ABU DHABI:-- "While people are proud of their achievements, we are proud of being the children of Sheikh Zayed, and while people talk of their history, we speak of the history of giving that began with the formation of the UAE," said the late His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, epitomising the nations’s approach from the first day it was established to its phase of empowerment, ushering in the birth of a powerful and successful nation.
On 4th November, 2004, Sheikh Khalifa assumed power and, up until his passing, helped the country, whose track record of achievements spans nearly 35 years, progress from the foundation phase to the empowerment stage.
Over this short period, the UAE has topped international competitiveness indexes and has become the second-largest economy in the Arab region, despite its small area and population.
Moreover, the UAE is the first Arab and Islamic nation to reach the planet Mars and one among few countries with significant achievements in the space sector.
The UAE’s achievements during the empowerment phase are reflected on the lives of its people and business community, making it the dream destination of anyone seeking success, stability, and wellbeing.
After assuming power, the late Sheikh Khalifa launched the first strategic plan of the UAE Government to achieve balanced and sustainable development and ensure the wellbeing of UAE residents.
In 2009, he was re-elected as the President of the country, and thanks to his wise leadership, the UAE overcame the financial crises and political issues facing the region due to his active foreign policy, which also enhanced the regional and international stature of the country.
How did the UAE manage to accomplish significant achievements during the empowerment phase? The Emirates News Agency (WAM) monitors these milestones and challenges in the following report:
1. The Health Sector.
The UAE’s leadership has prioritised the health sector and increased public spending on the sector, amounting at times to seven percent of the federal budget.
This fact is highlighted by the spending on the sector in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, which amounted to AED3.83 billion, AED4.2 billion, AED4.5 billion, AED4.4 billion and AED4.84 billion, respectively.
This policy also proved successful when the sector faced the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, demonstrating a high level of efficiency supported by the many well-equipped public and private hospitals.
The sector’s efficiency was further supported by the country’s efforts to establish media cities, including Khalifa City in Abu Dhabi, Dubai Medical City and Sharjah City.
Coinciding with these achievements, most Emirati hospitals are internationally accredited, and the country has become a leading medical destination, underpinned by the rising number of hospitals, which increased from 16 in 1975 to 169 in 2020.
These hospitals are managed by highly qualified medical staff, numbering 8,995 in 2020 in the government sector and 17,136 in the private sector, compared to 792 doctors in 1975.
The number of nurses also reached 56,045 working in the government sector in 2020, increasing 252 percent compared to 1975.
The country has prioritised health insurance and provided it to citizens for free, in addition to comprehensive medical coverage for all segments of society, especially the elderly and people of determination.
In 2017, the UAE established the first cancer treatment centre utilising proton technology in the Middle East and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.
The Emirates was also one of the first countries to use robotics in the pharmaceutical sector.
Smart rooms were established to provide entertainment services to patients and link their medical files with hospitals to provide comprehensive and effective care.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention has been keen to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) in medical services, used in over 100 facilities nationwide.
The UAE ranks first in the world in the number of accredited facilities, and more than 85 percent of Emirati hospitals have international accreditation.
2. Education Sector.
The UAE’s spending on the health and education sectors underscores the leadership’s belief in the importance of these two sectors to achieving sustainable development, with spending from 2016 to 2020 accounting for between 20 percent and 22 percent respectively of the federal budget.
With the budget allocated to the national education sector standing at AED10.41 billion, AED10.46 billion, AED10.40 billion, AED10.2 billion and AED6.536 billion for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively, the average share of the federal budget is 15 percent.
The UAE believes that the education system is the driver of development and ensures the right to free education for all citizens. From 2012, education became mandatory for everyone over the age of six until secondary education, which was reinforced by issuing the Children’s Rights Law (Wadeema).
The UAE’s education strategy confirms the establishment of an educational system based on the skills of the 21st century. It aims to provide higher education that can compete with the world’s best universities.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Initiative, launched in 2012, is an ideal model covering all schools in the country and creates a new educational environment in schools that includes smart classes.
In 1973, the country had 110 schools with 40,000 students, while in 2007, the percentage of educated citizens reached 88.7 percent of the population.
The UAE Vision 2021 highlighted the need to advance education in the country to the highest in the world and adopt a smart system as a primary goal.
The vision also confirmed that the upcoming years would witness comprehensive transformations in learning and education, led by smart education.
The national education strategy aims to ensure equal education, maintain the quality and efficiency of institutional education, promote scientific research, encourage students to enrol in higher education, achieve innovation, and support smart education.
Subsequently, the National Strategy for Higher Education 2030 affirms the importance of improving the scientific and technical skills of students, to support the growth of the economy.
At the same time, the UAE has kept pace with the latest innovations in the health sector. The government has launched many initiatives that encourage innovation in general and innovation in the medical field in particular.
The UAE is one of the few countries that utilises medical robotics technology when conducting major surgeries.