Al Gergawi: Our goal is to consolidate development experience, boost global competitiveness, and enhance UAE’s quality of life
His Excellency Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, emphasised that the UAE Government Annual Meetings 2023 represent a moment for evaluation, review, diagnosing the reality, and determining national priorities for the upcoming period. H.E. indicated that it is an opportunity to raise issues and address challenges with full transparency. This event serves as the largest national forum, bringing together all national and local entities. It provides an annual opportunity to unify efforts, mobilise energies, and work as a national team, fostering the spirit of union.
This statement was made during the opening of the UAE Government Annual Meetings 2023, held under the directives of HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE President, and chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. In his opening speech, His Excellency Al Gergawi stated, “Our goal, as outlined by the wise leadership, is to consolidate the development experience, enhance the country’s global competitiveness, and elevate the standard of living and quality of life for the people of the UAE and everyone residing on its land”.
"We are an economic hub connecting the east to the west and the north to the south. Our land is home to more than 190 nationalities, each with its own cultures, beliefs, differences, and affiliations. As a nation, we both influence and are influenced by our surroundings and the global community. The most impactful way to contribute positively to regional events is by establishing a successful, inspiring, and motivating economic model for our people. The duty set by our leadership is clear: to work towards consolidating our economy, enhancing our competitiveness, developing our services, nurturing our young national talent, and fostering cohesion and solidarity within our society."
His Excellency emphasised that our primary mission is to enhance the quality of life in the country, foster cooperation with all nations in our neighbourhood, strengthen global partnerships, and solidify the reputation of the UAE in all forums.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, the largest contemporary challenge, prompted the UAE to make significant economic decisions and launch transformative projects. Legislative changes, such as ownership and residency laws, positioned the UAE as the world's second-largest destination for attracting wealthy individuals. Despite the challenges, the country witnessed changes in the labour system, major project launches, comprehensive partnership agreements, new economic agendas, the introduction of the 50 Principles, and the announcement of the largest-ever Emiratisation programme. These achievements highlight the benefits of proactive decision-making during challenging times."
His Excellency emphasised the necessity of devising a new positive set of major decisions in response to the multiple challenges the world is currently facing. This involves establishing new priorities in the development agenda, shaping the economy differently, planning for economic diversification, and formulating strategies to boost competitiveness in the business environment. The focus is also on enhancing citizens' entrepreneurship and reinforcing national identity. Additionally, attention is directed towards ensuring economic, food, cyber, and energy security, as well as protecting achievements, preserving gains, and sustaining international trade relations.
His Excellency highlighted that 94% of the projects and initiatives outlined in the "We the UAE 2031" initiative for 2023 were successfully accomplished. Moreover, in the same year, the UAE achieved a position among the top 10 countries in the Soft Power Index and secured the leading position in the MENA region in the Global Food Security Index.
The UAE also achieved a notable global ranking, securing the fourth position in international tourist spending, with a total expenditure of AED224 billion in the previous year. This surpassed renowned destinations like France, Italy, Turkey, and Germany. Additionally, the country became a member of the BRICS organisation. In the first half of the current year, non-oil foreign trade reached an unprecedented figure, exceeding one trillion and AED239 billion, showcasing a remarkable growth of 14.4%. This positive trend has been consistently upward since 2020.
His Excellency emphasised significant progress in key domestic priorities, particularly in the Emiratisation initiative. Through the "Nafis" programme initiated two years ago, approximately 54 thousand new citizens have been employed in the private sector, doubling the number to over 84 thousand within this period, a remarkable increase of more than 134% in just two years. The focus now shifts to implementing new strategies for qualitative advancements in Emiratisation across all sectors, coupled with efforts to enhance the educational system and equip citizens with the necessary skills for effective qualitative Emiratisation.
His Excellency Al Gergawi noted that three years ago, the UAE launched its largest-ever legislative transformation project to modernise laws. Out of over 920 federal laws, 40% dated back to before the millennium. The focus was on developing specialised laws aligned with the UAE’s rapid development. Currently, 200 specialised laws are in force, covering areas like economics, climate change, genomics, and more. Over the past three years, more than half of the federal laws have been updated, achieving a 57% modernisation rate. The collaborative effort involved over 150 government entities and over 2,600 legal professionals, leading to a reduction of laws issued before the millennium to less than 10%.
His Excellency further stated that the UAE stands out in over 430 regional development indicators and leads in 186 global indicators. It is among the top ten countries globally in terms of competitiveness, showcasing the government's agility in adapting to changes. The UAE excels in attracting talent, holds the title of the fastest nation in adopting technology, and is a pioneer in both Arab and Islamic space programmes, notably reaching Mars.
His Excellency Al Gergawi highlighted that the UAE boasts the most advanced military industry in the Arab region and operates the world's largest fleet of aircraft through its national airlines. The country, with over 130 million people passing through its airports and attracting more than 25 million visitors annually, surpasses all regional counterparts in connectivity and tourism. Recognised as the most connected to the continents globally, the UAE has a strategic investment presence in over 50 markets. These achievements serve as a powerful motivator to keep progressing, given the world's current rapid changes, urging against stagnation or retreat.