Your Excellency Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations.

Your Excellency Mr. Sam Kutesa, President of the General Assembly.

Your Highnesses, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Good evening…

On behalf of my colleagues and honored guests from our country, welcome to the UAE Mission’s National Day Celebration.

Tomorrow, December 2nd, Emiratis across the world will be celebrating the day our nation came together in 1971. Our country is a young one – only 43 years old – and we are especially proud of the progress we have made in such a short time.

I am so pleased to see so many of my UN colleagues at this reception tonight – and also so many of our friends from other parts of this dynamic city.  Our relationship with New York goes beyond the UN – and for that reason, we chose to host our National Day event here in this historic and quintessentially New York location.  This is a very special library – over 100 years old with over 125 miles of books — and is a very special place for all of us New Yorkers.

Emiratis find that NYC feels a lot like home to us — the cosmopolitan diversity, entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to health, education and the arts… These are all reasons why it’s been easy for us to build cultural and social links that touch both Emirati and New Yorkers daily lives. For example:

  • In 2016, the Guggenheim will open its first location in the Middle East in Abu Dhabi.
  • This past May, NYU Abu Dhabi celebrated its first graduating class, and a few months ago we opened the campus, which was designed to combine elements of Greenwich Village and traditional Islamic architecture.
  • New York’s GlobalFoundries and Mubadala are partners in innovation, based just an hour from here.
  • We are physically connected as well – by 70-plus direct flights per week between the UAE and JFK.

These themes of innovation, development, health, education, and the arts resonate at the UN as well – and we continue to work with our partners in the UN and the wider diplomatic community on several issues that we believe to have global and generational significance.

As many of our colleagues are at the Climate Change Conference in Lima this week – I’d like to take this opportunity to commend Secretary General Ban’s efforts and in particular the close cooperation between our teams on the Abu Dhabi Ascent, which laid the foundations for the successful Climate Summit held this past September.  We believe a global climate change agreement must be reached in Paris next year.

It is our view that our energy, economic and environmental models should be built more sustainably and equitably, not just in our cities and in our region, but worldwide.  That’s why we are working with our partners at the UN and specifically with the President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

And of course, a critical piece of this will be achieving gender equality – in education, in the workplace, in decision-making and in the economy.  Our partnership with UN Women supports this goal, which is central to our national policies.

More than ever before, lessons and best practices for good governance have become a priority focus for many of us.  To that end, our Prime Minister, His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is convening a Summit in February to share ideas around how technology can help governments address core challenges such as trust, leadership, security and innovation.

We have also taken an active stand, along with many fellow member states, against extremists.  As these extremists seek to hijack the religion of Islam, the UAE will continue to be an example of moderation and tolerance in the Middle East and beyond.  For us, Islam is a religion that advocates peace and respect for others, and our demographics reflect that belief –hundreds of different nationalities live and work together every day in our country. 

We are confident that these principles will prevail… for our sakes and for the future well-being of our society… and rather than tell you about these guiding principles of moderation and tolerance, we wanted to give you a chance to see it through our eyes… I encourage you to take a walk through these hallways and experience Ruh al Itihad – Spirit of the Union. On display are a collection of photos from a number of Emirati artists, showcasing the advances our country has made, while preserving our culture and heritage.

I must take this opportunity to convey my sincere thanks to the curator of this photo exhibit, Ms. Aisha Stoby, my events team and the team of the New York Public Library for their close cooperation and support in preparing and hosting this event.

Before I conclude, I wanted to recognize someone in the audience who has been a tremendous humanitarian partner in our region, especially given the current crises… Valerie Amos.  Valerie, my Foreign Minister asked me personally to thank you for your efforts and your leadership at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – your impact and friendship to the UAE and our region has been significant and is sincerely appreciated. Thank you for spending this special evening with us.

On behalf of the UAE, I want to thank each and every one of you for coming here his evening to celebrate our National Day.  Please enjoy the exhibition and yourselves!