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At the outset, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the President of the General Assembly, Mr. Abdullah Shahid, for convening this session to pay tribute to the late President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. I also thank Secretary-General Guterres as well as all Member States and chairs of the regional groups for their heartfelt condolences. Your words demonstrate the deep ties between our countries, which His Highness played an outstanding role in strengthening.
The government and people of the United Arab Emirates are filled with sorrow and grief over the death of our leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on 13 May. My country and our fellow Arab and Islamic nations lost a leader who left an honorable legacy, characterized by his generosity and a dedication to serve his people and humanity.
Sheikh Khalifa was a wise leader and a symbol of peace. He was a role model for our generation with his humility and humanity. He had a long record of national and global achievement, which began even before he assumed the Presidency in 2004. As the leader of the country, he was keen to follow in the footsteps of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in building the country and a prosperous future for its people. He was a firm believer in the importance of investing in human development, supporting sustainable development, and encouraging innovation. He once said, and I quote: “Our hopes for our country have no limits, and our aspirations for our citizens are boundless.”
During Sheikh Khalifa’s rule, the UAE witnessed unprecedented achievements in a variety of fields. The Hope Probe, which was built by young Emiratis, reached Mars orbit. The UAE economy made significant progress. He also supported investments in science, technology, innovation, and renewable energy. Sheikh Khalifa also left his mark through his political empowerment program, including by convening the first Federal National Council elections in 2005, where today 50% of the representatives are women.
Under his leadership, UAE women have assumed leadership positions and are active partners in the domestic and international policymaking process. His Highness also believed in the capability and potential of youth. As such, he ensured that investment in their skills and talents were a key pillar across UAE policies.
Sheikh Khalifa was a true advocate for peace. He firmly believed in the principles of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. His initiatives in this regard included the first ever visit of the Pope to the Arabian Peninsula, which was followed by the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity.
His Highness was always keen to provide help to those affected by conflict and natural disasters around the world regardless of their race, color, or creed. This commitment can be seen through the relief and development assistance provided by the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, as well as the UAE’s provision of medical aid to more than 135 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic.
One the most prominent marks left by His Highness is a deep and extensive network of international partnerships. His Highness believed in the common destiny of humanity and the importance of multilateralism. He was keen to embed the principles of good neighborliness, mutual respect, and support for international law in the UAE’s foreign policy. His Highness also championed just humanitarian causes, and he made historic decisions that opened opportunities for peace in a region that has witnessed great turmoil. Sheikh Khalifa made repeated calls for the use of mediation, dialogue, and diplomacy to resolve disputes.
Sheikh Khalifa’s achievements will serve as a foundation for generations to build upon as we continue our journey under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and the leader who will guide the UAE on its ambitious journey of development and prosperity, with the support of the rulers of the Emirates.
In conclusion, Mr. President, I reiterate our sincere appreciation to all countries for their sympathy during this difficult time for the UAE. Your support demonstrates the love and respect that everyone held for His Highness, may he rest in peace.
Thank you, Mr. President.