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Tue 31 Dec 2019 02:16 PM

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Hazza, Pope Francis, Year of Tolerance: the UAE's 2019 highlights

The UAE is set to bid farewell to the Year of Tolerance, with highlights including Hazza Al Mansoori's journey into space and Pope Francis' historic visit

Hazza, Pope Francis, Year of Tolerance: the UAE's 2019 highlights

Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori made history when he travelled to the International Space Station, becoming the first Arab astronaut to reach the station since its establishment in 1998.

The UAE is set to bid farewell to the Year of Tolerance, with highlights including Hazza Al Mansoori’s journey into space and Pope Francis’ historic visit.

The UAE also took the decision to raise the parliamentary participation of women to 50 percent during this year’s Federal National Council elections as the UAE Cabinet, led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, continues its efforts to achieve the UAE Vision 2021.

As 2020 looms, state news agency WAM has picked its highlights of 2019.

The UAE enhanced its reputation as a global centre of tolerance, through the signing of a Human Fraternity Document, a papal mass in Abu Dhabi and the hosting of the World Tolerance Summit.

Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, held a mass in the Zayed Sports City Stadium with the participation of over 180,000 people from around the world.

The UAE also announced the establishment of the Abrahamic Family House on Al Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi. The house will be opened in 2022 and will include a mosque, a church, and synagogue under one roof.

In 2019, the UAE held the fourth Federal National Council elections, which raised the parliamentary participation of Emirati women to 50 percent.

The election also recorded an increase in the number of people eligible to vote to over 337,000, while the total number of votes around the country reached 117,592.

Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori made history when he travelled to the International Space Station, becoming the first Arab astronaut to reach the station since its establishment in 1998.

The UAE strengthened its regional and international presence with the Emirati passport retaining it ranking as the world's most powerful passport.

The UAE continued its progress in Global Competitiveness Report, as it occupied the 25th position internationally in 2019, advancing two places from last year in the report issued by the World Economic Forum.

The UAE continued advancing its legislative infrastructure and issued many decrees, federal laws and ministerial decisions including a decision to amend provisions on the sponsoring of foreign workers, as well as the National Space Strategy 2030.

The UAE Cabinet also adopted decisions to amend and waive fees for a number of federal services to enhance the national economy, reduce costs to business owners and increase the competitiveness of the UAE.

The decisions were aimed to boost economic growth in the UAE, including the amendment or cancellation of fees for more than 1,500 government services and allowing 100 percent foreign ownership of 122 economic activities across 13 sectors.

The Cabinet also adopted a series of 10 decisions to support Emiratisation, while the third UAE Government Annual Meetings concluded in the launch of four national strategies related to soft power, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, higher education and water security.

2019 has also seen the launch of a work programme of the UAE Vision 2071, the launch of the UAE Bank for Jobs, which prioritises the appointment of Emirati citizens in 160 targeted professions, and the launch of Abu Dhabi School of Government.

The UAE approved its 2020 Federal Budget totalling AED61.354 billion without deficit, which is the largest since its establishment.

At the start of 2019, the UAE hosted the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, which witnessed the participation of 24 football teams for the first time in the history of the tournament.

It also organised Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, attended by some 7,500 athletes from around the world. The UAE was the fifth most decorated team winning 182 medals, including 64 golds, 55 silvers and 63 bronzes.