Today the UAE celebrates the Golden Jubilee of the union of the Seven Emirates. This occasion marks a sincere reflection of the federation’s journey rich in monumental events and achievements, building on the foundation that was first laid down by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his brothers, the fellow founding fathers. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, follows in their footsteps, leading our nation in its journey towards the future.
Since its foundation on December 2, 1971, the UAE has followed the principle of promoting peace, security and sustainable development in various parts of the region and the world. Through his vision, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – may his soul rest in peace – guided the UAE towards the adoption of a successful and active foreign policy based on balance, moderation, and non-interference in internal affairs.
Under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, our country continues its journey, emphasizing, deepening and developing this dimension through great contributions at various humanitarian, political and economic levels, inspired by the policies, thoughts, etiquette, and values of the Rulers of the Emirates.
It is with great pleasure I wish to mention that through its embassies and representative missions around the globe, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation makes restless efforts to ensure the safety and security of Emirati citizens overseas and to be the link between them and the country’s visionary leadership through all its departments, embassies and representative missions around the world, in an effort to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation with other countries, and to foster economic and cultural development, and peace in the world.
In June 2021, member states of the United Nations General Assembly elected the UAE to serve on the Security Council for the term 2022-2023. The UAE has reiterated its strong belief in the importance of building bridges to promote relations among the Council members and to renew the confidence of Member States in the ability of the Security Council to respond effectively to international challenges facing international peace and security.
The United Arab Emirates won the membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the period 2022-2024 for the third time since the establishment of the state. This victory is the culmination of the wise policies pursued by the UAE in consolidating rights and freedoms. It reflects its unremitting efforts at the regional and international levels, and its consistent approach to cooperation with the United Nations and its various bodies to tackle all the challenges facing the international community and to reach a more prosperous future for all countries and peoples of the world. The election of the UAE as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council is reflective of the role the country plays in defending human rights in every country around the world.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, the UAE attained achievements in several areas at the national level as well as at the regional and international levels, and Emirati women were at the forefront, partners in a developmental course that reaps successes with unparalleled determination. Emirati women have been an integral part in the most prominent achievements of the UAE during the past period, attesting to considerable role and active presence of the daughters of the UAE in various fields, as they demonstrated the extent of capabilities and competencies that qualify them to lead and manage several key and vital projects in the sectors of advanced science, space, energy and health. Their role was embodied in the arrival of the “Hope Probe” to the orbit of planet Mars, the beginning of the successful and safe operation of the first reactor at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, in addition to their success and leadership in efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic locally and globally.
This year the United Arab Emirates is hosting the EXPO 2020 Dubai, which coincides with the country’s Golden Jubilee. This is a crucial milestone in the country’s development and a landmark event which is a key international platform underscoring the values of solidarity, cooperation and innovation. It is an opportunity for promoting cooperation between countries to ensure the connection of minds to shape the future, as well as to exchange expertise and enhance collective action to achieve sustainable and balanced development.
This year the UAE and Sri Lanka complete 41 years of Diplomatic Relations between the two nations. Over these years the two countries have had a relationship that has grown stronger in every field of engagement, be it trade, knowledge sharing, cultural etc. On this occasion, I would like to hail the bilateral relations between our two friendly countries. These relations found their roots in the principles of cooperation and mutual respect.
The UAE is a leading source of foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka, and is one of the largest trading partners in the Middle East with a trade exchange representing more than half of Sri Lanka’s trade with the Middle East. UAE direct investments in Sri Lanka amounted to 18 billion US dollars during the years 2020 and 2021, while bilateral trade amounted to 2.3 billion US dollars during the same period.
A number of joint venture trade projects are being implemented in both countries, helping to link the two countries together even more closely. Charitable and welfare institutions in the UAE continue to provide a lot of aid and humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka in order to uplift the life of the underprivileged in different parts of the island nation.
I take this opportunity to convey my sincere and heartfelt greetings to the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and to the government and people of Sri Lanka, wishing them progress and prosperity in the years ahead.