Ambassador Al Otaiba National Day Reception Remarks

December 2, 2016

Good evening, everyone.

On behalf of all our Emirati friends and diplomats, welcome to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates.

I’m happy to see so many familiar faces here to celebrate our country’s 45th National Day.

For us, National Day is a time we celebrate. We celebrate our country, our people, and our leaders.

Tonight, we are excited to highlight how – in just 45 short years – the UAE has emerged as a center of innovation. We are harnessing creative energy, talent, and vision as a force for positive change in the Middle East.

In a difficult neighborhood, the UAE is creating a different path that is based on openness, tolerance, and cooperation among all people.

It’s a model – and a mindset – that emphasizes learning; it encourages out-of-the box thinking in order to meet the challenges of today; and anticipates the needs of tomorrow.

This mindset is grounded in the vision of Sheikh Zayed, who recognized that we must adapt to thrive in a rapidly changing world. It is as much a part of Emirati DNA as the welcoming hospitality of our culture.

Our efforts are achieving results. We’ve become a global hub for business, creativity, and innovation.

More than 200 nationalities live in the UAE. We have the region’s most diversified economy and population. 95% of Emirati girls and 80% of boys who finish high school attend college.

For the 6th year in a row, Burson-Marsteller’s survey on Arab youth chose the UAE as the country in which they most want to live.

We are also the top country in the Arab world where people want to start a business.

And, the 2016 Global Innovation Index said the UAE has the “best environment for innovation” in the Arab world. 

These are impressive figures, but there is more work to be done. There is always more work to be done.

So, we recently launched a National Innovation Strategy to achieve specific goals by 2020.

It is helping the UAE attract talented young people from all over the world. They are coming to the UAE to turn their ideas into reality.

It is also creating new ways to cooperate with US partners – like DC-based incubator 1776, 3-D printing leader Autodesk, and manufacturing and technology giant 3M.

This forward-looking way of thinking allows the UAE to remain reliable, constructive, and equal partners with our friends in the US.

This spirit of innovation touches every aspect of life in the UAE. And tonight, we’re lucky to be joined by someone who is leading this effort.

Mr. Saif Al Aleeli is the CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation. He wears many different hats, including Secretary General of the World Federation of Future Sports; a member of the World Government summit organizing committee; and a founding member of the Global Blockchain Council.

Under Saif’s leadership, the Dubai Future Foundation team challenges existing notions by thinking outside of the box, and innovating with a purpose.

What does that mean in a place like the UAE?

Please watch the following short video that highlights some of these initiatives.