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TEXT: Since the inception of the United Arab Emirates in 1971 and its establishment as one of the most important constitutional institutions in the UAE, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has been a founding institution of United Arab Emirates society. It has been and continues to be a window overlooking the world for Emiratis citizens, protecting the interests of the country and its citizens abroad. It conveys the vision of the Emirati leadership, which emphasizes the values of human fraternity, and always calls for the alleviation of human suffering regardless of gender or religion, stressing the importance of global peace and conflict resolution through dialogue and peaceful means.

Since its founding on 2 December 1971, the United Arab Emirates has embraced the principles of peaceful co-existence, mutual respect and non-interference in other countries internal affairs as cornerstones of the country's foreign policy. Building on the legacy of the UAE founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the visionary leadership of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, continues the journey by actively contributing to the welfare of nations regardless of colour, race or ethnicity. This trait stems from the profound Islamic beliefs in peace and tolerance.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation reflects the bright face and character of the Emirati society. It serves as a window to the outside world, communicating the thoughts and vision of the UAE leadership, asserting the values of peaceful co-existence, and lending assistance to all those who might need it. Furthermore, the Ministry also the importance of attaining global peace and amicably resolving international disputes through dialogue and legal arbitration.

Through its embassies, diplomatic missions and diplomats around the globe, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation serves as the link between the wise leadership and people of the UAE and the rest of the world. The Ministry, strengthening friendship and closer ties with other nations, is working hard to safeguard the interests of Emiratis and promoting economic and cultural development and peace in the world. These efforts have earned UAE citizens considerable respect all around the world, and raised the image of the UAE on the regional and international stage.

Cultural and public diplomacy

Cultural and Public Diplomacy includes, but is not limited to, the exchange of ideas, art and language for the greater purpose of creating understanding between nations and people. Cultural and Public Diplomacy supports dialogue, education and cultural exchange in the service of improved mutual respect, international collaboration and global prosperity.

The UAE was built on our Founding Father Sheikh Zayed's foundational values of tolerance, peace, and stability. His guiding strategy was to show friendship towards all cultures and peoples, promote moderate Islam, and work for mutually advantageous cooperation with all nations.

Today, Sheikh Zayed's historical vision is reflected in a thriving and tolerant nation that hosts more than 200 nationalities, has a 93% literacy rate, welcomes over 15 million tourists annually, and is proud of the fact that 70% of all its university graduates are women.

The UAE is home to over 40 churches and other places of worship, as well as numerous world-class centres of education and culture. In effect, the values of tolerance, religious freedom and mutual respect championed by Sheikh Zayed are ingrained in the UAE's DNA. In 2020, the UAE ranked first in the region and 18th internationally in the Global Soft Power Index. This is a testament to the nation's ongoing commitment to ensuring an environment of opportunity, innovation, development and tolerance for all citizens, residents and visitors to the UAE and ensuring respectful, mutually beneficial and peaceful relationships with the international community.

Countries must work together to build trust and understanding to tackle global challenges together successfully. Cultural and Public Diplomacy aids in eliminating the divisions and distrust between nations and allows the international community to work together in addressing challenges such as climate change, extremism, gender equality and education.

“The Daughters of the UAE”: partners in the UAE’s successful journey

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 development process 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.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Emirati women have been an integral part of the national response, to combine efforts at the national and international levels to contain the repercussions of this epidemic. They have proven their distinguished role in the first line of defense, a role that has been pivotal in the success of the remote work system. They have exerted every effort to protect and care for all family members throughout this crisis and their remarkable benevolent work has contributed to providing support and assistance to all affected groups.

Emirati women have assumed distinguished positions in diplomacy, effectively contributing to weaving the country’s wide network of relations and strengthening its regional and international partnerships with all countries and extending a helping hand to societies in need of support and assistance, consolidating international and multilateral cooperation in exceptional circumstances prevailing globally.

Emirati women currently hold various diplomatic positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, where they make up 42.5% percent of the workforce. The UAE diplomatic corps includes ten Emirati women ambassadors, in addition to one Consul General.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s approach in empowering Emirati women confirms the vision of the wise Emirati leadership to support and empower Emirati women as an integral part of Emirati society, and women’s active role alongside men to contribute to the comprehensive development process the country is witnessing.

MOFAIC: Smart attestation and the future of entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates

In line the UAE leadership’s directives and visionary stance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), proactively invested in state-of-the-art technologies and established an advanced digital infrastructure to provide its customers with a range of electronic and smart services.

The accelerating surge of business in the UAE has grown conspicuous despite the challenges the world is facing due to the Covid 19 pandemic. This probably stems from the UAE government’s recent orientations to further openness to the world, return to normal life and attract talent and business, within strategic decisions aimed at enabling the country to elevate its ranking and score for the ease of doing business indicator, particularly after it ranked first regionally and fourth globally in the Entrepreneurship Index according to the report issued by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor GEM - NECI for the year 2020, in addition to the indicators of the best and safest destinations for citizens and for residents.

Such catalysts, developments and ensuing challenges, along with the UAE’s strategy for government services that aims to provide 100% state-of-the-art digital services accessible anywhere and around the clock, prompted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to pursue its efforts towards establishing a new landscape for attestation services provided to entrepreneurs and companies, to facilitate their work. The Ministry sought to upscale the quality of services in line with the requirements of the business community, in partnership with the Federal Customs Authority and the Ministry of Finance. This, in turn, would contribute in strengthening the country’s the economy.

Ahead of its expected launch in 2022, the Smart Attestation System will go through two phases: the first will link it to the systems of the Federal Customs Authority and local customs departments in the UAE, and the second will include linking with local departments and other UAE government agencies. We aspire to establish a unified customs link with the competent authorities abroad.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is always keen on establishing partnerships with government agencies across the country to move forward, to make UAE government directions a tangible reality for citizens and residents in the country and overseas. In line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan - Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry continuously seeks to provide outstanding services that align with the prestigious stature the UAE has achieved and earned regionally and internationally, thanks to the vision of our wise leadership, and we are certain that our investment in human minds and smart services will place the UAE in the lead, in all fields.

As part of the preparations for the next 50 years, the Ministry ranked among the best government entities in digital services in the Federal Government and has achieved third place among the 30 governmental entities. MOFAIC workgroups have worked to develop short-term and long-term solutions for the development of MOFAIC services to enhance systems in place and achieve excellence and efficiency, and ensure the provision of outstanding services to the Ministry's customers, businesses, in addition to diplomatic, federal and local entities.

Economic diplomacy:

Through its global network of missions and embassies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) aims to attract foreign investments, encourage outbound investments, promote trade, and strengthen bilateral and multilateral economic relationships. These operations make up the core of the UAE's economic diplomacy, which ultimately supports the long-term economic and societal needs of the UAE highlighted under Vision 2021 and the 2071 Centenary Plan.

The UAE continues to create a diversified economy while still sustainably reaping the benefits of its abundant natural resources. MoFAIC plays a vital role in ensuring that the UAE benefits from global economic trends by consolidating and strengthening its position as a key player on the world stage. The UAE's economy is already the Arab World's second-largest, with robust and sustainable growth generated through tourism, transport and logistics, financial services, real estate, banking, and renewable energy. Increasingly, the UAE is looking to the future economy, prioritizing investments in education, information technology, artificial intelligence, health, and industrial manufacturing.

The UAE has an impressive track record of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through favourable tax regulations, developed infrastructure, and minimising barriers to establishing a business. The UAE continually demonstrates its determination to provide the best possible regulatory environment for investments. The 2018 FDI Law opens up numerous economic sectors for 100 percent foreign ownership. This new framework supports investments that build regional and global value through production chains focused on advanced and high-value industries.

The UAE has also worked to facilitate outward investment, including establishing successful sovereign wealth funds. Through these funds, the UAE had become a significant investor in many parts of the world. The returns generated by these funds are invested back into the development of the UAE, with a substantial portion going to projects in energy, industry, communication and information technology, infrastructure, healthcare, and renewable energy.

MoFAIC ensures clarity over taxation and investment issues by supporting national efforts to sign bilateral Double Taxation Agreements and Bilateral Investment Treaties (also known as Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements). MoFAIC also assists in signing bilateral aviation agreements, which is critical given the UAE's aviation sector size, hosting two of the world's leading airlines: Emirates and Etihad.

Through substantial investments in infrastructure, the UAE has emerged as a regional and global trading hub. This is further bolstered by the UAE's strategic geographic location between Asia, Europe, and Africa and is a gateway to the Middle East. In seeking to increase trade volume further, the UAE is a leading proponent of global free trade and has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 1996.

MoFAIC works closely with Emirate-level investment promotion agencies, the private sector, sovereign wealth funds, business councils, and other economic actors to ensure successful outcomes through economic diplomacy. For example, in late 2019, the Emirates Diplomatic Academy hosted the Economic Diplomacy Seminar for the UAE and Saudi Arabia, strengthening the economic might of the two nations.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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