and free economy, a modern infrastructure, a sustainable social development, enhanced cultural and societal identity and most importantly, preparing capable and skilful human resources.
Human resources are the true wealth of nations. Our policy is based on the commitment to the principles of the UAE constitution.
“We have always advocated unity and solidarity to achieve the ultimate goal of modern and prosperous UAE."
"In parallel with this effort, the government needs to give special and exceptional attention to the development of remote areas in a way that would guarantee a balance in social and economic development at the national level. Different projects are being implemented there.
Various steps have also been taken to establish a rich cultural and social life that promotes equality of rights and duties among citizens and allows them to participate in policy and decision making in full compliance with the norms and laws that are safeguarded by capable law enforcement agencies and a fair judicial system that fosters the respect for people's rights and dignity.
"In order to enrich that, a national strategy must be adopted to care for the youth, to encourage sports and to promote youth centres and public libraries, to utilise spare time in useful activities, to develop the skills and to instil the culture of openness and acceptance to others. It is also important to expand cultural activities and to encourage arts, science and intellectual creativeness.
“We are extremely proud of the achievements made by UAE women who participate vigorously in public life and who are capable of playing more roles. The efforts being made to promote the culture of volunteerism deserve our commendation."
Empowerment of the Citizen's Project
Sheikh Khalifa said: "It is a project for renaissance and a continuous action plan. The selection of the ''Spirit of the Union'' as a theme for this year's celebration is a true expression of the genuine experiment which veritably embodies the originality, values and special nature of the reality of the UAE.
"Keeping the Union's spirit alive is something that can be achieved through the empowerment of UAE citizens who are the top national priority and the focus of the vision for the future that guides all strategies and policies that the government will adopt, in all sectors, over the next ten years.
"Empowerment of the citizen is our project for the next ten years of the Union - a project through which we will lay the ground for a more confident and strong national personality and whose driving force and cornerstone will be an active Emirati who is proud of his stable and coherent family and of his well-founded, dynamic community where security and justice prevail, where the values of voluntary work and of initiative are highly recognised, with a forward-thinking, modern learning system, advanced, high quality health services, a knowledge-based sustainable and diversified economy, an integrated infrastructure, a sustainable environment, well-conserved natural resources and, finally, an eminent status on the international stage.
"I have a word for all leaders: Heed the voices of the people, take them into consideration while you are planning, setting goals and making decisions. In a world that has diverse organs of mass communications and platforms for social contacts, it is necessary for governments to seek the best and effective tools of communication with the citizen everywhere, to listen to his voice, to learn about his trends and to respond to his aspirations.
"This requires that we should pay attention and that we should listen", Sheikh Khalifa added while addressing the leaders.
He continued, "Based on that, we assert that broadening popular participation is a firm national trend and an irrevocable option which we have chosen with our full will. We will continue to take it further forward, gradually and steadily, in response to the aspirations of our people for a homeland for which they can come forward together to serve and develop its society".
Inaugurating the second ordinary session of the 15th Legislative Chapter of the Federal National Council, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa emphasised in a speech delivered on his behalf by the Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the commitment that exists to maintain the constitution and to preserve rights and freedoms, these being the pillars of political work at all the institutions.
He said: "We are going forward firmly to bring our political experience to its desired ends so as to achieve development and expand participation. We are also looking forward to the pivotal role of the FNC, as a supportive and control authority to further strengthen the government with its visions and innovative ideas."
Sheikh Khalifa noted that the FNC had witnessed a qualitative development with regards to the experiment in expansion of participation that resulted in the holding of the second elections on September 24, 2011.
He added that this was one of the phases of the gradualist political empowerment programme launched in 2005 to activate the role of the FNC.
The UAE President underlined that the UAE constitution protects rights and freedoms. "This makes the UAE a paradise for citizens and expatriates. All live in peace in a tolerant community that is free from segregation and injustice."
Sheikh Khalifa said that Emirati women received full support from the leadership, noting that they have exhibited ability and responsibility and have come to occupy top jobs. "I called upon my daughters to sustain the efficiency and dedication they have demonstrated so far.
"Your membership in this Council is a great trust and responsibility," he told its members. "Governance here belongs to those who have bestowed their trust on you. So be solicitous to maintain your eligibility to have received this trust and be committed to the interests of the country and the citizens."
Sheikh Khalifa called on the FNC members to communicate always with fellow citizens and to protect the bond between the various segments of Emirati society "in our quest to entrench the culture of consultation and participation in decision-making, as well as to emphasise the importance of individual opinions in formulating the opinion of society."
The UAE won membership of the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year term starting from early 2013.
The country was elected in a secret ballot conducted by the UN General Assembly in which 21 candidate countries from 18 geographical groups competed for 18 vacant seats.
The UAE received 184 votes, the highest vote turnout of the total votes garnered by the four winning Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Japan, Korea and Pakistan) and the second highest votes of the total 18 winners.
This achievement reflects the respect and admiration paid by the international community to the UAE under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Initiatives to Promote National Cohesion
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced the launch of a new housing programme that aims to build 10,000 housing units throughout all regions of the emirates as a gift to his people on the 41st national day.
''It is our belief that housing forms the basis of psychological, social and economic stability for local families and so it is within our constant remit to provide a suitable lifestyle for all our citizens.
The Follow-up Committee, formed by our direct order, will immediately co-ordinate with the federal and local authorities concerned in order to speed up this project's implementation. It will achieve its goals by creating conditions that will help members of our community to flourish in a healthy family environment,'' the President said on one occasion.
Sheikh Khalifa also gave instructions for developing the abilities of the young workforce.
''We directed that a committee be established, under the direct supervision of the Cabinet.
"One of its main responsibilities is that of Emiratisation in both the public and private sectors, through enactment of the laws that guarantee jobs for citizens. The Committee will also be responsible for encouraging co-operation with the private sector to train Emiratis and provide them with the knowledge and experience they need, thereby increasing employment opportunities for the national cadre.
"We recall, with gratitude, the efforts of our founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his late brothers the members of the Supreme Council, whose unstinting efforts led to the upholding of the principles of a country of which we are all proud and defend its sovereignty. We pray that their souls may rest in peace.
''Our union is the safety valve of our country, and our unity is the strong shield of our glorious achievements; in fact, it is the source of our unyielding strength,'' he emphasised.
The declaration of the Union, he added, represented a historical moment. Our forefathers formed this country based on piety and the most noble of ethics, devoting themselves to the interests of the people and the nation. We are following their path, affirming that justice is the basis of governance, ensuring the rule of law, achieving social equality and providing a decent life: all these form the pillars of society and are fundamental rights, guaranteed by the Constitution and protected by a fair and independent judiciary.
''On this day, we call for further collective efforts to strengthen our march. Protection of the Union is an indisputable national objective. Awareness, unity and cohesion are required in order to uphold its values, to consolidate its pillars, and to sustain the continuous co-operation between the federal and local agencies.
''With our commitment to balanced development nationwide, we have launched a package of highly-focused initiatives aimed at focusing the government's efforts and harnessing the country's financial resources. These initiatives will aim to develop the infrastructure and the basic services in all emirates and regions, giving precedence to those development projects that directly affect people's lives.
''The successive initiatives that we have launched over the last few years are intended to improve the quality of life for our people and achieve their ambitions in a prosperous future. It is our duty to deliver on these endeavours and consider them top priority. The concerned institutions should continue with the implementation of these initiatives, by solving any obstacles, in order to transform them into tangible projects with effective results''.
Sheikh Khalifa affirmed:'' We shall proceed with the gradual approach that we have chosen to broaden the basis for popular participation in decision-making. We shall continue our efforts to reach a viable political model that reflects our realities and play in harmony with the nature of our own society. Yet, such a model should be compatible with the level of advancement that we have made so far in terms of economic progress, and urban, civil and human development. We feel deeply satisfied with the country's level of achievements, and shall thus remain confident about the promising prospects of a bright future for our citizens.
He noted the UAE political model will be truly nationalistic, preserving national identity and protecting established principles. ''It is a model to which all of our fellow citizens and national institutions shall contribute, especially our national elite. Our intellectuals, creative men and women, scientists, teachers, artists, engineers and doctors are the true treasure of our nation, and their role in mobilising the capabilities of our people is indispensable.
On the 29th of November, HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced the 'Absher' Initiative launched by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a programme designed to strengthen participation of the national cadre in the labour market.
Sheikh Mohammed, attending the launch ceremony, lauded this national initiative and said:" This outstanding initiative by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is an addition to his numerous national and humanitarian initiatives. For him, the citizen comes the first, second and third and the Absher is a great initiative".
Sheikh Mansour stressed that the initiative receives the attention and care of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, out of his keenness to provide a decent life for the citizens and promote job stability for them.
Infrastructure Development Initiatives
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, after he was briefed from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, U.A.E. Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, on the result of his field tour to a number of remote areas, ordered to allocate AED 16 billion for the implementation of a complete infrastructure throughout the state, to harness the necessary resources in order to provide a better life for U.A.E's citizens, and to ensure the highest quality of infrastructure across the UAE
The Follow up Committee of Initiatives of U.A.E. President, headed by Ahmed Juma Al Zaabi, Deputy Minister for Presidential Affairs, has accomplished a large number of developmental, strategic and services projects, which included thousands of residential units.
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on March 2, ordered an increase of investments in the northern areas of the country in the water and electricity sectors to reach to AED five billion and 700 million, after Sheikh Khalifa was briefed by Sheikh Mohammed on the results of the tour he made upon his directives to make the needs of citizens as the highest priority of the government as well as to inspect the level of services provided to citizens by governmental departments.
In this regard, His Highness directed that Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority to export electricity and the required amount of water to the Federal Electricity and Water Authority, to enable it to provide the needs of all citizens in the northern areas of the state.
HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs on November 6, 2013, revealed a new package of initiatives and projects announced by His Highness the Head of the State targeted citizens in the northern and eastern parts of the country, to meet their requirements and needs of infrastructure projects and services.
Generous National Giving
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has his finger on the pulse of the needs of both citizens and residents, he is also keen to follow up on their circumstances and their living conditions to help them overcome the difficulties and to provide a decent life for them.
This was embodied in his generous vital decisions including exempting citizens and residents students of the fees of the study, and the settlement and processing of citizens' loans with banks, in addition to increasing salaries and allowances of workers in the country, the payment of the debts of thousands of prisoners , and support various segments of the society and achieve social stability.
His Highness is also keen to work on empowering young citizens through the establishment of Khalifa Fund for Emiratisation Empowerment, and Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development for their economic and social uplift.
Upon directives from President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 15th August, 2012, all expatriate students at Abu Dhabi public schools have been exempted from overdue tuition fees.
This generous initiative by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan aims to provide decent life and stability for all residents of the UAE and to relieve families from financial burdens. The number of beneficiaries in the last five years amounted to more than 180,000 student from 700 government school.
This comes in line with Abu Dhabi Government strategy which places education as a top priority and considers it a cornerstone for development and growth. Moreover, this generous initiative emphasizes the keenness of UAE prudent leadership to achieve excellence and put the UAE at par with leading nations promoting creativity and world competitiveness.
Back in 2007/2008, Sheikh Khalifa has instructed Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation to bear tuition fees of Emirati students at model schools as well as expat students at public schools.
The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation launched, in September 2011 for the fourth year in a row, its humanitarian project entitled " "In-kind assistance to students of the academic year 2011 - 2012", benefitting about 27,215 students attending 650 schools across the country.
Debt Settlement Fund
Out of his care for his citizens social stability and welfare and keenness to provide them with a dignified life, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered settlement of defaulting personal loans of 6,830 citizens for an amount of about AED 2 billion.
The presidential gesture would settle all the personal loans of citizens, whose debts are less than one million Dirhams, be they in detention, pending trial or convicted or settling their debts through installment schedules set by the courts.
Those in prisons will be released and have their loans settled in accordance with the specific settlement mechanisms, including deduction of 25 per cent from their monthly salaries, with an undertaking from a beneficiary not to borrow again until the loan is settled.
Towards these ends, the President set up a Dh10 billion fund to put an end to the phenomenon of personal loans which poses a burden on the citizens with low income. The fund has carried out a survey in cooperation with the Central Bank to assess the level of the default. The fund aims to encourage saving and to incentivize citizens not to fall into debt traps again.
The initiative aims to alleviate the suffering of citizens who cannot pay back their loans.
His Highness Sheikh Khalifa has also ordered the settlement of defaulting personal loans of citizens whose debts are less than AED 5 million, be they in detention, pending trial or convicted, or settling their debts through installment schedules set by the courts.
The number of Emiratis covered by the Presidential Decree was 368, whose defaulting debts amounted to about AED 568 million. The number of detainees to whom sentences have been issued was 60 citizens who were defaulting on total amounts of about AED 68.8 million.
Ahmad Juma Al Za'abi, Deputy Minister for Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Supreme Committee of the Debts Settlement Fund for Citizens, said the presidential decree reflects the keenness of Sheikh Khalifa to provide good living conditions and family stability to the citizens. He added that the Fund continues work to settle all defaulting loans, taking into account the size of beneficiary categories, nature of loans and the defaulting cases.
Agreements were signed with lender banks, stipulating that the defaulting personal loans of 6,830 citizens, worth about AED2 billion, will be paid off, and cases against the defaulters will be dropped immediately. 88 banks were involved in the debt settlement process.
The number of those released in bad-cheque cases was 127. The amount settled for these citizens stood at Dh122 million in cases with banks and finance companies.
Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development
The Khalifa Fund is one of Sheikh Khalifa s landmark business initiatives to help develop local enterprises and provide financial services to support the development of Emirati entrepreneurs and SMEs through specialised programmes. The fund also offers non-financial support services, such as consultancy, training, business idea development and market data.
Launched on 3rd June 2007 with a total capital investment of Dh2 billion, the fund aims to create a new generation of Emirati entrepreneurs by instilling and enriching the culture of investment amongst young people, as well as supporting and developing small to medium-sized investments in the Emirate.
The fund backed 149 projects during 2012, with a total amount of Dh53.3 million, where the fund’s performance came in line with its strategic plans.
Hussain Jassim Al Nowais, the Chairman of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, said, "The funded projects were distributed between all economic segments in the United Arab Emirates. The investment visibility and the added value plus the entrepreneur commitment are the essential standards to receive the required funds.
"The number of funded projects increased since the launch of Khalifa Fund s services in 2007 to 460 projects, with a total value of Dh758 million, which is distributed all over the United Arab Emirates," added Al Nowais.
From its establishment until end of 2012, the Fund approved 73 projects through Khutwa (microfinance programme), 260 through Bedaya (start-up programme), 100 projects through Zeyada (loan expansion programme) in addition to 8 projects through Tasnea (industrial programme), and 4 projects through Al Hasela programme which targets fishermen.
The Fund s database shows that the Khalifa Fund has approved funding for 122 projects in the industry sector for a total amount of Dh300 million, 41 projects in agriculture with a total amount of Dh41.1 million, 207 projects in the services sector with a total amount of Dh276.7 million, in addition to Dh2 million which was allocated to fund three tourism projects, and 105 projects in the commercial sector with a total value of Dh137.7 million.
Al Nowais continued, "The Fund will continue its effort to develop its services and to introduce new and innovative initiatives in order to prepare and empower a good business environment for entrepreneurs and the owners of small and medium sized enterprises and to support them to achieve their positive role in supporting the economy of Abu Dhabi in particular and the national economy in general."
The Fund gave a financial donation of Dh4 million for an Aquaponics Project to produce vegetables and fish, which benefited 40 Emiratis with special needs.
In September 2013, the Fund launched a programme called Ziraai to support citizens working in the agricultural sector by providing training and marketing services, and giving loans of up to Dh1 million interest-free per farmer. The programme is in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Farmers Services Centre.
The agricultural programme, the first of its kind in the country, will provide comprehensive solutions and financing for the agricultural sector.
It aims to cultivate growth in the agricultural sector by helping farmers to improve the marketability, profitability and efficiency of their farms through cutting edge technology; for instance, by switching to innovative methods that reduce water consumption.
The Fund has signed a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding for marketing farm products that are funded and supported by the Khalifa Fund, covering cooperative societies, major shopping centres and others.
President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan ordered the release of 1097 prisoners on the occasion of the country's 41st National Day.
The pardon underscored the President's desire to give inmates a chance to start a new life and ease the suffering of their families.
Sheikh Khalifa is recognised for pardoning prisoners and waiving their financial liabilities on religious and national occasions.
On 29th April 2013, the President ordered the release of 103 Egyptian prisoners.
The President also pledged to settle the prisoners' financial obligations that came as a result of their sentences.
The pardon underlines the president's keenness to offer the released prisoners the opportunity to start a new life and alleviate the suffering of their families.
Sheikh Khalifa has issued decrees granting citizenship to 1,117 children of UAE women married to foreigners who satisfied the requirements for citizenship. The children will be granted full UAE citizenship once they reach 18 years old.
The decision reflects the President s keenness to achieve greater family stability and provide a decent life for all.
They are granted the same rights as any other Emirati regarding education, health benefits and employment.
On 28th November 2013, the President issued a further decree, granting citizenship to 500 children of Emirati women, who meet the conditions necessary to acquire the citizenship.
President Khalifa, in February 2011, ordered the establishment of the Khalifa Fund for Emiratisation Empowerment to support the policy of empowerment and boost economic and social development in the country.
The establishment of the fund came in support of the empowerment policy initiated by Sheikh Khalifa to advance socio-economic development plans, provision of decent living means and stability to U.A.E. citizens.
The new fund aims to provide the financial resources necessary to support programmes and policies for encouraging U.A.E. citizens to join the job market and make most of job opportunities available in both the public and private sectors.
The fund will offer a package of incentives to encourage citizens to join the job market, especially the private sector, and will enable Emiratis to make most of job opportunities offered by this sector.
The package of incentives the Fund will offer includes payment of financial privileges when a U.A.E. citizen joins work in the private sector so as to reduce the pay gap between the public and private sectors, allocation of funds to employers to help them cover a certain percentage of the pay the national private sector employees will draw in the first year, funding part of training and rehabilitation costs of the new national employee when he joins the private sector for the first year and contributions to long and short term training programmes for national job seekers.
It will act as a key contributing mechanism to leverage participation of citizens and develop the social welfare concept into a new one that enables social assistance recipients to become a productive force contributing to the growth of the national economy.
It will also serve as a mechanism for facilitating the success of Emiratisation policies and programmes and increasing the share of small size businesses owned by UAE citizens in a way that generates more job opportunities.
A generous philanthropist
Sheikh Khalifa is considered one of the world s most generous philanthropists and donors and in recognition of his far-reaching charitable and developmental initiatives across the world to alleviate the suffering of needy persons and disaster-hit people, he has been given numerous prestigious awards, including the Sheikh Rashid Humanitarian Personality of the Year (2011) and receives praise from international organisations for his support for humanitarian causes.
His humanitarian philosophy was crowned in 2007 when he established The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation with the vision of "Pioneering Initiatives for Welfare". Its strategies are focused on health and education on domestic, regional and global scales.
The Foundation aims to take the initiative in serving humanity through significant assistance to those in need, encouraging tolerance among people to serve the needy in different parts of the globe, extending bridges of cooperation with domestic and world organisations involved in humanitarian work, providing financial support to various care giving programmes, and spreading the culture of social integration in Emirati society while encouraging all aspects of voluntary work.
Its massive qualitative humanitarian oversees works have changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in need in 70 countries for the better, drawing praise and appreciation from major UN organisations.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for the Palestinian refugees (UNRWA ) said, "The Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation is one of UNRWA s most supportive donors in the Gulf. In addition to regular food support for the neediest refugees in the West Bank and Gaza, the Foundation contributed to the Agency s 'Adopt-a-School Initiative, for the academic years 2010 and 2012, by adopting a school, named Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Elementary Boys School.
"This generous support allows us to ensure that existing UNRWA schools are serving pupils well, giving these refugee children the best possible chance of securing a bright future. We are deeply grateful to the Foundation and its Patron, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, for this partnership with UNRWA."
UNHCR's Representative in Pakistan, Neil Wright, has lauded the outstanding and unprecedented role of the United Arab Emirates under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in improving the difficult humanitarian conditions faced by the people in Pakistan due to floods and natural disasters.
Wright praised the UAE's benevolence and march of goodness, laid down by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, encompassing almost every country in the world, saying, "The legacy is continued by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan under the system of charitable and humanitarian work for the United Arab Emirates."
The UN official said that he was following-up with pride and appreciation the projects implemented by the U.A.E. in Pakistan as per the directives and initiatives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. One of the pilot projects through the UAE Project to Assist Pakistan (PAP), the provision of the necessary infrastructure of roads, bridges, schools and hospitals, health centres, basic services and the provision of water for the people of Pakistan who have faced difficult circumstances over the past years, will guarantee them the means to a decent life.
On the delivery of 49 schools in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and South Waziristan, Neil Wright said that these schools established by the U.A.E. will always be remembered by the future generations and contribute effectively in the current education system.
He praised the efforts of the U.A.E. in the establishment of the first training and rehabilitation centre for women in Pakistan, which will be an important and necessary addition to improve the conditions of the families and women in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He also mentioned the vital infrastructure projects carried out by the U.A.E. in Pakistan, including the Sheikh Zayed Bridge and Sheikh Khalifa Bridge on the Swat river, and the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Road in Waziristan, pointing out that these development projects will help ease the plight of the people in the affected areas. "These vital projects, especially roads and bridges, are essential for Pakistani people in order to help them to move from place to another," he asserted.
Lynn Hastings, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Pakistan, also hailed the humanitarian initiative by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to launch the U.A.E. project to Assist Pakistan (PAP) to alleviate the suffering of the victims of the floods that devastated Pakistan two years ago, saying "The UAE's humanitarian experience is unique.
She praised the initiatives undertaken by the UAE's Project to implement development projects and aid programmes worth $110 million in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
These initiatives contributed to the promotion of stability in a number of countries and helped underprivileged communities and individuals.
"Children and their families in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region will always remember those who rushed to help them when that earthquake hit Pakistan in 2010," she noted.
From 2011 to the end of 2012, PAP carried out 106 projects worth US$ 127 million. I n October 2013, Sheikh Khalifa allocated a further US$184.2 million for funding 21 more projects.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has welcomed the initiative of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the provision of humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Andrew Harper, UNHCR representative to Jordan, welcomed the move and referred to the depth of strategic relations between the UAE and UNHCR in service of the Syrian refugees in Jordan.
He added that the UAE has so far provided US$25 million as relief and humanitarian assistance to the Syrian refugees in Jordan.
The UAE further announced US$300 million as financial aid to support the humanitarian situation in Syria.
The UAE, under the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, initiated humanitarian work since the beginning of the events in Syria, to fulfill its responsibilities in providing relief to Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, and has supported Arab and International initiatives aimed at putting an end to the tragedy and suffering as well as achieving their legitimate aspirations in having a free and decent life.
The Representative of the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Yemen, Geert Cappelaere, said the initiatives launched by the U.A.E. for Yemen enhance efforts to alleviate suffering from food shortages and minimise the consequences on the life of Yemenis in the governorates which are the most affected by the crisis.
On the instructions of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE announced support and assistance programmes and projects to the value of US$10 million to the Philippines.
The UAE extended its deepest sympathies for the loss of life and property caused by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines.
A spokesman for the fund said, "The UAE stands by the people of the Philippines in these tragic circumstances and commends the Government of the Philippines and its emergency workers for making all possible efforts in providing aid and relief to the victims."
The UAE believes that the international community must stand together in times like these and assist the relief efforts. With this contribution, the UAE government affirmed its deep solidarity with those affected by this natural disaster in the Philippines.
The Ministry of Presidential Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Egypt's Al-Azhar, to provide Dh155 million in funds to support the University's educational and cultural projects.
According to the MoU, the funds will be used to construct a new building for the Al-Azhar library to house some 50000 precious manuscripts and publications, to secure the current assets by state-of-the-art electronic control and security systems and to construct accommodation units for the university's students.
The MoU expresses the appreciation of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the role Al-Azhar plays in service of the Islamic nation and is in continuation of the ongoing support by the UAE sisterly people of Egypt within the framework of historic and fraternal relations between the two countries.
"The UAE, under the leadership of Sheikh Khalifa, takes pride in this great seat of Islamic learning which has become a prominent centre for enlightenment and an authority for the promotion of Islam's tolerance and moderation," a UAE official said.
Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayeb expressed his appreciation of the initiative by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and valued the role taken up by the UAE in service of the causes of the Islamic nation and the Arab nation.
Sheikh Abdul Tawwab Abdul Hakim Qutob, the Undersecretary of Al-Azhar, said the UAE never spares any effort to help Egypt. "The Emirati brother's support for cooperation between the two countries is evident and our fraternal ties with them are very ancient. We pray to Allah to keep these ties and relations for the good of the two sisterly peoples," he added.
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