Each National Day brings with it celebration of new accomplishments made by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), reflecting its economic and social progress. This year’s anniversary brings to memory the role of the country’s founding fathers – especially Founder of the UAE, the Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (may God bless his soul) – who established strong foundations for the Union to continue working for the welfare of citizens and expatriates in the country.
As a result of this groundwork, the UAE’s economy has registered high rates of growth exceeding global average. According to the Ministry of Economy data, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth this year is expected to be 4.5 percent, which is one of the highest in the world. More importantly, this growth has been essentially concentrated in non-oil sectors, which points to greater economic diversity and prepares the ground for the post-oil era.
A new phenomenon that can be celebrated on the occasion of the 42nd UAE National Day is the attention that has been to the adoption of new approaches toward these ends. This has ushered in greater economic diversity as new emerging trends include the establishment of quality projects in the fields of infrastructure, energy and services, including the fast growing financial services sector.
In the field of infrastructure, transportation sector has registered a qualitative leap in the country with the arrival of the first carriages of the Union train. Once operational, this will be a remarkable addition to the local and regional transportation network. It will also yield significant economic and environmental gains. The Union train’s physical operation process will contribute to the reduction of costs of transportation of goods between the various cities and with other GCC countries.
The plan to construct a new road between the capital city of Abu Dhabi and Dubai has been a significant development. This will facilitate linkages between production and services centers and increase their accessibility. This will also attract more investment to the Khalifa Port area and Kizad, the industrial zone associated with it. All this is besides reaping the dividends of the opportunities created by the Al Maktoum International Airport, which received its first passenger flight this year. The technical and logistic capacity of this airport to move goods makes it one of the most important airports in the Middle East. Expansions of Abu Dhabi International Airport and a new building at the Dubai International Airport, which has also become operational, have all significantly raised the capacity at UAE airports.
On the alternative energy sources front, it can be announced on this joyous occasion that foundations of nuclear power plants in Abu Dhabi have now been laid. This will help meet the growing demand for electricity that is likely to reach 40,000 megawatts by the year 2020. This will reduce the cost of energy and help in furthering objectives of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, which necessitates necessary changes to entrench the roots of economic diversification and raising the standard of living of UAE nationals. As part of this process, work has also begun at the AED12 billion Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park project.
In line with the rapid growth taking place in the services sector, including financial services, Abu Dhabi has announced the launch of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), in addition to the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). These markets have opened the doors to more investments and will enhance the UAE’s status in international financial and monetary transactions. This is extremely important considering the significant rise in liquidity levels across the region. However, factors behind global financial crisis, and the numerous developments associated with it, must be studied to even better manage the financial services sector in the country.
The UAE’s efforts to join the Emerging Markets Index succeeded this year. This gave a strong impetus to the development of Abu Dhabi and Dubai markets and increased the possibility of their merger to attract more foreign investments. In the long run, this will also boost the confidence of foreign markets and investors in the domestic capital markets and joint stock companies, especially in the banking sector.
In a significant step aimed at keeping abreast of the pace of technological advances across the globe, the UAE decided to announce a shift from e-government to smart government. This target is to be achieved by expanding the use of modern means of communication in carrying out official transactions and associated services. By doing this, the UAE has set a precedent for countries around the world eyeing progress in this domain.
The UAE’s economy is undergoing rapid changes as different institutions in the public and private sectors are responding to the directives issued by the country’s wise leadership. They have all been encouraged to make greater achievements and we must acknowledge them on the eve of the UAE National Day. The UAE has become a successful model for comprehensive development, economic diversification and judicious use of oil revenues to prepare for a post-oil era. Changes taking place in the global energy industry – particularly the development of shale oil and gas and other alternative energy sources – pose a serious challenge to the traditional oil and gas industries and the UAE has made strides to address this challenge.
As has been the case over the years, the UAE National Day celebrations this year bring with it more and more achievements for the country. These achievements become building blocks of the structure that supports the country’s development process with hundreds of projects and trends that have been shaped over the last 42 years. All of them together make an impressive list of achievements that demonstrates the role played by the Union in pushing the process of development and improving the standard of living across all emirates in the UAE. This has made the country a model not only for the surrounding Arab countries but also for countries and regional groupings across the world.