By Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Dear brothers and sisters,
Over ten years have passed since I assumed the position of prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates. In those ten years, we have launched a number of plans and strategies, led a number of reforms of our government, developed systems to track performance and improve services, encouraged innovation and the application of technology across all sectors, established awards, formed thousands of working teams, held numerous retreats and meetings and established many new government agencies.
We can perhaps now, ten years later, ask ourselves: what is the outcome of all this work and activity? It is important to pause occasionally and review our past work, measure our accomplishments and chart our road ahead. Today, reviewing the past ten years’ work, we stand on a path leading in the next five years to the year 2021, the year which we set as our target year for many objectives and goals. We promised great achievements and aspirations. How far have we come on our road, and how much more do we have to do in the coming five years to fulfil those promises?
In this short address, I would like to highlight a number of indicators of our achievements. I will leave the rest to our government officials and the members of our media to discuss openly, with transparency and without embellishment but with numbers and facts, research and studies so we can right our path if we need to, work harder if required, thank those whose hard work has resulted in achievements, and encourage those who have lagged behind. Through all of this, we remember that our goal is the advancement and glory of our nation and the betterment and happiness of our citizens.
So let us review the past ten years. Despite the global financial crisis and the resulting economic slowdown, despite the upheaval and disorder our region has endured, the United Arab Emirates has shown marked progress in all sectors. Our economy has doubled in the past ten years, from a GDP of 663 billion dirhams to 1,360 billion dirhams, an improvement which has provided jobs and underpinned considerable economic and commercial opportunities for the citizens and residents of our country.
We have continuously stressed in the past ten years, through legislation and policies, the importance of diversifying our economy away from dependence on oil. As a result, our non-petroleum exports have increased from 113 billion dirhams when I assumed office to 603 billion dirhams (including free zone trade) in the past year. The economic contribution of the non-petroleum sector has increased from 66% to some 77% today.
This has provided our economy with considerable protection throughout the recent decline in oil prices and meant we have been one of few countries worldwide cushioned against the resultant economic slowdown. With the development of government systems and services, the public sector’s contribution to GDP has grown from 23 billion dirhams ten years ago to 86 billion dirhams currently. We have seen a major growth in our competitiveness, from being the world’s 32nd most competitive economy to the 16th. This has placed the young nation of the UAE on a par with countries who have hundreds of years of development behind them.
Due to our open economic policies, Foreign Direct Investment has seen a sharp increase from 179 billion to 410 billion dirhams in the past ten years, while our banks’ total assets has increased from 859.6 billion dirhams to 2,478.2 billion dirhams. When it comes to health and education, which we consider to be among the most important sectors for our people, the indicators of the health sector point to a significant progress. Our expenditure on the health sector has increased from 1.18 billion dirhams when I first assumed office to over 3.82 billion currently. The number of doctors has increased from ten to over seventeen thousand.
In education, we have increased public sector expenditure by 57% to reach 9.75 billion dirhams annually. The number of accredited programs in UAE universities has grown from 206 to 862. The rate of kindergarten enrolment has grown to 93%, making UAE among the highest globally. The rate of high school graduation has also reached 93%, which also makes us among the highest globally as well. Our work together across all sectors has been tireless. The Excellence awards, Strategic Planning and Government Service Improvement programs, Electronic and Smart Government initiatives, as well as the government performance management systems have not been a waste of time and effort.
Our public sector has witnessed significant improvement. The concept of Excellence and reaching first place have become deeply rooted in our government culture. No wonder, then, our public sector has seen marked improvements according to a number of internationally recognised indicators.
The UAE leads the Middle East today in over a hundred pivotal development indicators. In fact, our nation leads globally in a number of indictors, such as the quality of our public infrastructure, roads, maritime and aviation facilities, public safety and security, the rate of female enrolment in our universities, government efficiency and trust in the government, among others. In 2006, the rate of road accident fatalities was approximately 16 to each 100 thousand population.
Today, thanks to the sincere and assiduous work by the teams at the Ministry of Interior, the rate stands at 5.9 to every 100 thousand and continues to improve. Detailing the accomplishments of our government teams over the past ten years requires much more room than this short address. My message today is not only about celebrating our achievements, but also evaluating the challenges ahead.
A few years ago, we announced the Indicators for our National Agenda. There are 52 national key performance indicators in education, health, housing, society, infrastructure, economy, environment, security, justice, and safety, among others, which we aim at achieving by 2021, to be among the best countries globally by that date, which marks the 50th anniversary of our Union. These indicators form historic goals for us in the next five years. They constitute the greatest challenges ahead of us; challenges we must overcome in the years to come.
A week ago, I received a detailed report about the current progress in achieving these indicators – it stands at 62%, which means 38% of the indicators have not been effectively achieved. We have only 5 years remaining, a very short period in the life of a nation. It is not our custom to appease or ingratiate anyone, because courtesy at the expense of the country is not a sign of nationalism.
Today, we issued a directive to form government teams called “The National Agenda Execution Teams”. The teams comprise 550 members of our government across all sectors and departments, responsible for fulfilling the indicators. The teams will be under my direct supervision to intensify our efforts, mobilise our assets, and redouble our work in the coming period, in order to reach one hundred per cent of the goals of our National Agenda by the year 2021.
There is no room for procrastination, no time for delay. History is a witness to all of us. We have promised our people to accomplish what is best and we shall fulfil our promise. Government work is an honourable duty, and our government will ceaselessly and tirelessly implement its plans and fulfil its objectives. I will lead this effort and the teams behind it personally. We ask God to guide us to what is best for our country and nation. More info