November 30, 2013
In nation building, one of the most important building blocks, perhaps even the cornerstone, is education
On the occasion of this 42nd UAE National Day, let us take a moment to look back at the hard work and forward thinking strategies that helped us reach this point today.
Since independence in 1971, the UAE leadership recognised the country’s amazing potential and set about laying the foundation for its progress and development. And critical to any success of a nation was first the success of its people, which founding father, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan rightly recognised as stemming from education. “The real asset of any advanced nation is its people, especially the educated ones, and the prosperity and success of the people are measured by the standard of their education,” he declared.
That is because in nation building, one of the most important building blocks, perhaps even the cornerstone, is education. It is the key to many other important goals and achievements. Education leads to gainful employment of the people, giving the individual an opportunity to use his or her potential to serve him or herself, their family, their community, society, and ultimately to contribute to the country. A happy, productive, educated individual is a major, necessary element of a successful nation.
That is why creating jobs is such an important focus of the UAE government. And not just any jobs, but productive, rewarding and empowering jobs are of particular focus — jobs that create wealth not only for the employee but also, for the employer and the country overall. The most valuable jobs for the UAE today are the ones that help the country achieve economic diversification.
Advancing beyond our reliance on fossil fuels will help the UAE not only gain greater economic security, by positioning multiple sources of national revenue, but also allow us to tap into a much more valuable resource — the Emirati people. The UAE’s world class infrastructure, access to information, rapidly improving academic sector, and national ambition can be utilised to help the UAE’s citizens and residents alike develop into high-value human capital. As scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers and technicians, the UAE’s people will help generate wealth and pride for the UAE.
Additionally, the more educated we have become, the more we understand ourselves, the world around us, and our challenges and opportunities. That is why the UAE leadership has also added sustainability to its national priorities. While even decades ago Shaikh Zayed recognised the value of preserving the UAE’s environment and resources, today we know even more how important it is to live within our means. Using our water and energy judiciously will help guarantee that our children and grandchildren have enough to also live well, which is in keeping with the UAE’s values of generosity and family.
Furthermore, global climate change has become an issue that affects us all. The problems it creates like air pollution, cyclones, famine and floods do not recognise borders. In order to safeguard the health, environment, and prosperity of the UAE, our leadership today has carried forward the values of sustainability first espoused by the founding father by making carbon emission reduction and renewable energy important national goals. To help achieve those goals, Abu Dhabi has also established a number of entities that aim to develop and promote the solutions needed to tackle global climate change.
Research and innovation
The Masdar Institute of which I am the president is a major element of this, acting to educate the UAE’s talented youth to allow them to contribute to the quality of life in the UAE through research, development and innovation. We are working with other institutes and industrial giants, from within the UAE and abroad, to achieve our shared goals of establishing a high-tech research and innovation ecosystem. We are extremely happy that local giants like Advanced Technology Innovation Company, Mubadala Aerospace, EMAL, etc., have put their trust in Masdar Institute to help them develop the technologies that will maintain their global competitiveness. We are also very happy that major international organisations and multinational groups are working with Masdar Institute in contributing to the quality of life as well as economic development of the country and the region.
With the guiding hand of our leaders and these ongoing efforts I am confident that with each passing UAE National Day, the country will draw ever closer to its goals of prosperity, sustainability and fulfilment of its people. We hope Masdar Institute and its partners will help the country not only achieve those goals, but many more in its certain bright future.
Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh is President of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology.