Monday, May 23, 2011

A call for a UAE SOTU

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi makes the case for a public State of the Union address. After all, he points out, the United Arab Emirates is a successful union about to celebrate its 40th year.

Next December is an opportune occasion to institutionalise a state of the union address custom. It would coincide with the 40th anniversary of the UAE, a brand new parliament, and the 10-year countdown to Vision 2021. In fact, what Vision 2021 lacked when it was announced were clear milestones and a practical annual timetable to achieve these goals, one at a time....

The UAE President, or whomever he chooses to delegate, can deliver the speech in a giant hall, perhaps in a different emirate every year, in the presence of UAE crown princes, Cabinet ministers, members of parliament, ambassadors, senior judges and public intellectuals along with selected stakeholders in the community.

It would be an opportunity to remind Emiratis and residents, along with the government itself, to take responsibility for the current UAE budget deficit of almost Dh3 billion. Educational, environmental, political, social and economic challenges that face the UAE could be outlined along with external and internal threats to the federation. It would also reflect the number of jobs created for Emiratis, especially in the lesser-developed parts of the country, progress towards making the UAE more competitive as well as UAE advances in science, technology and research.

Already with 2011, the President can highlight the second Federal National Council election results, the UAE forces' participation in peacekeeping efforts in Libya and Afghanistan, the streamlining of federal registration offices, progress in women's empowerment such as the appointment of female prosecutors, and the introduction of laws that regulate so-called white fire arms. For 2012, the UAE has already set a goal of having 100 per cent broadband internet penetration across the country, making it the first country in the world to do so.

At a time when it is tricky to speak your mind, Mr. Al Qassemi continues to show his adeptness at making his points diplomatically.

Read it all.

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