Viewpoint: Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan
The UAE has been moving steadily towards achieving its development goals through flexible strategies that set the country apart, allowing it to overcome the challenges and turn the changes witnessed by the region and the world today into meaningful opportunities. It does this through the resolve and determination of its leadership, and the dedication and loyalty of its people, who remain the core of the country’s priorities, and the main pillar of its development and prosperity. The year 2016 was not easy on either regional or global fronts, yet stood out as an exceptional year for the UAE. The journey of progress and development continued through launching ambitious strategic projects and achieving substantial growth, further enhancing the UAE’s regional and global stature and cementing its position amongst attractive investment destinations globally. The UAE has also continued to improve its competitiveness, outperforming many regional and world economies in several sectors, notably infrastructure, ease of doing business, internet penetration, quality of living, distinguished government services and prevalence of security, among other factors that make the UAE the ideal global destination for excellence.
In order to maintain the UAE’s legacy of humanitarian efforts, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE, has announced that 2017 will be the “Year of Giving” in the UAE. It will be dedicated to the UAE’s martyrs, in memory of their heroic deeds and in appreciation of their sacrifices. The year is also dedicated to promoting the culture of giving and to engaging all segments of society, allowing them to participate in the endeavours implemented by the UAE leadership. This year will be a milestone in the UAE’s philanthropic approach and will seek to alleviate the suffering of people in need.
In Abu Dhabi, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of establishing Abu Dhabi’s modern government, marking the start of an administration that earned itself a prestigious stature amongst world governments. This same government is moving ahead into the future with confidence and optimism, building upon the strong foundations laid down by His Highness, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Our memories take us back to the starting point, where our journey required strenuous work and dedication to select the correct development path ahead. The late Sheikh Zayed was a wise, patient and persistent leader, with a great vision for the future of the UAE, a future that seemed impossible. But thanks to his foresight and dedication, what began as a vision has now transformed into a reality. Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and genius became renowned within and beyond the UAE. The country in general, and Abu Dhabi in particular, became an international model in development, progress and innovation. Human development, which was the centre of Abu Dhabi’s model, acted as the spark of Sheikh Zayed’s progress and development journey, materialising in the first two pillars he tackled, education and health care.
Based on this enlightened approach, Abu Dhabi established the Abu Dhabi Planning Council in 1966, which released the first five-year plan for the emirate in 1968, a new concept for governments in the region. Since 1966 the emirate has continued to make major strides in all fields, paving the way for additional visions and development plans. In 2007 Abu Dhabi laid down the foundations of its vision for the future, to place its economy and human resources at the forefront of leadership and excellence worldwide, and enhance its economic position in the world.
Development is a continuous process that requires diligent efforts and determination and the latest iteration of the Abu Dhabi plan, launched last year, reflects this, complementing the long success story of informed planning laid down by the late Sheikh Zayed, while remaining one of the main pillars of government work.
The plan has translated this vision of creating a confident and secure society, and to build a sustainable, open, and globally competitive economy into a strategic blueprint for all three of the emirate’s regions. It contains 25 key objectives and 83 programmes which are implemented through a transparent coordination process between Abu Dhabi’s government entities. It also represents our strong commitment to achieve this ambitious vision, as we will examine and assess the outcomes of the plan on a quarterly basis, based on performance indicators and periodic reports to ensure a seamless and effective workflow. Transforming the plan’s objectives into concrete results will become a continuous endeavour, achieved through concerted efforts between all stakeholders.
The plan is structured around five sectors; social development, economic development, infrastructure and environment, security and justice/safety, and government affairs; and with the overall goal of ensuring the constant development of the emirate.
Furthermore, the recently launched award in the fifth edition of the Abu Dhabi Awards for Excellence in Government Performance for the “distinguished entity in delivering the plan’s outcomes” represents a clear testament to our determined efforts in achieving the objectives of the plan year after year. It also provides practical criteria to measure the performance and development of government work. This aims to ensure Abu Dhabi’s continuous efforts to reinforce its distinguished social fabric and promote its leading economic status. This approach complements the work and efforts of the late Sheikh Zayed, who believed that investing in human capital was one of the main pillars of government work and should be at the top of its priorities, a belief that is followed and preserved by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.
The economy of the emirate continues to achieve positive results. This indicates the sound economic policy of promoting diversity, which helped create a resilient and varied economy, especially in the wake of highly volatile global economic conditions. The recent decisions to integrate economic entities were urgently needed measures that increased the competitiveness of Abu Dhabi. These initiatives will steer the emirate’s financial resources into specific economic channels and create greater benefits and enhanced economic value for the government. It gives me great pleasure to declare that the emirate of Abu Dhabi is gradually shifting away from its reliance on oil, building on the potential of its sons and daughters, whose capabilities and efforts in different development fields were highly praised by HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, out of his firm belief that they are the main component of the development process. In order to make sure that economic growth is sustained, Abu Dhabi had sought to implement ambitious plans to diversify its economic base.
These plans achieved their objectives by increasing the share of non-oil sectors in Abu Dhabi’s GDP. Further evidence of Abu Dhabi’s sound economic policies was our ability to maintain a low inflation rate while maintaining high growth rates in the past years. Additionally, while non-oil exports doubled during the past five years, foreign direct investment in the emirate of Abu Dhabi also doubled in the same period.
All of these milestones were achieved thanks to the continuous support and follow-up from HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed and HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed. Their Highnesses have dedicated significant attention to ensure the implementation of work programmes according to these carefully established plans in a bid to achieve excellence in government work in Abu Dhabi, and to support sustainable development.
The government has worked diligently to ensure the progress and continuing prosperity of the emirate, and will continue to pursue its endeavour to achieve the highest levels of productivity in the upcoming years, with the key objective of guaranteeing the best futures possible for the emirate’s forthcoming generations.
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