New President famously spoke about a future without oil in 2015
The UAE’s newly elected President, Sheikh Mohamed, has delivered some memorable and thought-provoking quotes during his time as Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince.
Sheikh Mohamed became the third president in the UAE’s history, after the death of Sheikh Khalifa on Friday, marking the culmination of a life dedicated to public service, first as a soldier and then as a long-serving leader.
Through his work and his words, Sheikh Mohamed has advocated peace, has helped to develop and protect a thriving nation and looked to build a prosperous future for the UAE and those who are less fortunate in the world.
Preparing for a future without oil
Possibly one of Sheikh Mohamed’s most famous quotes was the speech delivered at the World Government Summit in 2015 when he spoke about a future without oil.
“Our best bet at this period of time where we have wealth is to invest all our resources in education because there will be a time, 50 years from now, when we load the last barrel of oil aboard the ship,” he said.
“The question is, 50 years from now after we have loaded this last barrel of oil, are we going to feel sad? If our investment today is right, I think – dear brothers and sisters – we will celebrate that moment.”
In a speech delivered on the UAE’s 39th National Day in 2010, Sheikh Mohamed spoke about education being a cornerstone of preparing the country for a future without oil.
“Our reliance upon knowledge and scientific thinking to achieve total development is the only way to bring our nation ahead to the stage of non-oil production, a lesson learnt from nations with little or no natural resources,” he said.
Do not worry – this time will pass
When the world was coming to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic, Sheikh Mohamed addressed the nation in March 2020 and sought to reassure citizens and residents that the pandemic would pass and people would eventually be able to return to their normal lives.
He guaranteed them they would not have to worry about food or medical supplies, as other nations grappled with panic buying and empty supermarket shelves.
“I’d like you to keep this in mind, this time shall pass,” he said.
“But it requires some patience. We must have a positive outlook during these challenges.
“We must be stronger, we must be healthier, and we must be more advanced … we must have a positive outlook during these challenges.
“We are not just living for today or tomorrow, we are living to secure the future of our grandchildren, not just our children. This is our duty … do not worry.”
In comments made a few weeks later, Sheikh Mohamed said watching videos of residents singing the UAE national anthem to hail the frontline heroes for their fight against Covid-19 moved him to tears.
“Many residents on social media are singing our national anthem and I want to confess to all viewers that when I heard you, by God, I shed a tear,” he said in a video posted online.
Praise for Abraham Accords
In December, the Washington Institute presented Sheikh Mohamed with its highest honour – the Scholar-Statesman Award – for his leadership in securing peace with Israel in September 2020 and for fostering religious tolerance.
Speaking after receiving the award, Sheikh Mohamed said: “Every decision has risks, undoubtedly. We are also living in a complex region. But the rewards are an incentive, and the outcomes we will achieve together are far greater than the drawbacks.
“When we decided on this step, we were looking forward to a level of co-operation that goes beyond just peace itself. The UAE aspires to a greater peace, one that is for the benefit of all.”
Net-zero challenge – protecting the environment
A committed conservationist, Sheikh Mohamed spoke about protecting the environment at the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit in 2009.
“We have to strike a balance of responsibility between our duty to update other sources of energy, protecting the environment, protecting our environment and ensuring a proper legacy for the next generations,” he said.
Four years later, at the inauguration ceremony of Shams 1 – the largest renewable energy project in operation in the Middle East when launched in 2013 – he spoke about the need for research to develop alternative sources of energy.
“The future, with its needs and challenges, calls upon us to embark on a perpetual quest for alternative sources of energy,” he said. “This can only be done through the support of relevant scientific research.”
The UAE announced in October an ambitious strategic initiative to reduce carbon emissions by 2050, with new investments worth Dh600bn ($163.35bn) planned in clean and renewable energy sources over the next three decades.
“The UAE’s Net Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative announced today is consistent with the longstanding vision of the UAE and its people to make a significant contribution to global sustainability efforts, while supporting economic and human development both at home and around the world,” he said.
Spreading the values of tolerance
In 2019, Pope Francis completed a historic visit to the UAE as part of the Year of Tolerance.
During the three-day visit, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, signed the Human Fraternity Document, a guide to promoting a culture of mutual respect and dialogue for peaceful coexistence and fraternity among human beings.
Marking the International Day of Human Fraternity in February, Sheikh Mohamed said: “By working together, we can address complex challenges and forge a path towards greater peace and prosperity for the entire world. On this International Day of Human Fraternity, we reaffirm our solemn commitment to advancing tolerance and understanding to build a better future for all.”
Eradicating tropical diseases
Sheikh Mohamed, following the footsteps of his father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has long shown a commitment to the eradication of tropical diseases.
In January last year, after he announced renewed financial support of $10 million to the Carter Centre, following the 30th anniversary of the organisation’s partnership with the UAE, he said: “In the UAE, we have seen first-hand the vital link between health and prosperity, and we remain steadfast in our vision of a world where every person deserves to live a healthy, dignified life.”
Updated: May 17, 2022, 7:06 AM