By: Minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation
Peace be upon you all,
At the outset, I would like to congratulate you on your presidency of this session. I would also like to thank Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa, for her distinguished leadership of the previous session, which demonstrated the achievements that women can accomplish when they assume leadership positions.
I am also pleased to pay tribute to Mr. Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut to embark on a mission to the International Space Station. With this major step, the UAE is entering a new era in which it contributes alongside other countries in investing in space science and building a new generation in a world based on science, technology and enlightenment.
In conjunction with the UAE Year of Tolerance 2019, His Holiness Pope Francis and Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, signed in Abu Dhabi the Human Fraternity document, which is a historic message of peace aimed at promoting tolerance and coexistence.
Building safe communities requires will, practical initiatives, and concerted effort to address the tensions caused by extremism.
The UAE has participated in regional and international efforts aimed at easing tensions and reaching political solutions to the crises in the Middle East, including Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Palestine. Thus, the UAE believes that strengthening multilateralism is the most effective approach to de-escalate these crises and to address transnational challenges, including extremism and terrorism, to achieve international peace and security. However, multilateralism has not succeeded in resolving existing crises or preventing new ones. Therefore, in order to achieve the goals for which the United Nations was established, we must examine why international efforts were obstructed and explore ways of enhancing the effectiveness of these efforts.
Our collective efforts have achieved remarkable successes in facing the challenges of the 21st century, particularly in the area of sustainable development. Unfortunately, efforts to bring about regional and global stability have been stalled, particularly in our region. Today, we are witnessing violations of states, and a normalization of interference in their internal affairs. As conflicts continue and new crises emerge, we are witnessing a growing presence of extremist and terrorist groups. These groups have developed their capabilities with support from rogue states that aim to de-stabilize and impose hegemony on the region.
Terrorist groups such as Da’esh, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizbullah, Al-Qaeda, and the Houthis were able to gain access to the weapons and funding necessary for implementing their agendas, which have exacerbated existing crises.
The continuous terrorist attacks against the brotherly nation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the strikes targeting its civilian and vital infrastructure, most recently in the heinous attacks against Aramco facilities, have been widely condemned. These attacks not only threaten the security of Saudi Arabia and the region, but also affect the stability of the global economy.
In this context, we emphasize the need to restore reason, protect maritime navigation and energy supplies, and to find sustainable solutions based on respect for the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
Despite the efforts of the international community, we have to admit that multilateralism has not responded to the challenges that emerged in the past decades. The main reasons for that include the weak enforcement of international law and Security Council resolutions, and the disregard for the role played by regional states and organizations in supporting political solutions. Despite the existence of international mechanisms for maintaining peace and security, the inability to take a firm stance against the aggressive policies of some states has led to the obstruction of international efforts.
Even when there was international consensus on the need to take collective measures to maintain peace and security, such as the need to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions by signing the nuclear agreement with Iran, such agreement could not achieve the expected change in Iran’s behavior or compel Iran to abide by international law and the principle of good neighborliness. The nuclear agreement should have taken into consideration the views of the countries of this vital region who fully understand its history. The agreement should have also addressed all aspects of Iran’s behavior, including its interference in the internal affairs of states, its development of a ballistic missile program, and its provision of arms to terrorist groups. We are speaking here about a country that seeks to export its revolution.
We have an opportunity to achieve sustainable solutions that serve the interest of the region through the political initiative supported by the international community, by focusing on the following four areas:
First: Strengthening the implementation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. These are the core pillars of preventing the collapse of international order and preserving relations among states. To achieve this goal, we need to support the capacity of states to abide by their legal obligations, and we need to hold accountable those states that violate their obligations.
The primary call of the UAE will remain for states to respect their legal obligations and abide by the principle of good neighborliness. For 48 years, the UAE has never ceased in its demand for its sovereignty and legitimate right over the three islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa that are occupied by Iran in flagrant violation of international law and the UN Charter. Historical records clearly prove the UAE’s ownership of these islands and prove that they have been under Arab rule since ancient times.
Therefore, I reiterate once again from this podium the UAE’s firm position on this issue and its legitimate sovereign right over these islands. We will never abandon our demand that Iran must return these islands to their owners.
My country has called on Iran to peacefully resolve this issue through direct negotiations, or through the International Court of Justice. However, these calls have not been answered.
Second: Enabling regional organizations to play a greater role in addressing regional tensions and achieving security and stability. It must be emphasized here that regional organizations are best positioned to develop effective solutions to the issues of their member states. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s hosting this year of the summits of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the League of Arab States is a successful example of coordination of regional and international positions to address the critical security situation in the region.
We also encourage the United Nations to consult more effectively with these organizations when discussing regional issues. The role played by the African Union in supporting peacekeeping operations and mediation is a successful model that we welcome and encourage others to follow.
Third: Enhancing the effectiveness of political action to ease tensions and resolve crises in order to fulfill peoples’ legitimate aspirations. Achieving this goal requires building confidence among states and strengthening mediation efforts, including the efforts of United Nations envoys. For these efforts to succeed, relevant parties must work within a comprehensive, transparent, and cooperative framework.
Therefore, the United Arab Emirates places great importance on political efforts as the primary option for de-escalating and addressing crises. When my country joined the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, for example, we focused on restoring the role of the legitimate government of Yemen, rejecting the fait accompli that the rebels tried to impose, and supporting a political process that could lead to stability and peace. Despite the violations of the Houthis, my country will continue its efforts to achieve peace.
Similarly, my country believes that a political path is the best option to address regional issues. In this regard, we express our appreciation for the efforts made by the United Nations, the international community, and friendly states. We particularly welcome the role of the Secretary-General in supporting the political track of the Question of the Moroccan Sahara, and we commend the tireless efforts made by the Kingdom of Morocco to find a political solution for this issue.
The chaos that enveloped the Arab world during the past decade has made us even more committed to finding political solutions and more appreciative of the importance of the stability of states and the security of the people.
The Palestinian cause will remain the central issue of the Arab world. Stability cannot be established in our region without reaching a just, lasting, and comprehensive solution that enables the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. The violations committed by the occupying power against the Palestinians, including the creation of new “facts on the ground” in Jerusalem, will enable extremist groups to exploit the suffering of the Palestinian people.
Finally, focusing on development and investment to achieve prosperity. The starting point should be to rebuild post-conflict countries, to support their national institutions, and to strengthen the rule of law in these countries. More broadly, we need to spread the values of tolerance and pluralism, and address the roots of extremism. We also need to ensure that women and youth are contributing to these efforts, because their efforts will guarantee a brighter future for all.
We must not forget the suffering of millions of people around the world from wars and natural disasters. Alleviating the severe impact of these disasters requires intensified humanitarian efforts. In this regard, my country continues to spread its message of peace by assisting affected peoples, regardless of their race or religion. In addition, the UAE intensified its humanitarian and development assistance in response to the worsening crisis affecting the Yemeni people caused by the Houthis’ obstruction of access to assistance, and even their theft of assistance to finance their criminal acts.
We have long awaited stability in our region. But with hard work and unified global efforts, we will be able to achieve stability in the region. We believe that the coming years will be the beginning of a new era for our region, an era in which our region will become a global economic and cultural center where technology, science, renewable energy, and artificial intelligence will thrive. By hosting Expo 2020 and launching outer space projects, we seek to create a new environment for youth, in which they can aspire to a brighter future with open minds.
We, as individuals, governments, and peoples, have a choice: To either start the new decade by protecting the future of our region and the world, or we leave our world to terrorist groups and destructive extremist ideologies. We will continue to fight the latter with all our ability.
Thank you, Mr. President,
By: Minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation
The UAE has called for a zero-tolerance policy on all parties who fund and support terrorism and extremism.
This came during a speech delivered by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, at the 72nd session of the UN General assembly in New York on Friday.
During his speech, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed emphasised that the UAE's foreign policy is guided by principles consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and international law: a spirit of partnership, support for the rule of law, good-neighbourliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. "These principles lead us to support a stronger role for the United Nations, and its reform so that it can fulfil its mandate to maintain international peace and security and to bring about development and prosperity," he added.
"The United Arab Emirates works hard and responsibly, both within its neighbourhood and beyond it, to promote the stability and development of Arab countries and tackle the destruction which our region’s wars have left in their wake. We see security and stability as the key to the advancement of nations and peoples, a promising future for younger generations, and a decent life for all. Our collective priority must be to promote peace and stability.
Despite serious regional and international efforts, our region continues to suffer from crises. These have several causes: extremism and terrorism; continued interference by states in each other’s internal affairs; aggressive and expansionist policies driven by hegemonic ambitions; and regimes which seek influence by providing support to extremist and terrorist groups to undermine legitimate governments and spread chaos and conflict throughout the region and the world. These crises have killed many, displaced millions and destroyed infrastructure. If this situation persists, it will only generate more violence, destruction and depletion of economic, cultural and human resources not only in our region but throughout the world," His Highness continued.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said that as an international community, progress had been made in confronting security and humanitarian threats; however, more can be done to restore stability in the Arab world.
His Highness went on to explain what the UAE believes are initial steps that need to be undertaken to restore stability in the region, referring particularly to Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, where he said that it is necessary to "protect the development progress that has been made, and prevent any party from obstructing or wrecking collective efforts at peacebuilding. Otherwise, we will be reduced to managing these conflicts instead of being able to solve them."
"In those countries, comprehensive political solutions can be achieved. Stability can be restored. But this will only be possible if we put a stop to outside interference in Arab affairs, and prevent any form of support from being given to extremist and terrorist groups. In this regard, we support the efforts of the United Nations to bring warring parties to the negotiating table and achieve comprehensive political solutions for the crises in our region," he added.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation then went on to say that it is necessary to unite in a firm and sincere rejection of extremism and terrorism in all its manifestations, adding that there is no other way to "confront and eradicate this scourge".
His Highness referred to the historic Riyadh Summit and its outcomes that demonstrated the Arab and Islamic world stands firmly against terrorism and its ideological roots.
"We believe that the elimination of this threat from our Arab region is within our reach. The liberation of ancient Arab cities with a rich history, such as Mosul in Iraq and Mukalla in Yemen from the grip of terrorist organisations is proof of this. It shows what can be achieved when we work together to combat extremism and terrorism," he continued.
In the third policy recommendation, Sheikh Abdullah said that collective action must be undertaken to identify countries that support and finance terrorism and hold them accountable. "This is why the UAE has taken measures in tandem with its close allies the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Arab Republic of Egypt, aimed at stopping Qatar’s support for extremism and terrorism, and forcing it to abandon policies which have destabilized our region".
"We are committed to protecting our national interests, the security of the Arabian Gulf, and the stability of our region. Some parties in our region are making alliances with organizations that seek to undermine peace and security in the Arab region and the world. This is a gamble that they will lose. It is behavior that we should not accept. Let us stand united against those who finance, promote and justify extremism and terrorism.
"We have a clear choice with no alternative: to stand against terrorism in all its manifestations and to stand against all perpetrators without exception. We must demonstrate zero tolerance to those who spread violence, fear and destruction among innocent people, and those who provide support and safe haven to terrorist groups. The sovereign measures taken by my country in cooperation with its close allies serve this purpose. They are consistent with international law and are intended to protect Arab national security and counter Qatar’s support for terrorism," Sheikh Abdullah reiterated.
In his fourth recommendation, Sheikh Abdullah advised the promotion of compassion, tolerance and inclusion, adding, "Today more than ever, the Arab region is in great need of these values to counter the misleading messages and ideologies spread by extremist and terrorist groups, especially through social media platforms." He went on to highlight the UAE's partnerships with regional and international partners that have put in place mechanisms "which remind our youth of our shared human values and counter the rhetoric of the terrorists." These partnerships include the formation of the 'Sawab Centre', the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, 'Hedayah', and the 'Muslim Council of Elders' which aims to demonstrate the peaceful nature of our Islamic religion, and the 'Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies' which consolidates the principle of peace among Muslims.
"While these institutions promote a culture of peaceful coexistence and tolerance, we regret that some countries fund media platforms which call for violence, incite hatred and sectarianism and provide a podium for the murderous ideology of terrorism. History has repeatedly proven the catastrophic consequences that follow when media platforms incite people to commit violence and justify it.
"Our international efforts to achieve peace in the region will not be successful without ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian and Arab territories which has lasted over seven decades. This situation makes young people vulnerable to exploitation by terrorist groups who claim that they are the only choice through which they can achieve their aspirations," he reiterated.
Sheikh Abdullah highlighted, "The common factor in all crises suffered in the region and the real obstacle to any concrete progress in resolving these crises remains the hostile and expansionist policy of Iran in the region. That policy is one of interference in the internal affairs of other states, and of arming and supporting terrorist groups, such as the Houthis and Hezbollah, as well as terrorist groups and cells in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Kuwait.
"Iran has not only committed blatant violations of the principles of sovereignty but also continues to exploit the crises in the Arab world to undermine regional security by inciting and fueling conflict. Iran must realise that peaceful co-existence based on respect for sovereignty in the region is the best basis for a harmonious relationship with the states of the Arabian Gulf," he emphasized.
During his statement, Sheikh Abdullah also reaffirmed the UAE's firm position and its legitimate right to sovereignty over its three islands, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, which are occupied by Iran in violation of the provisions of International Law and the Charter of the United Nations. "We will not abandon our demand for Iran to return the occupied islands to their rightful owners, either voluntarily or through the peaceful means that are available for the resolution of international disputes, particularly through the International Court of Justice," he explained.
Speaking on Iran's nuclear agreement, His Highness said that two years have passed "with no sign of change in its hostile behaviour in the region or any desire to abandon its nuclear ambitions," adding that "Instead, Iran continues to develop and conduct more ballistic missile tests in a deliberate violation of the spirit of the nuclear agreement. Therefore, we support enhancing controls on Iran’s nuclear programme and continued assessment of the agreement and its provisions".
Addressing developments in the Korean Peninsula, Sheikh Abdullah said that the UAE views the similarly provocative behaviour of North Korea, through its continued development of its nuclear programme and ballistic missiles, as a part of the destructive efforts of these states to pursue their nuclear ambitions and threaten global security and stability. "The aggressive policies of Iran and North Korea are inconsistent with their membership in an international organisation whose primary concern is the maintenance of international peace and security," he maintained.
Speaking on the restoration of security and stability in the region, Sheikh Abdullah said, "If we are to restore security in the region and protect its peoples from conflicts and extremism, then we must make development, in both its human and strategic dimensions, our top priority. We must create opportunities and hope for young generations looking to a tomorrow with optimism and confidence. Therefore, my country is committed to achieving economic and human progress, and to contribute to rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in conflict-affected countries, to enable their national institutions to undertake their role in restoring security and stability".
"The UAE continues its humanitarian approach to alleviate the suffering of refugees. It supports international and regional efforts to protect them and improve their conditions by providing humanitarian and development assistance. However, the UAE stresses that managing crises by providing only humanitarian and development assistance is not a sustainable solution if we do not address the root causes of such crises.
"In this regard, we reiterate the need for the United Nations to assume its responsibilities in finding solutions to humanitarian and political crises and addressing their grave implications, especially with regard to the recent violence and ethnic cleansing committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar. The United Arab Emirates condemns the acts of violence, and displacement and collective punishment, committed against the Rohingya and affirms that it will continue to provide humanitarian assistance and support efforts taken to reduce their suffering," he noted.
His Highness then referred to the obstinate rejection by the Houthi rebels in Yemen of a political settlement to the Yemeni crisis and of humanitarian initiatives there. "We see this clearly in their disruption and delay of numerous relief efforts and initiatives aimed at responding effectively to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen. Despite this, we will continue to work determinedly through the Arab coalition under the wise leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the political and humanitarian processes with the utmost vigour and determination. We will strive to address the humanitarian and development needs of the Yemeni people, especially women and children, and restore stability," he confirmed.
His Highness then went on to speak of the UAE's belief that it is by looking to the future, promoting humanitarian values and human development, and responding to the aspirations of young people that peoples and nations can best advance their development and prosperity.
"Today, my country has moved beyond the establishment of infrastructure and fulfilment of basic needs, including the provision of health, nutrition and education services, and adopted a model which is based on the principles of good governance and values of tolerance according to a vision for building happy societies." By ensuring the provision of a safe environment to enable women and youth to fulfil their dreams and ambitions, and engage in the development of their country, this has allowed the UAE to pioneer innovations and ground-breaking achievements, and to become a beacon of hope for the younger generation throughout the region, Sheikh Abdullah explained.
"The UAE is cognizant that its greatest challenge is to make its development sustainable and prepare itself for the post-oil era. This is a vital endeavour, and it is our goal in every action that we undertake. The UAE considers these values and principles a human and historical legacy passed on and celebrated by generations. Therefore, we have declared 2018 to be the 'Year of Zayed' in memory and recognition of the achievements of the founding father of the United Arab Emirates, and to enshrine his values as we continue his journey to build and advance the nation," he elaborated.
In his concluding remarks, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said, "We stand at a historic juncture. On the one hand, those who pursue peace, development, modernity and the future. On the other, those who choose darkness, destruction, sabotage and chaos. In this most necessary and just confrontation, we must stand united. Our goal must be the eradication of extremism and terrorism and the elimination of those forces that are tearing our Arab region apart. Our path will then be clear, towards a future that is brighter and full of hope".
By: Minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, expressed his hope that efforts being made by Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt regarding Astana and Geneva negotiations on the Syrian crisis would yield fruits.
''To return to the previous situation in Syria, we need a two-pronged solution: a political one, and the other calls for exiting of parties that seek to undermine the sovereignty and prestige of the Syrian state and here I am speaking frankly and clearly about Iran and Turkey,'' H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said during a joint press conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.
''If Iran and Turkey continued to pursue the same policy and the historic, colonial or rivalry perspective towards Arab issues, such a situation would continue whether in Syria or other countries,'' he said.
He stated that UAE-Russia ties were evolving steadily with two-way trade exchange reaching US$2.1 billion last year.
''We expect bilateral co-operation to further expand driven by more tourists coming to the UAE. Last year, we welcomed 350,000 Russian visitors. The UAE is currently hosting 16,000 Russian residents,'' he added.
He told reporters that talks between His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Lavrov were important and provided an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations as well as a wide range of regional and international issues of common concern.
''The meeting offered an ideal opportunity to explore the possibilities of enhancing joint co-operation in political, economic, military, security and cultural spheres as well as the latest developments in Yemen, Syria and Libya,'' he said.
In a reply to a question about North Korea, he said, the UAE affirms the importance of returning to negotiations between North Korea and neighbouring states. This escalating situation between North Korea on one side and Japan and South Korea on the other side should not continue as the former continues to violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.
''It is impossible to have a non-nuclear proliferation policy in a region and a different policy in another region,'' he noted, emphasising that he agrees with Lavrov about the need for a peaceful solution to the issue without compromising the sovereignty of any state.
Speaking about the Syrian crisis, the UAE minister termed the Riyadh meetings with the attendance of delegates from Cairo and Moscow as ''important'' and commended efforts made by the countries to convince these delegates to positively participate. However, he said that ''co-ordination of stances needs more time''.
''The call made by the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, for the Syrian opposition factions to unify their ranks is part of the success of the Astana and Geneva tracks. We ask them all to advance towards this path,'' he said.
He called for further steps in co-ordination with efforts to confront terror organisations including Daesh and the Al-Nusra Front and to draw lessons from the success of de-escalation zones in Syria.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted the steady progress towards elevation of UAE-Russia ties into a strategic partnership "We have discussed several key points of the bilateral agenda within the context of the joint understanding that we reached during the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Moscow last April. We underlined that firm progress had been made with regards to expanding bilateral ties into a strategic partnership. We value the commitment of our fellows in the UAE to continue joint work.'' ''We have new avenues for joint co-operation as parliamentary relations are growing. Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of the Federal National Council, will represent the UAE at the 137th IPU Assembly and related events in St. Petersburg, Russia, next October,'' he added.
He said trade, economic and investment relations have been developing well thanks to the UAE-Russia committee. ''Further steps have been taken to support companies to expand trade exchange and increase investment and co-operation in areas of energy, industry and banking," he said.
Expressing his satisfaction at the increasing number of Russian tourists to the UAE, he said, ''Russian residents have valued the care and attention they receive during their stay in the UAE.'' The Russian foreign minister affirmed that Russia and the UAE have identical positions in fighting terrorism vehemently and the need to suppress extremist and terrorist ideologies. He further informed that the UAE and Russian talks took stock of the latest developments in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq, in addition to finding a settlement to the Palestinian cause.
''The UAE and Russia maintain close approaches towards all these files and the two countries are keen to boost joint co-ordination towards all these issues,'' he stressed.
Answering a question about Syria, the Russian minister noted the keenness to fully implement the UNSC Resolution 2254, which sets out a clear roadmap for a political settlement of the crisis along with the need to combat all terrorists who are entrenched in Syrian territories as well as those who have come to Syria from other countries.
The Syrian opposition is required to act realistically and stay away from the rhetoric of threatening to implement the resolution, he affirmed.
"The fate of Syria will be decided by the Syrians themselves. There should be no pre-conditions and both the government and the opposition should sit on the negotiating table to discuss the future of Syria," he stated.
On North Korea's nuclear missile programme, the Russian top diplomat said, "We are committed to all UNSC resolutions and we insist that North Korea and its neighboring states fully respect them''.
By: Minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation
The UAE and the Republic of Italy yesterday held the second strategic dialogue between the two countries during an official visit of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The UAE side was headed by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, and the Italian delegation was led by Angelino Alfano, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in the presence of Saqr Nasser Al Raisi, UAE Ambassador to Italy, and a number of Italian business people.
The dialogue discussed cooperative relations between the two countries across consular, education, cultural, economic, aviation, and a number of other fields. It also touched on the developments in the region, notably Libya, Syria and Yemen, in addition to stressing the importance of combating terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestation.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah and Minister Alfano also signed a MoU to establish a consular committee between the two countries, followed by a press conference.
Sheikh Abdullah stressed the importance of this visit, which comes in the context of bilateral cooperation between the two countries and joint coordination on a number of issues and developments on the regional and international arenas.
"There have been constructive discussions involving the dimensions of the friendly relations between the two countries, as well as exchanging view points on a number of important issues in the Middle East, and our extensive bilateral relationship," Sheikh Abdullah said.
He also expressed his happiness at the opening of the new State Embassy headquarters in Rome, in the presence of the Italian Foreign Minister, in addition to the signing of the MoU, stressing that the UAE has a long-standing historical relationship with Italy based on the principle of mutual trust.
Sheikh Abdullah highlighted that the two countries exerted significant efforts to strengthen their economic and trade relations. The volume of non-oil trade between the two countries reached US$8.2 billion in 2016, making the UAE the most important market for Italian exports in the Gulf region.
He added that cooperation in the field of air transport between the two countries contributed to the support of trade relations, pointing out that UAE airlines provide ten daily flights for passengers between the two nations.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation praised Italy's continued role in strengthening relations between the two states, as the number of Italian visitors to the country rose in 2016 to more than 230,000, while more than 12,000 Italians reside in the UAE.
Alfano confirmed the depth of their mutual relations, which exceeded the stage of political ties to enter in other areas such as culture. He also expressed his happiness with the opening of the Italian school in the UAE.
The Italian Minister affirmed his country's support for the Expo 2020 Dubai and the continuous coordination between the two teams to benefit from the experience of Expo 2015 Milan.
By: Minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chairman of the Education and Human Resources Council, on Thursday, attended the official launch of the community schools projects, an initiative of the Council carried out by the Ministry of Education to use school infrastructure for serving surrounding communities through activities held after class hours.
"Cohesion of the society and families in the UAE is firmly established among Emirati people. This is evidenced by the large number of volunteer individuals and bodies providing effort, time and resources to contribute towards the success of UAE government initiatives launched inside and outside the country. This makes us proud of the sense of responsibility of giving without waiting for rewards, with the sole goal being to promote development," he said in remarks during the launch ceremony.
Community schools, Sheikh Abdullah added, makes students and parents happier because they can encourage them to unleash their potential and creativity while strengthening family and social bonds.
The community schools project was planned to enable schools to meet labour market demands through transforming schools from a purely academic environment into an attractive setting for students and families, and providing education and knowledge about practical life. Through entertainment activities, the project further helps bolster family and societal bonds, while capitalising on resources offered by government departments.
Najla bint Mohammed Al Awar, Minister of Community Development, said the project was carried out following the recommendations of the Education and Human Resources Council.
The project, she added, allows parents to contribute to building their children's skills and support their innovation and creativity.
Community schools also allow families to spend more time together in a safe atmosphere and helps bolster positive relations and interaction between residents of involved areas.
Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, described the project as an exceptional initiative that transforms schools into an ideal place for achieving goals of the society and serve both children and parents.
By: Minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and Chairman of the Education and Human Resources Council, has called on UAE schools to contribute to achieving the UAE’s national agenda and making it their priority, and raising the awareness of students and parents about its importance.
He also called on them to invest in raising the skills of students and teachers and to draft plans and initiatives to achieve the national agenda and its goals.
In his speech, during a ceremony organised by the Education and Human Resources Council to honour 30 exceptional schools that obtained outstanding results in international examinations in 2015 at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Dubai, he said, "I am delighted to be with a leading group of students today. Due to your efforts and those of your peers, the educational process is progressively achieving the goals of the community, which highlights the importance of today’s initiative to honour leading schools in international examinations.
He added that the council has honoured 30 schools that obtained exceptional results in TIMSS and PISA examinations, proving the presence of exceptional educational models in the UAE, while noting that the honouring ceremony promotes the role of schools in achieving the national agenda’s goals, as drafted by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, praised the honoured schools for their clear excellence, highlighting that this excellence is in line with the nation’s ambitions.
He stressed that the Education and Human Resources Council, led by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah, has made education its priority and is seeking to achieve best educational practices. He highlighted that the honouring ceremony will motivate the country’s schools to move forward to enhance their performance and produce greater competitiveness, by achieving high-quality educational outcomes. This will achieve the vision and aspirations of the UAE’s wise leadership, with regards to the national agenda’s indicators, to be among the world’s top 20 countries in international examinations by 2021.
Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education, stated that more than 140 schools in the UAE have achieved higher than the international average in the TIMSS Grade 4 exam, and more than 130 schools achieved higher than the international average in the TIMSS Grade 8 exam. In addition, more than 50 schools achieved higher than the international average in PISA studies, and more than 60 schools achieved a 550 point or above score in TIMSS studies for Grades 4 and 8, while more than 20 schools achieved the same grade in PISA studies.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a set of standardised tests designed and delivered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to measure student’s performance at the age of 15.
The Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) is an international survey that monitors the maths and science achievement of year 5 (pupils aged 9-10) and year 9 (pupils aged 13-14) pupils world-wide.