Saturday, 10th June 2023

Sheikh Khalifa: Redefining future of leadership and strengthening UAE-Nigeria ties

By Dr. Fahad Obaid Al-Taffaq
21 May 2022   |   4:00 am
As we mourn the loss of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, what we have gained from his guidance and humanitarian servitude towards others has been nothing short of exceptional.

Photo by BANDAR AL-JALOUD / Saudi Royal Palace / AFP

As we mourn the loss of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, what we have gained from his guidance and humanitarian servitude towards others has been nothing short of exceptional.

In less than two decades, he transformed the UAE and built stronger bridges with countries across the world to promote peaceful coexistence and prosperity for all. As our leader, he made a life-changing impact on everyone he met.

The knowledge and wisdom of the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed has been projected in the rapid development and progress of the UAE as one of the most politically stable countries in the world. This is evident from the numbers of global leaders and seniors from more than 160 countries who visited Abu Dhabi to personally offer their condolences, alongside poignant tributes on the impact he made globally, particularly in relation to peace and prosperity.

The visit of President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to Abu Dhabi on Friday to offer his condolences highlights the strength of international relationships built under the leadership period of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

In his condolence statement, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, defined his loss to the global community as one that “has robbed the world of one of its visionary and most remarkable leaders of modern times.”

Furthermore, H.E. Buhari demonstrated the commitment of the Nigerian government to greater cooperation with the UAE in his congratulatory statement issued after the election of President H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. H.E. Buhari stated that he was “confident that under the new leader, such cooperation will grow bigger and stronger.”

As we reflect on the milestones and achievements of the late Sheikh Khalifa, his humanitarian actions remained a consistently integral part of his service to the nation and in supporting countries globally. Having followed in the footsteps of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late Sheikh Zayed maintained the provision of humanitarian and development aid, as a vital component of the UAE’s foreign policy.

As a result of this approach, the UAE has strengthened its cultural approach in its relations with other countries, and established cooperation between different peoples to achieve peace and prosperity.

A notable achievement of the UAE’s humanitarian values is establishing the Dubai International Humanitarian City (IHC). The facility’s capability was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic when the UAE supplied over 136 countries with 2,250 tons of medical supplies that consisted of vaccines, ventilators, testing equipment, and personal protective equipment to combat the pandemic. The late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed exceeded his humanitarian interventions and sought to advocate equal access to vaccines for African nations. The UAE, as a result, continues to be at the forefront of global efforts to provide vaccines to African countries to support their recovery from the healthcare and economic effects of COVID-19.

With over 200 nationalities calling the UAE home, the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed’s encouragement towards tolerance culminated in his declaration of 2019 as the Year of Tolerance. Its center piece event was the meeting of two of the most important religious leaders in the world, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Chair of the Muslim Council of Elders, and His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, which resonated beyond the United Arab Emirates, as a leading nation in spreading the values of giving and peaceful coexistence, and a driver of dialogue between religions.

Through the guiding compass of the late Sheikh Khalifa, the UAE celebrated its Golden Jubilee last year to mark 50 years since its founding, and to launch the ‘Projects of the 50’, which are a series of developmental and economic projects to accelerate UAE’s development and establish its status as an ideal destination for talents and investors.

Additionally, the UAE has prioritized economic projects in line with the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These actions were not limited locally, as the UAE has pledged to allocate more than USD 840 million to renewable energy projects in more than 30 countries. These measures, alongside the success of the UAE in its economic diversification journey, continue to provide the required impetus for many countries dependent on non-renewable resources to start their economic transformation projects.

The UAE continues to be highly regarded as a global partner and exemplary model. This was evident after the nation won the bid to host the United Nations climate change conference (COP28) in 2023. The summit, described as the most important gathering on climate change will take place in Abu Dhabi, bringing nations together and enabling the UAE to generate stronger partnerships and innovative solutions, while accelerating coordinated action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC.

A new phase for the UAE began with the unanimous election by the Supreme Council of the Federation of President H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. As the third President of the United Arab Emirates, a new phase beckons with a solid foundation and even greater ambitions and aspirations.

It was H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who launched the “Reaching the Last Mile Fund”, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which played a critical role in eliminating preventable diseases affecting the world’s most vulnerable communities. It has helped millions of children and adults to enjoy healthy and dignified lives. Over the past decade and more, His Highness has committed more than USD 470 million to improve healthier outcomes for people globally through the aforementioned initiative.

Politically, His Highness’ dedication to supporting tolerance and peaceful coexistence has placed him at the forefront of global efforts to combat extremist ideologies alongside other partners globally. Playing a principal role in backing international efforts to tackle the socio-political issues in Sahel countries has been a constant fixture of his agenda. Between 2018-2020, he played a crucial role in the UAE’s provision of humanitarian aid worth USD 467 million to countries of the Sahel region. And in July 2018, he also acted diplomatically in the successful mediation of one of the most protracted border disputes in Africa between Ethiopia and Eritrea. A unique aspect of these humanitarian interventions has been the constant position of the UAE to seek and provide trade and investment opportunities with other countries. This position is driven by the belief that the best method of international cooperation focuses on development that reduces poverty and unemployment rates and that achieving this is critical to maintaining stability and eliminating extremism and terrorism.

Thus, the UAE possesses an illustrious history of strong and effective leadership for its people and the region. This culture continues today, with His Highness Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, who has witnessed the nation first-hand as a global partner for development and prosperity.

• Dr. Fahad Obaid Al-Taffaq is United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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