UAE Sheikh Khalifa marks ten years as president

Under his rule, fast development and growth

03 November, 17:33

    Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

    (by Alessandra Antonelli) (ANSAmed) - DUBAI, NOVEMBER 3 - The UAE celebrated ten years of the presidency of Shaikh Khalifa on Monday.

    In the words of an official statement released by Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the years stood out for their ''fast development and great achievement'', the impact of which ''cannot be measured by statistics or international reports. It cannot be counted by the numbers of people enriched by his projects''.

    Though he has been out of the public spotlight for some months and absent from recent official photos with the other six emirs - leading to speculation about health problems - over the past decade Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan led the UAE as it gained ever more prominence on the international stage. Sheikh Khalifa took the throne on November 3, 2004, at age 65, after the death of Sheihk Zayed, the founder alongside Dubai Sheikh Rashid of the modern-day UAE. In 2006 he inaugurated Masdar, the first alternative energy facilities of the region that led to the creation of Masdar City shortly thereafter, the first environmentally sustainable and zero-emission city in the world. The commitment to and billion-dollar investment in clean energy sources led to Abu Dhabi's selection as headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2009. Work began the same year on Etihad Rail, the first national railway to link up with the larger regional network. the following year Dubai drew international attention after building the highest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, as well as the Meydan Racecourse.

    The Louvre, the Guggenheim Museum, the Sorbonne University and the New York University have all set up branches in the country. The UAE was slowed by the world economic crisis starting in 2008 and by the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2011. It picked up the pace again in 2013, however, with the Shams1 project for the largest solar power plant in the world, the opening of the Al-Maktoum international airport and with being selected to hold the Expo 2020. Economic diversification and the resulting freeing from oil dependency, political shrewdness and a hardline stance against fundamentalist trends were seen alongside domestic policies focusing on the population's needs. Laws and investment ensured education, healthcare, qualitative growth and competitiveness of trades and know-how. ''This is the true legacy of Sheikh Khalifa. These are the main lessons that other leaders may draw from ten years of his presidency. It is easy to rule through fear, but it takes a rare leader to rule through love,'' said Sheikh Mohammed Al-Maktoum of Dubai in a speech published by the WAM news agency. (ANSAmed).

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