The UAE has a new theme and the government is asking us to look ahead to the next half a century.
From the ‘Year of Tolerance’ in 2019, the theme for the coming year and beyond is ‘2020: Towards the next 50′.
So, the nation gears up for 50 more years of greatness, we celebrate its storied past with this roundup of major milestones from the last 50 years.
words: Tamara Clarke
Discovery of oil
First discovered under an old pearling bed in the Persian Gulf, Umm Shaif and in the desert at Murban in 1960, the first cargo of crude oil was exported from Jebel Dhanna in Abu Dhabi in 1962 and commercial exportation of oil from Dubai commenced in 1969. Since its discovery, oil revenues have been used to fund the construction of schools, housing, hospitals roads and to improve the overall quality of life in the emirates.
The Union was Formed
On 2nd December 1971, six of the seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah) combined to form the United Arab Emirates. Ras al Khaimah later joined the federation on 10th February 1972.
• 19 May 1973: The UAE dirham launched
• 26 September 1973: First traffic light becomes operational in Abu Dhabi
• 31 January 1974: Direct telephone service between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is inaugurated with a phone call between Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid
Gained Regional Influence
At the start of the decade, the UAE met with five other countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, to form the Gulf Cooperation Council. The UAE continued championing regional initiatives throughout the decade and made strides to become a leader within the GCC.
• 7 July 1980: The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq and Iran agreed to establish the Regional Organisation to Protect the Marine Environment
• 2 January 1982: Abu Dhabi International Airport opens becoming the main passenger hub in the country
• 25 October 1985: Emirates Airline begins operation
out of Dubai
Established Global Presence
During this era, the UAE established a global presence taking part in international sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, asserting its position on world issues and seeing the dirham pegged against the US dollar.
• 20 May 1996: At a meeting of the Federal Supreme Council Abu Dhabi is officially named the nation’s capital
• 30 September 1999: The iconic Burj Al Arab is finished just in time for millennium celebrations
Emerged as a World Leader
The UAE has outpaced many and emerged as a world leader during the last decade. With record-breaking tourism, a stellar reputation and too many Guinness World Records to name, the UAE is primed for even greater success in 2020.
• 1 November 2004: Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi became the
first woman in government when appointed Minister of
Economy and Planning
• 4 November 2008: The Dubai Mall opens
• 4 January 2010: Dubai inaugurated Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper
• 25 September 2019: Hazza Al Mansouri became the first Emirati astronaut to visit the International Space Station
The next 50
The UAE has covered a lot of ground in its first 50 years with no signs
of slowing. The theme for 2020 comes at a turning point in the country’s history and lays the groundwork for celebrating its golden jubilee in 2021, also known as the 50th anniversary of the union.
The theme comes after HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the launch of the UAE Centennial Plan 2071 in 2019 — which marks a development plan for the UAE for the next 50 years after 2021. The plan aims to strengthen the country’s reputation and investment in future generations and here are the basic tenants of that plan:
• Invest in education with a focus on advanced technology
• Rely less on oil by diversifying exports and imports
• Enhance cohesion in societies
• Improve the productivity of the national economy
• Build on Emirati values for the benefit of future generations
We know the next 50 years and beyond are going to be more than great for the UAE and we can’t wait.