Interview: Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
What have been identified as priorities for national policy development in order to achieve the objectives outlined in the UAE Vision 2021?
SHEIKH MANSOUR BIN ZAYED AL NAHYAN: The priorities of Vision 2021 are inspired by the 2005 National Programme of Action, issued by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and approved by the members of the Supreme Council and rulers of the emirates. This programme has clearly identified the UAE’s national priorities until 2021, when we will celebrate our country’s silver jubilee.
These include empowering citizens by building their skills and knowledge to ensure their effective participation in the UAE’s sustainable development; building a knowledge-based economy that is competitive, diversified, sustainable and highly productive; achieving the optimum levels of social justice and guaranteeing the enforcement of the rule of law on all, with fairness and transparency; providing highly developed social services in health, education, security and recreation; achieving the highest levels of social welfare in a sustainable environment; and enhancing the UAE’s international standing by pursuing an active, balanced and open foreign policy, based on the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other nations, respect for international law and provision of development aid.
What is being done to promote transparency and enhance government performance?
SHEIKH MANSOUR: Since the UAE’s inception in 1971, we have remained fully aware that transparency is a key pillar of good governance. In this respect, the government continues to take action, such as the continuous, direct interaction by the president and the rulers of the individual emirates with citizens, through a combination of traditional venues and modern channels of communication. These include open majlis, as well as direct encounters with the locals in remote areas, to engage with them and listen to their valuable comments and recommendations. These informal meetings allow quick responses to address citizens’ grievances.
We are also developing legislation, combined with the continuous improvement of judicial capabilities, to secure the rights of all parties, in line with the applicable laws; establishing regulatory organs – such as the UAE State Audit Institution, which audits all the activities of the federal ministries and government agencies – to ensure compliance with all valid legislation; and overseeing a gradual broadening of public participation through the direct election of half of the members of the UAE’s Federal National Council (FNC).
The FNC has been granted more regulatory and legislative powers, and various emirates have established their own consultative councils to enhance the relationship between the local, emirate-wide government and wider civil entities. We are also encouraging the free flow of information, to ensure all data concerning financial affairs and the administrative transactions of the government’s ministries and public institutions are made available to the regulatory institutions concerned, such as and including the FNC.
How are investment funds contributing to the diversification and sustainability of the UAE's economy?
SHEIKH MANSOUR: There are various types of sovereign wealth funds in the UAE, some of them owned by the federal government and some by the local governments. The main objective of these funds is to make available the financial resources to maintain the welfare of future generations. They will reduce the adverse effects of shocks, fluctuations and volatile oil prices on our economy. They use their assets in diverse, long-term investments within the UAE and beyond, generally refraining from short-term speculation and seeking to promote long-term global financial stability.
The second type of funds, such as the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, provide aid to developing countries in the form of concessionary loans and grants. The aim is to finance development projects to support efforts to achieve sustainable socio-economic development in developing countries. Sustainability, according to the UN agencies, is inextricably linked to basic questions of equality — that is, fairness, social justice and greater access to a better quality of life. We believe that these funds fulfil these objectives in the most effective manner, as proven by our high ratings in the international reports on human development.
What is being done to enhance Emiratisation initiatives and foster the development of youth so they are prepared to lead in the future?
SHEIKH MANSOUR: In 2005 the president launched the empowerment programme, which gradually enhances the status of individual citizens and expands the levels of participation among various segments of society in the development process. To achieve the empowerment programme’s objectives, the government has launched many initiatives in education, training and employment to produce an innovative, qualified workforce that is able to handle the task of nation-wide socio-economic development and participate effectively in managing the public affairs of their homeland. It is in this context that the president announced the Absher Initiative to promote the participation of national cadres in the UAE labour market, particularly the private sector, added to which the government declared 2013 as the Year of Emiratisation. The government is also carrying out an overall revision of the Labour Law of 1980, to provide an environment conducive to encouraging Emirati youth to join this vital sector. The UAE will harness the full potential of its national human capital by maximising the participation of Emiratis, encouraging entrepreneurship and nurturing home-grown public and private sector leaders, while attracting and retaining the best talent. Promising Emiratis must be nurtured to become captains of industry and dynamic entrepreneurs, marshalling the country’s resources to bring innovative products to the marketplace. Others will be groomed as senior public officials, trusted to hold the levers of economic change and empowered by knowledge to steer the economy to the cutting edge of innovation.
How are the rule of law, as well as the rights of citizens and residents, being safeguarded to ensure security and socio-economic development?
SHEIKH MANSOUR: Justice is the basis of rule in the UAE and equality before the law, freedom, security, trust, social inclusion and equal opportunity are the main pillars of the stable society the UAE provides for its citizens, residents and visitors. We uphold the universal principle of legality that advocates no crime without law and no penalty without law. Our judicial and legislative bodies do not enact laws on a retrospective basis, and our legislators incorporate the relevant international conventions and laws into our national legislation and laws. Our legal system ensures the fairness and transparency of the judicial authority. With this in mind, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department is embarking on an era of modernisation, inspired and guided by the vision of the president to ensure justice that fosters citizens’ and residents’ rights, promotes equality and ensures security as well as socio-economic development.
Key emphasis is also being placed on incorporating state-of-the-art IT capabilities in pursuit of modernisation and the achievements of the strategic plan’s objectives for development of the judicial and administrative systems. Such technologies will play a pivotal role in nurturing staff capabilities, performance improvements, increasing efficiency, simplifying procedures and strengthening the lines of communication among different stakeholders. These efforts to build a strong, efficient and transparent system are in line with the UAE’s strategic mission. The rule of law is sacred to us, and we continuously seek to develop our legislation and judicial institutions in line with the best international advances, to enhance the capability of the judiciary in protecting the legal rights of contracting parties and provide a favourable business environment for economically feasible investments, with good social returns.
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