The author looks at how far the UAE has come since its inception and how its people still remain at the core of its development.
The 44th UAE National Day has just passed and once again we’ve celebrated all the achievements of this great nation. The United Arab Emirates has come a long way since its formation in 1971. Each of the seven Emirates have had their own line up of achievements, albeit some more than others; however, what remains constant is the spirit of hospitality and generosity to the people.
Despite the rising skylines in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the people remain down to earth, from the leaders to the people. Not many countries can boast about their leaders driving freely in the city or walking through the malls. It is not an uncommon sight to see His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, do just that. This is not a new trend, and in fact, it predates to his late father, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who was known for his openness towards the people. I have heard countless tales from my father who spoke of Sheikh Rashid’s approachable nature and of the times they had met him and encountered his friendly greetings.
The city was much smaller then, which allowed for more interaction, but even now, with the increasing distances, you can still sense the camaraderie of the people. This needs to be a collected effort to ensure that the connections are not lost. With less open spaces for children to play, and more housemaids instead of the hosts exchanging the neighbourly treats, there is a risk of losing the human touch. The longer distances and the longer working and school hours may have spread people apart. Nonetheless, in the face of the recent calamities where our brave UAE soldiers lost their lives, it was evident that our country still remains united. When news of the martyrs spread, the entire country grieved and shared in the sorrow of the affected families, even those they may not have known.
This empathy and hospitality isn’t just reserved for Emiratis but for the millions of expatriates who choose the UAE as their home. There is good and bad in every country, and people may criticize and complain about the UAE, but there are many others that love this place like their own. They devote their lives to the UAE and have played a huge part in shaping the country to what it is today. They do so not only because of their dedication and hard work, but for the stability it can bring their families, some of whom may join them in the UAE, and some who have to remain in their home countries.
The UAE has come a long way from the days when it was barely known. When I was a student in Canada about twelve years ago, every time I was asked where I am from, I received confused looks and then had to give a long explanation for them to understand. Today, the UAE is on most people’s must-see destinations list and is frequently heard of on the latest hit TV series. Whether it is the world’s fastest roller coaster, the largest mall, or the tallest structure, the UAE is at the forefront of the world’s top achievements. It is not only the country’s wealth that has put the UAE on the map, but the vision and the determination of our great leaders that has brought us here. With such inspirational leaders guiding us, we can only hope for a greater future for all of us here in the United Arab Emirates.