Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba's Remarks at the Foundation for Afghanistan Inaugural Dinner

September 13, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC (September 2012) - Below are remarks from His Excellency Ambassador Al Otaiba at the Foundation for Afghanistan Inaugural Dinner.

(L-R)  Shamim Jawad,  Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security,  H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States,  H.E. Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad, Foundation for Afghanistan Founder

"Ambassador Jawad, fellow Ambassadors and Diplomats, Members of Congress and other distinguished guests, thank you for joining me this evening.

Although we are gathered to celebrate the power of partnerships to create better lives for people, I am here with a heavy heart.  Because of senseless, deplorable violence, we have lost an esteemed member of the Diplomatic Community, Ambassador Chris Stevens.  I want to extend the deepest condolences to the US Government and my American colleagues.  The families of Ambassador Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith and the two American security staff who also perished yesterday are in my thoughts and prayers.  In many ways, this horrible incident highlights the challenges we face – as diplomats and concerned citizens of a global community.  However, it also underscores the need for the important work being done by the Foundation for Afghanistan to help societies advance and flourish.  

In a just a few short years of existence, the Foundation has quickly established itself as a catalyst to facilitate the redevelopment of Afghanistan, and create social and economic opportunities for the women and youth of that country.  Your work is truly inspiring, and it is with great honor and humility that I accept this inaugural award on behalf of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE recognized the urgent need to help reverse this cycle. And in 2003 my government made a ten-year commitment to support the development of Afghanistan through economic and humanitarian assistance.  Working alongside the US and NATO allies, UAE philanthropic foundations have completed key infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.  These projects include the construction of 11 schools, 6 medical clinics, a major hospital, a public library and over 40 mosques.  Our military Special Forces are helping the US and coalition partners remove land mines, secure villages and improve life in some of Afghanistan’s most ravaged areas.  Progress is being made to re-build the institutions that the country so badly needs, but much more work must be done to train and empower the people of AfghanistaThat’s where the Foundation for Afghanistan plays such a critical role. By providing scholarships for women, internships for students, and institutional development programs, the Foundation is helping cultivate the next generation of Afghan leaders, whether they are teachers, entrepreneurs or politicians.

Queen Soraya, for whom this award is named, worked tirelessly to promote access and education for women and girls. She understood that a country’s greatest assets are its people – a value shared by the UAE.

My country is proud to support the efforts of the Afghan people, as they strive to realize their aspirations and improve the nation’s social and economic conditions. This is undoubtedly in the national interest of the UAE.  However, as members of a global community, we all play an important role to ensure a stable and secure Afghanistan for future generations.  And I applaud all of your continued efforts to realize this important goal.   

On behalf of the Government of the United Arab Emirates, and the Embassy, thank you very much for this great honor".