The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is presently celebrating its Golden Jubilee, highlighting fifty years of resplendent progress and heralding plans for an even more effulgent future. The celebrations were marked by a series of exotic events and exhibitions known as the Expo 2020, which commenced last year on October 21 and are scheduled to last until March 31. The spectacle seemed to have enthused almost the entire world, as 192 countries are showcasing the best and most emblematic of their culture, creativity and excellence at their pavilions at this global gala. Pakistan has also set up its pavilion to elicit its avenues and potential for trade, tourism and investment. Yet the most stunning aspect of this conclave that is claimed to have brought the best of the world to one place, is the miracle and the marvel that transformed the land, people and the lives of the nine states that joined to become a part of their broader union. Prior to its formation, their lives were mostly mired to the nomadic desert routine and rituals or sailing the seas for fishing and some precious stones.
Life under these conditions was evidently quite arduous with an expectancy around fifty years and its quality, means and facilities like health, housing, years of schooling and per capita income as indicated by the in the Human Development Index (HDI), ranked 62nd in the world. It has now ascended to be the 35th out of 189 countries. Pakistan, still crawling at the 154th slot, can have quite a clear idea of the relative change and development. The entire face of its land and skyline have changed. bustling with the high rise residential and shopping complexes, hotels, ski, scuba, sea resorts, recreation centres and flying cars.
In higher education, it established the first ever university in 1976 but their sprawl has now risen to 33 including the campuses of some renowned western institutions. The adult literacy levels accordingly have risen from 48 to 95 percent for men as well as women. The mean span of schooling increased from three to nine years. It has the second largest number of English-medium international schools in the world (625) with an impressive teacher per student ratio ranging from 5.3 to 16 for pre- primary to tertiary tiers. The development in health facilities made Dubai and Abu Dhabi as the 6th and 8th largest destinations in global medical tourism. Its citizens, despite tremendous construction and expansion, enjoy a reasonable environment as the carbon dioxide emissions per capita have been reduced to about a quarter of the 1971 levels.
Plans for the next fifty years envisage even better health facilities, cleaner environment, sustainable development and evolving the world’s best, most efficient and responsive government with an inspirational and prescient leadership. The excellent knowledge-based economy is to be made the principal plank for further advancement designed to become one of the top global economies. A putsch for progress in advanced sciences, technology, engineering, research and innovation especially in health, space voyage and exploration would be prioritised to make their institutions the incubators of discovery and design, drawing the larger industrial and production empires for interaction and partnership. Nurturing the Emirati ethics and values for future generations to enhance social cohesion is also likewise anticipated.
The prime target, however, remains to accomplish the Agenda2030, comprising 17 Sustainable Development Goals stipulated by the UN. They range from the elimination of poverty, hunger, gender and socioeconomic inequality and the provision of quality education, health, justice, climate, cleaner energy and sustainable living, consumption practices and preservation of the ecosystem to counter the climate crisis including the spectre of sinking islands.
The UAE’ s emergence and eminence as a global oasis of tolerance and coexistence has been rather a unique and marvellous model beckoning not merely the Middle East but also many other Muslim countries. The acceptance and regard for diversity, coexistence, pluralism and avoiding excessive insular and morbid fixation for religious nuisances and practices have been the key ingredients of its progress.