Thank you for allowing me to say a few words at a time of mourning in my country. And I would like to thank you all for your heartfelt condolences and solidarity with the UAE’s government and people over the passing of our late President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan last Friday. I would also like to thank the United States for holding this moment of silence under their Presidency to honor his life and work.
The UAE’s people and government lost a distinguished leader and a visionary man. Sheikh Khalifa devoted his life to his country and people and inspired his nation with his dedication, wisdom, and humility. He was a man of action who leaves behind an extraordinary legacy in his country, the wider region, and around the world.
He was a strong advocate for diplomacy, multilateralism, and mediation, and he made brave decisions that opened opportunities for peace in a region that has witnessed great turmoil. Sheikh Khalifa was also a true champion of the most vulnerable, ensuring that humanitarian aid and support were always extended to those most in need, regardless of their race, color, or creed. Under his guidance, the UAE further promoted our values of tolerance, empathy, and compassion globally.
At home, Sheikh Khalifa was a true force for change. During his tenure as President, a young country in its development journey sent its first astronaut to the International Space Station and an orbiter to the atmosphere of Mars and began exploring the possibilities of space. We hosted the first ever visit of the Pope to the Arabian Peninsula, welcomed over 24 million visitors from around the world to Expo 2020, and won the bid to host COP 28, and our domestic development journey continues to make enormous strides with leaps in artificial intelligence and innovation across fields as diverse as climate change, peaceful nuclear energy, and the empowerment of youth and women. Most significantly, and as part of his political empowerment program, the Federal National Council, our parliament, held its first elections in 2005, where today 50% of its representatives are women.
But perhaps more important than any of those achievements is that he was a truly kind man who cared deeply about other people. This has been evident from the outpouring of grief from the people of the UAE, but also in the tributes we’ve heard both from colleagues here in New York and from the stream of dignitaries who have come to pay their respects in Abu Dhabi. We are sincerely grateful for the kindness that others have shown to us as we mourn.
Sheikh Khalifa followed in the path of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who once said, “The leader has to bear in mind that…he has to perform his duties, shoulder his responsibilities, and make use of the God-given wealth for the people’s welfare, happiness, security and stability.” These words remain an inspiration for the UAE’s government and for the next generation of our people, under the leadership of elected President of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Thank you again for your expression of your support and your condolences, Madam President.