A bird’s-eye view of the Dubai skyline. Photo: Mo Ismail/ Pexels
It has been two years since humanity suffered a world-wide paralysis due to an invisible, fast-moving virus that struck suddenly and ruthlessly attacking the vital organs of nations, testing governments’ preparedness and people’s resilience alike. The instant devastation was palpable as the number of casualties rose and many souls were lost to this pandemic, but such is the human spirit, optimistic by nature and created with an innate urge for survival. We have somehow found a way to get back up, slow and a tad bit disoriented but with much more experience than we had before Coronavirus sucker-punched us to the ground.
The arduous process of recovery has been different for every nation owing to the foundations with which governments stood on prior to the pandemic. Countries that had ignored the internal infrastructure of society suffered the wrath of that neglect, and those that did not, still struggled to keep afloat relying on their own means, especially nations that did not depend on local industry. If the pandemic taught the world anything it is that globalization can cease to exist at any point and therefore self-sufficiency must be a goal all countries aspire to achieve.
The United Arab Emirates, like the rest of the world, was put to the test the moment the world stood still. A young nation barely 50 years old, home to over 200 different nationalities, it was suddenly burdened with securing its people’s safety and well-being as well as keeping the economy intact through the imminent storm. The UAE not only weathered this disaster, proving that its healthcare system is well organized, dependable and capable of catering to the massive number of infections it faced at the onset of the pandemic. It has also managed to instil in its residents and citizens a sense of security and a much-needed reassurance that the human comes first and indeed it delivered on its promise, for there was no shortage of any basic necessity observed during the worldwide lockdown.
The UAE is a vibrant example of how nations should navigate through crisis proving that it was not crippled by the pandemic but two years on it has become even better for it.
Two years later the economy is experiencing a major resurgence with Fitch Ratings affirming that the UAE is at an AA- with a stable outlook, which is a result of the government’s broad vision, put in place pre-pandemic, to diversify the country’s income, which allowed non-oil foreign trade to rise by 27% during the pandemic. Bloomberg’s recent Covid Resilience Ranking revealed that in 2021 the UAE has taken the first spot as the best place to be in during the worst pandemic the modern world has seen yet, dethroning European countries as the “most consistent performer.” The UAE, a place where Covid cases are low, deaths are rare and is one of the most vaccinated.
The UAE not only launched the Barakah nuclear power plant, the first nuclear power station in the Arabian Peninsula, and the first commercial nuclear power station in the Arab World, it also launched the Hope Mars probe as part of the Emirates Mars Mission, the first probe to provide a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere amidst the pandemic. Dubai, dubbed a ‘Pandemic Boomtown’ by The Wall Street Journal, is currently hosting the Expo 2020 which has so far seen more than 5 million visitors.
The country has also seen a shift in its political stance towards foreign policy, taking a clear and unabashed movement towards peace in the region that if successful will shift the geo-political plates and pave a path towards reconciliation and unity. The end of the war in Yemen was followed by the end of the rift between Qatar and the rest of the Gulf states forecasting a positive movement in the region. In the past couple of months, we have seen the UAE cautiously pursuing a pragmatic, ad hoc policy of negotiations and open channels of dialogue. The UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed visited Syria’s Bashar Al Assad for the first time in ten years since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. Another meeting a decade in the making was the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s visit to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan where the UAE set a series of investment accords totalling $10 billion to aid Turkey’s ailing economy. This month also saw a delegation from the UAE led by the country’s National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrive in Tehran received by Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi aiming to discuss regional developments.
The UAE just like the rest of the world was faced with a test, one whose scale could never have been forecast. But unlike the rest of the world, the UAE has shown that not only can it bravely face a conflict, but it can gracefully find a way to turn it into one accomplishment after another. It has proven that the only way forward is through evolution and adaptation; evolution of the mind, the spirit and the adaptation of ideologies and beliefs to suit an ever-changing world, all the while championing the pursuit of peace as a basic right that cannot be ignored especially in times of crisis. The UAE is a vibrant example of how nations should navigate through crisis proving that it was not crippled by the pandemic but two years on it has become even better for it.
The mirror that COVID-19 has forced us to look into is one that has no cracks, it reflects reality in its harshest form and unless we truly look, and come out the other side changed human beings, all this agony would have been for nothing
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Zakaria argues that the consequences of this pandemic may not change the future so much as it would accelerate it, and as a result, the world is now left to face pressing dilemmas that it previously had a number of decades, or at least a number of years, to thoroughly tackle.
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