50 years ago, the founders of the UAE designed our lives in this country today. And now, we all have the opportunity to plant the seeds for the next 50 years and beyond to encourage our future generations to grow and prosper
- Nasser Al Nowais, Chairman, Rotana
A little over 50 years ago, the UAE was just a humble village, home to Bedouins who earned their living through fishing and pearl diving while braving harsh conditions to flourish in the unforgiving desert. Little did they know then that the nation would go on to become one of the biggest players on the world stage and a force to be reckoned with – only in a matter of five decades.
The transformation was remarkable and incredibly rapid, and it can all be traced back to December 2, 1971, when the leaders representing the emirates bound their sheikhdoms to one another and the United Arab Emirates was formed. But the seeds for a great nation were sown even before this historic date.
In 1966, Sheikh Zayed was put on the throne in Abu Dhabi to carry out his vision. He believed that the money from the emirate’s recent oil discovery would offer great opportunities to develop the village. He, therefore, channelled vast sums into the construction of schools, healthcare services, an airport, seaport, housing, roads and a bridge linking Abu Dhabi island to the mainland.
The late Sheikh Zayed once famously said: “Real wealth is the hard work that benefits both the person and the community. It is immortal and eternal and becomes the value of the person and the nation.”
It is this philosophy that carried the country to great heights over the last 50 years and it will continue to be the underlying principle driving further growth over the next 50.
It was a historic moment for the UAE – December 2, 2021. The world’s eyes were set on our glorious nation as the rulers and crown princes of the seven emirates gathered in Hatta to officially ring in the country’s 50th National Day celebrations and Golden Jubilee ceremony. What a spectacle it was! Staged on a floating theatre, the story of the birth of our nation unfolded. It highlighted how the barren desert shaped up to become a verdant oasis with palm trees and native foliage flourishing across the UAE; and how the humble wind tower houses and ancient forts bloomed into some of the world’s most famous skyscrapers.
Yet, while this successful chapter was celebrated with much enthusiasm, the UAE has never been one to rest on its laurels, which is why 'Designing the Next 50' was the sentiment that was echoed in every event marking the country’s Golden Jubilee – an apt theme that has already helped to lay the foundation for the next five decades.
In the last few months alone, the UAE successfully launched its Mars mission, started a nuclear energy plant to reduce carbon emissions, opened the gates to the first World Expo to ever run on Middle Eastern soil and so much more. And these mighty milestones achieved in such a short space of time are only an indication that the best is yet to come as we grow together towards the UAE Centennial 2071.
When the beginning of this new journey was announced, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, shared his vision to make the UAE the best country in the world by the year 2071. The country’s rulers also came together to highlight their deepest ambitions for the UAE – to have the best education in the world, the best economy, the happiest communities and the best government by 2071 – which make up the four pillars of the UAE Centennial Plan 2071. It builds on the country's objective to continue diversifying its economy by relying less on oil and investing in other areas to leave behind a better world the future generations.
Strategies have been put in place by our future-focused government to ensure that this vision is brought to fruition. One of these includes the launch of the 50 National Projects, which is set to usher in a new era of growth in the UAE by stirring great change in the fields of agriculture, art, artificial intelligence, digital technology, entrepreneurship, environment, education, foreign investment, healthcare, innovation, science, space exploration and more. It's definitely a new dawn for the nation!
All of these efforts combined will further cement our nation on the global stage and we will continue leading others by our fine example. Yet, at the heart of it all, the country’s purpose is noble and that is improving the quality of life for its citizens and residents. It’s the very mark of a great nation – putting its people above everything else; nurturing the very resource that will drive the country forward.
The virtue of happiness has, therefore, been chosen as one of the main pillars in the UAE Centennial Plan 2071. Through the tenets of this pillar, the country will provide today’s young citizens – our leaders of tomorrow – with all the tools to be happy ambassadors of the UAE and encourage them to embrace the values deeply rooted in the fabric of Emirati culture.
Introducing an innovative system to ensure that the people's needs are met, the government launched a platform to gather ideas and suggestions from the public on shaping the UAE's next five decades in multiple sectors. By giving the people a platform to voice their opinions, this smart move ensures that all segments of society have contributed with their diverse views in building the UAE of tomorrow. It is this collaboration among the public and its leaders that will keep the wheels turning, and it only goes to show that our participation matters significantly in shaping the future.
Once again putting its people in the spotlight, the UAE’s Golden Jubilee Committee recently announced a new initiative. Titled First Steps, it's an invitation to those who call the UAE home to write down their personal vision for the next 50 years and the first steps that they will take towards making their dream a reality.
While it may seem simple on the surface, it goes above and beyond the gesture of putting pen to paper to express one's views. In fact, it reiterates the message that the UAE’s citizens and residents will take the reins and help further build this great country. As they share their blueprint for their own future, it breathes life into our shared vision for the UAE's today, tomorrow and the next 50 years.