The announcement by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the United Arab Emirates of a change to the selection of Federal National Council members , whereby some would be elected and others appointed, in order to launch a new constitutional phase and reinforce political participation is, of course, a leap into the future!
It is not novel to say that the UAE, since the rule of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nuhayan, was and remains a rational country which is concerned more about human beings than slogans. This is an Arab illness that has thankfully avoided the majority of leaders in the Persian Gulf.
Political rationality, flexibility and economic development are unmistakably evident in the history of the UAE. Despite all the storms the region has weathered, especially the Gulf, from wars, crises and awakening or suppression as some like to refer to it, the UAE’s government maintained it political discipline and rationality and the country did not get involved in arguments one can only describe as provoked.
The status of women was not subject to debate and one finds the Emirati woman working, learning and participating without surrendering her society’s traditions. The UAE has also escaped from religious, political and even tribal conflict. It has also succeeding in riding out internal political storms concerning the leadership of each emirate and preserved national unity even after the death of Sheikh Zayed. It also escaped from the pull of ideological disputes and was able to exploit its human capabilities fruitfully.
This has been the case in the past and it is clear the vision will remain for the future, as was evident in Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed’s announcement on the occasion of the country’s 34th National Day, “This is to tighten the lose ends, straighten the curves, put an end to wrongdoings, get rid of bad nuts”. He called on political, religious, cultural, information, educational and civil society institutions to stand up to their responsibilities to instil the values of love for work. But the country’s thorniest problem, or what can be described as its Achilles heal, namely the demographic composition, remains.
I was captivated by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed’s remarks on the issue. He identified the issue and tied any solution to an improvement of training programs and the methods and rules of education, whereby the competent and qualified citizen would be welcomed and preferred to the passport-carrying citizen, in order to ensure a better economy and a stronger nation. With all this in mind, I am convinced the United Arab Emirates have made a giant leap for the future.