By Beatrice Thomas
Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan reiterates links between Gulf state and the African country
UAE deputy prime minister HH Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has lauded the nation’s links to Egypt declaring "the enemy of Egypt is the enemy of the UAE".
In a keynote speech on the opening day of the Government Summit, Sheikh Saif praised the late UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his vision for a united Emirates, and pointed to his decision to send his eldest son, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, current leader of the UAE, to the Egyptian frontline in 1973 as an example of how he sought to prepare his son for leadership.
"Egypt was very dear to the heart of the late Sheikh Zayed," he said, adding that this sentiment continued through the present-day leadership.
"Egypt is dear to the hearts of all of us.
"In 1973 the UAE stood by the Egypt people against one enemy, who is Israel at that time. The enemy of Egypt is the enemy of the UAE and the enemy of the Egyptian people is the enemy of the Emirati people."
In a wide-ranging address themed on 'Exceptional Leadership', Sheikh Saif also used the occasion in front of a packed Arena Hall at the Madinat Jumeirah to laud the UAE govrenment’s efforts to overcome tough economic times and heralded a new era of e-government.
Sheikh Saif, who is also Minister of Interior, said between 2008 and now the world had passed variously through political, health and security crises, with 31 million jobs lost in Europe alone.
However, showing footage of fireworks and a rocket launch, he said the UAE had in this time succeeded in launching three satellites, secured the Formula 1 Grand Prix and more recently won the right to host the World Expo 2020.
"Also, we held the Government Summit in 2012 in the midst of this crisis," he said.
He said despite the economic crisis, foreign investment in the UAE had increased by 40 percent since 2008 with traveller numbers through its airports up by 113 percent.
Contributing to this, UAE leaders took the "bold step" to increase aircraft orders to boost the sector, which was in contrast to other aviation companies that were "losing money due to not buying planes".
"Not every leader sees this," he said. "But an exceptional leader can do this."
Sheikh Saif said while companies lost millions of jobs in the UAE during the downturn, the government insisted that construction and development continue - a decision that had resulted now in real estate prices at levels close to those at 2008.
He said the UAE in the next seven years hoped to be ranked first worldwide for security, infrastructure, "easiness of work" and response times.
Highlighting a key government driver to ensure happiness for its people, Sheikh Saif said despite being ranked first in the Arab world for happiness in a Columbia University survey it wanted to improve on this.
He also welcomed the country's ranking of first in a worldwide survey for the absence of organised crime.
Sheikh Saif praised UAE President Sheikh Khalifa’s vision to establish electronic government services in the UAE, which he said he recognised as the next phase in government.
"Today (Sheikh Khalifa) says the government should turn into an electronic government because he sees the future," he said.