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Nation of Gold

“The beginning was at the Union House. It is where we renewed our pledge”. These were the words of Mohammed bin Rashid yesterday and the headline for the coming phase in the union march. The Cabinet’s meeting in the Union House that witnessed the establishment of the UAE was not only symbolic but also historic. It determined features of the national work in the coming phase and renewed will, determination and endeavor towards larger development for a country that has long been determined to excel and be one of the world’s developed countries. “Achievement, excellence and overcoming challenges” has become the headline of the coming phase as determined by yesterday’s meeting. It was inspired by the founding heritage in the Union House and depending on the citizen who was and will always be the center of focus. The citizen exists in Khalifa’s approach and his national program as well as being the dignity and pride in Mohammed bin Rashid’s vision. The citizen is the pride of the nation because he/she is the means and objective of the renaissance. In this context, 2013 was determined as the year of nationalization through practical programs so that the picture becomes more beautiful and radiant and the nation becomes even more beautiful by crowning the citizen as the champion of accomplishment and challenges across all sectors by truly involving them in the overall renaissance witnessed by the UAE. The features drawn by the Cabinet for the coming period and statements of Mohammed bin Rashid set a strategy to immunize the union, reinforce its identity by combing genuine and modern spirits and protect its accomplishments made by its sons and daughters. Only then can the UAE live in a continuous spring because money does not last, people do not last but the nation remains as Zayed said. The union spirit has been flowing in our veins for 41 years, its goodness surrounding us and its glory embracing us. Today, we should return the favor to the nation through work and accomplishment and excellence and innovation. Towards this end, our vision for the UAE’s development is inspired by this spirit through our commitment to work as one team in a nation of gold.


E-Government Excellence

Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Center recently won the Outstanding e-Government Prize in the open city category for the location data program for the emirate of Abu Dhabi during the World e-Governments Organization of Cities and Local Governments (WeGO) Awards 2012. This victory reflects the distinguished efforts of Abu Dhabi in implementing the latest technology and best practices in the e-government field in order to provide the best services for the public.

The location data program is one of the Abu Dhabi Government programs that are managed as part of the e-government program for ADSIC with the aim to facilitate the sharing and exchange of geospatial data among government agencies and other related entities and to make the latest geographical information and high quality location e-government services accessible to the public in an easy and convenient manner. The program was awarded the WeGO award. This reflects the advanced position achieved by Abu Dhabi in applying the e-government, especially that, as known, the WeGO award is deemed one of the highly-esteemed international awards that recognize and promoteoutstanding practices of e-governments of cities and local governments. It also highlights the efforts of organizations and agenciesaround the world that use information and communication technologies to improve administrative efficiency and citizen’s access to public services.

ADSIC is the governmental bodyoverseeing the Abu Dhabi’s Information Technology agenda. It also oversees the execution of the e-government program at entities affiliated with Abu Dhabi government by assuming many key roles in this regard such as suggesting technological policies and applications for Abu Dhabi government and its affiliated entities. It aims to achieve overall quality in reaching the highest levels of effectiveness, privacy and security in the e-government project. It also operates as a reference in the field of IT policies and criteria. It supports the execution of IT projects and infrastructure relating to the initiatives of modernizing Abu Dhabi government. Last but not least, ADSIC assumes the “publisher” role to support IT knowledge. The main purpose is to place Abu Dhabi in a leading position in the government modernization field at the regional and international level.

The strategy of the e-government comes in context of the comprehensive vision of Abu Dhabi government aiming to provide services of the highest international performance standards that achieve full benefit to all its customers and transforms the society from conventional economy into knowledge-based economy. It also aims to improve digital education and enhance development to reach the goal of the wise leadership in making Abu Dhabi among the best five governments in the world.

Perhaps what brings confidence in that Abu Dhabi in particular and the UAE in general are taking stable and advanced steps towards applying an e-government and raising the level of readiness of e-transformation of services provided by the federal government to customers and specific indicators in this regard is that the UAE ranked seventh internationally on the “E-Government Services for 2012″ index. It also ranked sixth globally on the “E-Participation” index in the United Nations e-Government Survey” for 2012. This confirms that the UAE has become one of the major experiences in the e-government field, especially in employing digital technology and e-readiness level.

One violation after another

The announcement by the Ministry of Interior of a two-month extension for violators of the residency law starting from 4 December 2012 until 4 February 2013 was right in place for many reasons.

This extension will allow all residency violators who wish to leave to return to their countries without incurring any financial or moral repercussions as violators will be exempted from all resulting fines if they choose to leave the country voluntarily. The second useful thing is that the UAE will get rid of not a few numbers of violators, which should reflect positively on the infrastructure and security in general.

Observers stressed that the number of violators is not big due to many measures and decisions taken by the UAE thus limiting their number and presence notably the eye print that since its application in 2002 until now has prevented about 600,000 persons from entering the country being already deported or not allowed to enter the UAE. In addition, the ID card system and other forms of organization that are followed in the citizenship and residency departments limited the number of violators or those who want to stay in the UAE illegally.

One violation brings in another. It should be noted that some individuals become violators by force or circumstances push them to commit a violation such as being laid off from work or expiration of their visiting visa and not wanting to leave the country.

Some of those people who were forced by circumstances to commit a violation continued in their new situation without being aware of the unfavorable consequences. He/she does not want to leave the country either because of their love for the UAE or because of reasons related to the situation in their home country.

Due to their violation, many could not renew their ID card, could not renew their car registration and could not renew the residence visas of their children thus depriving them from education.

After being secure at work and occupancy, he/she became chased by all entities due to their negligence regarding their residency status in addition to bad financial conditions and consequent bank claims of loans and credit cards, hence being chased by law or wanted for arrest.

How many of these violators had a car accident and reported it to the police but due to their violations fell into a big “trouble” and found themselves behind bars due to their violations, checks, tuition, licenses and many others.

Non-official or illegal residency exposes us to many problems. In any country, a foreigner is required to be staying legally before sustaining a job, food and any other thing. This extension given by the Ministry of Interior is another chance for those violators to get things under control.

Question of Responsibility

The question of immediate benefit or forthcoming feasibility that would accrue to a ministry, department or government institution is an extremely problematic question and dangerous as it may prevent, or contribute to preventing an institution from doing specific duties towards the society and the nation. Naturally, a purely financial measure can be adopted neither in this place, nor in any other place when talking about a nation and its supreme interests, owing at least to the duty of social responsibility.

The problem lies in the fact that the promotion of the concept of social responsibility is restricted in the UAE, even in announcements. It is limited to corporate responsibility in the narrow social sense of the word or phrase. It is often said that no taxes are imposed on UAE-based companies, which make huge profits in free and open atmospheres; so why do not they contribute to social work by allocating some of their profits to support the budgets allocated for this purpose.

This is part of the social responsibility taken as a whole. Under the meant social responsibility falls the immediate response – away from the question of financial cost – to each national initiative posed, illustrating a general national and social tendency: How will our institutions tend to act as regards the idea of ​​the “Union Tree”, for instance?

Unconventional celebration of the 41st National Day and all the next national days falls under social responsibility, and so does the support for the creative social and cultural activity seen in our country in this stage of its progress and for the efforts exerted to empower women and the youth.

The titles are many, and the institutions themselves should put the goal of serving social responsibility in this new and renewed proposed concept on top of their priorities before asking themselves at the end of the year  when they inventory their assets and calculate their profits: What did they do or what should they have done as far as social responsibility is concerned?

While we as Arabs and Muslims have a long history of volunteering, solidarity and generosity, it does not seem favorable to cite the institutions of the industrial West and what they offer in the context of social responsibility, but unfortunately this is inevitable.


The UAE, a homeland of rights and freedoms

The words of the speech of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President echoed in all corners of this generous nation while addressing representatives of the UAE people in the opening of the second ordinary session of the Federal National Council (FNC).

In his speech given on his behalf by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, he reinforced the values upon which the UAE was founded making it a haven for citizens and expatriates alike. These values are based on a constitution that primarily protects rights and freedoms enabling a healthy and right atmosphere for the nation and its citizens to accomplish progress and full development in all fields. This ensured turning the UAE into an oasis of security, safety and stability as well as prosperity and progress.

These achievements were the result of insight and visionary programs of the wise leadership inspired by the approach of the founding leader and father Zayed bin Sultan based on the notion that securing a human being in his homeland and providing them with the resources they need is key to progress of the nation and citizen. Under this awareness, the national structure was established and reinforced creating an experience of unique model to be followed in building, coexistence and tolerance and enjoying high recognition at the regional and international level.

The words of the leader of the march under the “Blue Dome” and in front of representatives of the UAE people were a confirmation of commitment of the political leadership to continue the march of this nation towards larger and further horizons by reinforcing the law and protection of rights and freedoms based on the constitution directing the performance of various authorities and institutions in the UAE.

The speech was also a stress on commitment to enrich the parliamentary experience in the enablement age launched by leader of the march in his speech on the occasion of the 34th national day 2005 which represented a historical turn in building the nation and parliamentary work being as old as the nation itself. The FNC turns 41 next February. It is a commitment based on values and idiosyncrasies of this society.

The speech urged citizens to move forward with more will and determination to continue enhancing the accomplishments of this nation and protect its security and stability through more sincere and hard work and supporting the leadership and national solidarity. The speech and occasion were also an opportunity for those wishing to know the idiosyncratic experience of the UAE and its achievements in the fields of human rights, protection of freedoms, respect for cultures and raising the values of coexistence and tolerance away from unilateral reports of doubtful goals of these suspicious organizations.

The experience of national work in the UAE created a unique model of a society denouncing division, racism, extremism and partiality, supporting values of love, cooperation and openness and directing its capacities towards work and building for the prosperity and dignity of the human being in his own homeland. This society extends a hand of friendship to everyone and is keen on helping deprived communities without discrimination because of color, race or belief. This is the essence of values upon which the UAE was founded guiding it towards the future to achieve “enablement” for the prosperity of human beings on the land of the UAE and humanity in general.


Value of Loyalty to Homeland

At times and under certain circumstances experienced by communities as well as the groups and individuals of the society, it becomes inevitable and even necessary to review a lot of firmly established convictions and values ​​that are common among people  and have become indisputable axioms. As individuals, each one of us is part of the general system of the society, and the disruption of this part has inevitably a negative impact on the total system (resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not
well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness (insomnia) and fever with it). The public order fever means entering into a state of instability such as sedition or chaos, for example. This is against the purposes of Shariah, logic and the alphabets of sociology and politics, considering that the top task of the society lies in taking care of people’s interests and meeting their requirements in the best way in an atmosphere of safety and peace. Based on this, zero tolerance should be shown towards anything that could conflict with this end. With this in mind, societies need to review their value, faith and moral systems from time to time in order for people and the organizations of the society not to forget!

We believe in homeland as a great faith-based value which a number of considerations such as loyalty, patriotism, sacrifice and homeland defense rest upon in such a manner that dying for one’s homeland falls under martyrdom that entitles one to enter paradise. We also believe in homeland as a material, utilitarian value, considering that a homeland is an entity meant to meet our needs and fulfill our requirements. Emotionally, we believe in our homeland because our early life and childhood are associated with it and because, by virtue of the ongoing education at home and school as well as the religious and national education classes, songs, morning assembly national anthem and many other things, this feeling grows in us as a homeland with all its meanings and manifestations until it rests as an undisputed eternal truth and becomes as sacred as religion and mother. Our mothers kept telling us this phrase: Your country is like your mothers. Do mothers nowadays say this phrase to their children or children nowadays are left to their friends and to the idea that a homeland is a job that generates a large salary and provides excellent services?

Sometimes, things get mixed in some people as they believe that it is legitimate to destroy the house (homeland) on all the inhabitants if  one day they found no place for them, realized that water and electricity were cut off, sought power, considered themselves and those with them to be the whole world and the most important component in it, or got ideas mixed together up to the point that it became possible for them to burn their country under illogical excuses and pretexts. Here, a review of the principle of loyalty to the homeland will be required and necessary, not for a group of people but for the whole society. Hence, examining the idea of ​​loyalty will become inevitable, and so will the promotion of this idea as a value and faith, and will become the task of all the organizations of the society, specifically the educational, religious and media organizations.

Let us ask ourselves if anarchy is the alternative? Who is impressed by the poor conditions seen nowadays in the countries in which revolutions erupted? Who is interested in changing stability and prosperity into chaos and destruction? Who is interested in exchanging security by fear, grace and hunger? Who and who? The answers are not in favor of those who undertake chaotic change projects; homeland is for all and no one has the right to confiscate it and envisage the way it should be changed as one likes. Therefore, the concept of homeland should be promoted as a supreme value rather than commercial, folkloric carnivals that end on the same day. This is what we all should pay attention to at this stage.

Citizens are UAE leadership’s top priority

The UAE is setting a unique example of creative engagement between the country’s leadership and its people, according to Akhbar Al Saah publication. The model, which was laid down by the Founder of the UAE, the Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is being pursued with determination under the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and fellow brothers Their Highnesses, Members of the Supreme Council and Rulers of the Emirates, the publication said.

Under the title “Creative Interaction between Leadership and the People”, the publication added: “The large number of citizens who turned up to offer Eid greetings to their leaders across the country shows their love and appreciation for their leaders. It is the result of the open-door policy that drives the country, creates popular interest and reinforces allegiance and loyalty to our leaders on various occasions.”

The publication issued by the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research clarified that UAE citizens are the top priority for the country’s wise leadership and it leaves no stone unturned in raising their standard of living and empowering them, noting that a quick look at the recent actions and initiatives launched by them suggest that all efforts are made to serve the citizens in the present and safeguard their interests in the future. “The message is significantly evident and creates the bonds of loyalty, dedication and faithfulness between the leaders and the people. It is this bond that makes the UAE an oasis of political and social stability based on decades-long traditions and values,” the publication said.

The publication affirmed that: “The UAE has consistently received high ranks from international organizations in their reports on satisfaction, happiness and prosperity. United Nations World Happiness Report for 2012 ranked the UAE first in the Arab world and 17th globally in terms of state of happiness among people. The UN Development Program’s Human Development Report for 2011 has been another example. In this report, the UAE was ranked top in the Arab world. These achievements have been the result of a comprehensive and farsighted vision pursued by our wise leaders. They have come as a result of sustained efforts that have created a pioneering and successful UAE model of development – that are now being targeted by many nations in the region and across the world.”

At the end of its editorial, Akhbar Al Saah said: “The UAE government revolves around engagement with citizens, positive interaction with their demands and aspirations, keenness to respond to these demands and aspirations and the creation of a comprehensive model of development that takes into account not only the present but also the future. The purpose is to secure development and maintain welfare for generations to come. Loyalty to our wise leaders is, hence, a deeply rooted value in the UAE – one that has been on display on various occasions.”

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