Abu Dhabi : As the UAE prepares to celebrate its 52nd Union Day, it reflects on a year marked by remarkable achievements and an unwavering commitment to progress. Guided by the visionary leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE has solidified its position as a global leader, renowned for its innovation, sustainability, and commitment to peace.
On the global stage, the UAE ascended to the top 10 most powerful countries in terms of soft power, a testament to its growing influence and diplomatic prowess. The country also served its second term as president of the UN Security Council, demonstrating its dedication to international cooperation and conflict resolution. Additionally, the UAE’s humanitarian and developmental efforts expanded, reaching communities in need worldwide.
As a pioneer in climate action, the UAE will host COP28, the UN’s 28th climate change conference, showcasing its innovative solutions and unwavering commitment to protecting the planet. The country’s sustainable approach to governance, coupled with its continuous advancements in global competitiveness rankings, underscore its dedication to long-term prosperity.
Across diverse sectors, the UAE witnessed remarkable achievements and developments, further solidifying its position as a beacon of progress and innovation.
In hosting and organising COP28, the UAE is showcasing its pioneering role in addressing climate change and promoting environmental sustainability at local and international levels. The country aims to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve balanced, ambitious, and comprehensive outcomes and results, to advance and raise climate objectives by progressing from setting goals to implementing them.
More than 70,000 participants are expected to attend the event, including leaders of nations, government officials, global industry figures, private sector representatives, scholars, experts, the youth, and non-governmental organisations (NGO). The UAE will conduct the first-ever comprehensive international review of the world’s progress in meeting the climate change mitigation goals of the Paris Agreement.
The UAE hosted international events and conferences on environmental sustainability and climate change issues throughout 2023 ahead of COP28, which will take place from 30th November to 12th December. These events include Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the Global Forum on Climate Technology and Policy, the UAE Climate Technology Forum, the Water Security and Clean Energy Forum, the Future Sustainability Forum, the Summit of Religious Leaders for Climate, the Water, Energy, and Environment Technology Exhibition (WETEX) in Dubai, and the Global Green Economy Summit.
In 2023, the UAE achieved remarkable successes that elevated its status as a pioneer, innovator, and global competitor in the space sector. A prominent example was the successful completion of Zayed’s Ambition 2 mission by Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who spent six months in space, setting a new record for the longest Arab space mission. The mission aimed to serve humanity and improve lives by conducting 200 scientific experiments in various fields.
The UAE has announced the commencement of the implementation phase for a groundbreaking project to develop a network of radar satellites capable of capturing images both day and night. The country also revealed that it will extend the Hope Probe mission to explore Mars for another year and launch the Rashid 2 mission to study the moon, among other remarkable achievements.
The fifth parliamentary elections
The UAE is committed to bolstering community participation in the national policy-making process and reinforcing the Federal National Council’s (FNC) role as a legislative authority that supports the executive branch in driving the country’s development and prosperity.
This year’s fifth cycle of FNC elections witnessed an 18.1 percent increase in voter turnout compared to the 2019 elections, demonstrating a growing engagement with the electoral process.
Emirati women played a prominent role in the elections, accounting for over half of the electoral list with a 51 percent share, compared to 49 percent for men. This reflects the UAE’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Moreover, the electoral list facilitated a high level of youth participation, with 55 percent of voters in 2023 being between the ages of 21 and 40. This underscores the UAE’s efforts to engage younger generations in shaping the nation’s future.
The UAE Government’s annual meetings in 2023 set the stage for a future of economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, and gender equality. The Economic Principles of the UAE Document, the UAE Net Zero 2050 Strategy, and the Zero Government Bureaucracy Programme are key initiatives that will drive progress in these areas. Additionally, the National Platform for Gender Balance, the Emiratisation policies, the new Government Excellence Model, the Newborn Screening Programme, and the National System for Periodic Examinations for Heart and Arterial Diseases will contribute to a more inclusive, healthy, and prosperous nation.
The UAE’s remarkable journey of competitiveness continued in the 2023 Annual Global Competitiveness Report, with the country ascending two positions to claim the tenth position globally. This impressive achievement further solidifies the UAE’s position as a regional leader, a distinction it has maintained for seven consecutive years. The country’s stellar performance across all assessed areas propelled it into the top ten for an impressive 48 indicators, including economic performance, government efficiency, and global trade.
The UAE demonstrated its unwavering commitment to global humanitarianism in 2023, providing aid to people affected by emergencies and natural disasters worldwide. Notable initiatives included Operation Gallant Knight 2 to aid earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria, Operation Gallant Knight 3 to support Palestinians in Gaza, and the “Mercy for Gaza” campaign. The UAE also provided humanitarian assistance to those affected by Storm Daniel in Libya, the earthquake in Morocco, and various crises in Sudan, Somalia, Mozambique, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Chad.
The UAE’s economy remained resilient in 2023, with the Central Bank projecting a 3.3 percent annual growth rate. The government approved an AED192 billion national budget for 2024-2026, signalling continued economic stability.
The UAE prioritised media sector development in 2023, establishing the National Media Office and the UAE Media Council. The country hosted the second edition of the Global Media Congress, attracting thousands of media professionals and discussing crucial topics like environmental media and AI. The UAE also hosted the 12th International Government Communication Forum and the 21st Arab Media Forum, cementing its position as a media hub.
The UAE’s healthcare sector solidified its global leadership in 2023, ranking first in three key international competitiveness indicators and achieving the second position globally in the “Health Outcomes Index”. The country also led the MENA region in innovative drug approvals.
The UAE has prioritised education as one of its key sectors over the past decades. This year, it achieved a remarkable milestone in this vital sector by inaugurating 11 complexes within the Zayed Educational Complexes. Each complex is equal to four schools and can accommodate some 28,000 students.