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2018: The Year of Zayed begins
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When the Cabinet met in a 500-year-old castle on Nov.30, 2014, it designated 2015 as the ‘Year of Innovation’, in a plan to make the UAE a world innovative leader. Subsequently, it went on to name 2016 as the ‘Year of Reading,’  2017 the ‘Year of Giving’ and now 2018 is the ‘Year of Zayed.’ The Gulf Today scans the impact and results behind this innovative naming.

When declaring the Year of Innovation, the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said it aimed at supporting federal government efforts to “attract national skills, increase distinguished research, as well as boost efforts to build a national cadre who are able to lead our future in this field towards more progress, prosperity and innovation.”


Innovation has since turned into cultural and a daily practice in the UAE. For the last two years, there has been a ‘UAE Innovation Week’ with over 1,200 creative events held across the country which, under the orders of the Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, will turn into an ‘Innovation Month’ starting from February, 2018.


The following year, 2016 was declared the ‘Year of Reading’ with the aim to “create a generation of book lovers and consolidate the UAE’s position as a global capital for culture and knowledge.”

The Cabinet instructed the competent authorities to start preparing a national framework that promotes reading among Emirati generations, in a quest to create a generation of book lovers and lifetime readers.

At the year end, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future and Chairman of the Higher Committee for the Year of Reading, Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi,  said that the “Year of Reading brought about a permanent change in the process of building the character of Emiratis and new generations.

Among the prominent achievements of the year of Reading were: the Arab Reading Challenge project that saw the participation of more than 3.5 million students from different schools in the Arab world who read more than 150 million books; and the launch of the National Reading Policy (2016–2026) that is based on the vision of making reading a daily habit in Emirati scoeity by 2026.

Others include the National Reading Law, which was the first of its kind in the country and region that introduced a legislative framework supporting the development of human capital and building knowledgeable communities in the UAE, and the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, organised by the emirate’s government, in addition to the mobile library initiative for distributing 1.5 million books for free in different parts of the UAE as part of the Knowledge Without Borders initiative.


The Year of Giving has been concluded with the UAE maintaining its ranking as the largest donor in the Official Development Aid (ODA) in 2016, according to the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The UAE posted the highest ODA to Gross National Income (GNI) ratio in 2016 at 1.21 per cent, with the country’s ODA accounting for Dhs15.57 billion ($4.24 billion); over 58 per cent of the aid was administered in the form of grants.

Norway came second with 1.12 per cent, Luxembourg ranked third with 1 per cent and Sweden came fourth with 0.94 per cent.


As the ‘Year of Zayed’ has set in to remember “all that Sheikh Zayed did to form the UAE of today” and to continue “instilling his values across the community,” the world awaits to see what the Emiratis and residents will do in the name of the Father of the Nation.

All UAE nationals would tell you that Sheikh Zayed’s values were marked by tolerance, progression, environmentalism, leadership and charity.

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