There is ample evidence of a strategically-important, thriving, resource-rich and diverse civilization, evidenced in archaeological excavations dating back thousands of years. Man first appears in what is now the Emirate of Abu Dhabi more than 7500 years ago.
Archaeological discoveries have shown that the first inhabitants of the Emirate arrived in the first Stone Age, and there is evidence of mass graves dating back to 3000-2500 B.C. on the slopes of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain.
Over time, the Emirate saw the emergence of iron production and the start of the use of the Arabic alphabet, as well as evidence of a close relationship with the Assyrian and Persian empires.
During the Bronze Age, Abu Dhabi established trade relations with Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and the Indus Valley. Two years before the death of the Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him), in 630, a delegation from Medina came to this region to lead the call to Islam, in the area where the Bani Yas tribe lived in Liwa, who then migrated, under the leadership of Sheikh Al Bu Falah (Al Nahyan), to Abu Dhabi in order to dive for pearls.
The modern history of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi starts in the early seventeenth century, when the Bani Yas tribe settled in the Dhafra area. They controlled the areas stretching from Sabkha Matti in the north to the Empty Quarter in the south. In 1761 water was discovered on the Island of Abu Dhabi, and some members of the Bani Yas Tribe lived there by fishing and pearl diving. Maleeh flourished to became the first coastal settlement of the Bani Yas, and Sheikh Shakhboot bin Dhiab bin Issa Al Nahyan took the Island of Abu Dhabi as his permanent home. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi continued to prosper economically throughout the nineteenth century until the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, thanks to the abundance of pearls, but the prosperity of the pearl industry declined at the onset of the First World War, and suffered setbacks due to the global economic recession in late twenties and early thirties of the twentieth century. The invention by the Japanese of pearl culturing dealt the final blow to the industry, hitting Abu Dhabi severely.
In those times, life in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi was one of epic heroism, courage and patience in the face of the desert's cruelty and the scarcity of water. The old residents of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Liwa oases, and Al Dhafra, worked in camel herding, harvesting dates, fishing and pearl diving, and moved to where there was water and pasturelands.
One of the sons born to the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Sultan Al Nahyan, was Sheikh Zayed (may God rest his soul), who was named after his grandfather, and who showed, from a young age, great interest in acquiring knowledge, understanding the mysteries of the desert and the sea, and how people relate to their environment and are affected by it. When he became a Representative of the Governor in Al Ain, at the age of only 28, he administered the affairs of Al Ain, six surrounding villages, and some villages in neighboring areas. During that period, he gained intimate knowledge of the affairs of government and the tribes, and put the plans in place that made Al Ain a model society in the field of agriculture, the provision of water resources, education, and other fields.
In 1968, the British announced their intention to withdraw from the area within three years. When the idea of independence came to the fore, Sheikh Zayed (may God rest his soul) hastened to invite the rulers of the other emirates to form a strong federation, a vision that materialized on December 2, 1971, the birth date of the United Arab Emirates.
The search for oil began in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the 1930s. Oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi for the first time in 1958, and the first shipment of it was exported in 1962 from the Umm Shiff field, making Abu Dhabi the first oil-exporting Emirate. It was a quantum leap, as the region's economy had depended on pearls before oil. Sheikh Zayed (may God rest his soul) employed oil revenues well, using them to increase the welfare of his people with respect to education and the development of infrastructure. His reign, which lasted for 33 years, witnessed an unprecedented development, through which Abu Dhabi was transformed from a semi-nomadic society to the home of one of the most important, vital and highly advanced economic hubs in the world.
Abu Dhabi over a Half Century stresses, using statistical data and figures that Abu Dhabi Emirate witnessed the most unique experience worldwide with regard to quick as well as balanced growth and development, with the reins of power in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, ushering in a rarely matched boom in all walks of life. A look at Abu Dhabi today reveals a place of magnificent beauty, developed infrastructure, quality services and remarkable development in the various aspects of discussed in this book, which spans five decades of prosperity, development and progress, visible in the diverse accomplishments that have encompassed all aspects of life in the Emirate and have come about as a direct result of the wise planning that chalked out the guidelines for the period under review.
The book documents to a large extent, presenting statistical facts and figures, the achivement of Sheikh Zayed (may God rest his soul) who became the Ruler of Abu Dhabi on the sixth of August 1966. He assumed the reins of power in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, ushering in a rarely matched boom in all walks of life. Thanks to his wise management of the abundant natural resources in the country, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is now among the world's leading nations in terms of economic prowess and living standards of the citizens.
Comprehensive development has continued under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. With a strong political commitment to success and advancement in all ways, and through a clear vision for development and ambitious planning, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi continues to advance from strength to strength, pioneering a new model of development in the Arab world and the Middle East in general, where it is seen as one of the dynamic and fastest growing economies.
A pioneering experience coupled with continuing efforts
The book is forwarded by a message from H.E. Nasser Ahmed Al Suwaidi,the Chairman of the Board of Statistica Centre - Abu Dhabi, in which he mentioned that proud to work under the supervision of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the directives of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Chairman of the Executive Council, is also well aware of the magnitude of its responsibilities, and is determined to fully meet them, as a trusted and reliable institution on which all decision-makers depend for planning, policymaking and action.
He also mentioned that the book presents SCAD's attempt to provide a new resource for writing the history of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in order to serve as a reliable source for historians, academics, researchers and all those interested in the history of development in the Emirate to uncover a wealth of important data that was not available before.
His Excellency concluded by asserting that Abu Dhabi over a Half Century .. Facts and Figures is an important statistical document on the achievements of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the past five decades, the fruit of the clear vision and wise management of its senior leadership and a synopsis of the progress arising from it, and serves as example and proof of what this leadership has achieved and still offers to achieve in building this nation and developing its people in all the various spheres of life.
The book also included a message form Butti Ahmed Mohamed Butti Al Qubaisi, the Director General of Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi, in which he referred to the fact that The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has witnessed over the past five decades major transformations and undergone pioneering achievements unparalleled in the history of human civilization. Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi is proud to document the development of the Emirate over the years, providing statistics, graphs, and real images that add a new dimension to reading the history of its development and paint a clear picture of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi's progress.
He also confirmned that Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi traces the historical stages of development and growth over half a century of achievement that transformed the Emirate of Abu Dhabi from a desert into a nation in the forefront of economic and social development, setting one of the best examples in comprehensive, rapid and balanced development. In five decades, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has changed from somewhere that lacked the most basic necessities of life into one of the most developed areas in the world. Studying these figures, Al Qubaisi elaborated, anyone will realize from the outset that these great achievements have not come about by chance; nor are they the spontaneous outcome of natural wealth. It is rather the product of clear thought and insight characterizing the unique personal leadership of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God rest his soul. It is through his wise planning and solid strategy that Abu Dhabi has made its way successfully, relying on its people, investing in science and learning, and depending on the individual first and foremost in the overall development process.
Progress has continued at an accelerated pace under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi - may God protect him - as well as under the meticulous and wise direction of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
In concusion, H.E. mentioned the major development boom in Abu Dhabi during the past years - the general features of which are outlined in this book - is only a prelude to further growth expected in the Emirate in the coming years, the product of a sound development strategy and the prudent fiscal policies pursued by Abu Dhabi.
50 Years of Achievements
In the introduction, the book briefly mentions a brief statistical overview about the key achievements of the overall development process taking place in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, indicating that during the last four decades the GDP of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi at current prices increased 190 times, from Dhs3.267bn in 1970 to Dhs620.316bn in 201, and that GDP per capita at current prices increased from Dhs49 thousand in 1970 to Dhs315.3 thousand in 2010.
The overview shed light on the fact that the volume of fixed investments in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has increased 314 times, during the last 40 years, while the volume of the foreign trade of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi at current prices increased 4723 times, from Dhs82m in 1962 to Dhs387.282bn in 2010. With regard to this issue the book indicates that through the history og Abu Dhabi Emirate it has never suffered from Budget deficit. Contrarily, in the past five decades (1962 - 2010), the Emirate of Abu Dhabi achieved a cumulative trade surplus of approximately Dhs2.366 trillion at current prices.
In the introduction, the book stated that the number of females in the national Labour force has doubled more than 4 times during the last four decades and that the illiteracy rate among female nationals retreated from 97.41% in 1968 to only 8.77% in 2010 while the same rate has fallen among the population of nationals from 90.13% in 1968 to only 6.13% in 2010.
In the field of health services, the overview stated that the number of doctors in government hospitals reached 2,026 in 2010, compared with 73 in 1970, whereas the crude mortality rate (per 1000 population) declined from 4.5 in 1975 to only 1.5 in 2010. In contrast, Average life expectancy at birth for nationals increased from only 49.3 years in 1970 to 76.2 years in 2010.
The indicated numbers match the levels of services provided in advanced countries and reflect the prominent positions which the Emirate occupy at the international level with regard to the efforts it exert to provide a decent standard of living for its citizens.
Abu Dhabi over a Half Century dedicated major sections to tract the economic development of Abu Dhabi Emirate during the past four decades, as the Emirate's economy has flourished immensely having the a stronger momentum, the most diversified base as well as being the more effective and sustainable.The Emirate's GDP at current prices increased 190 times, from Dhs3.267bn in 1970 to Dhs620.316bn in 2010.
Development and economic reform in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has been of crucial concern to the political leadership aiming to achieve progress and development and to catch-up with the advanced world. As a result of this concern, development in the Emirate has advanced immensely, and the national economy has developed to global comparability, being competitive with various economies regionally and globally. The local economy has achieved a leading position in all performance indicators, as well as a highly unique investment environment, the result of the wise policies of the senior leadership, which has contributed to creating an attractive environment for global investments, and is capable of attracting companies of all kinds from various parts of the world.
Over the past years, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has continuously contributed around 60% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates, while its population constitutes only 34% of the total UAE population according to the 2005 census. Given the strong political commitment to success and the economic advancement in all directions, the wise economic policies and due to the business environment, the financial surpluses, the advanced infrastructure, and the political stability and security the emirate enjoys, the economy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has come to occupy a unique position and expanding space in the region. This is especially so given the strategic transformations and major reforms in the economy, beginning with the restructuring of local government and limiting its role in the economy to economic policies aiming to diversify sources of income. The emirate is moving steadily towards the future to bring about a radical transformation in the structure of local economy.
Diversifying the Economic Base
In light of the extensive efforts excreted by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in its development and in various aspects of the economy, non-oil sectors have emerged as an important part of the process of economic development and have played an important role in the structure of GDP. The contribution of the non-oil sectors to GDP at current prices has increased 278 times over the past five decades, rising from Dhs1.125bn in 1970 to Dhs312.295bn in 2010. Today these sectors constitute half of GDP.
Any reading of the economy of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi will confirm that it has made significant strides and has achieved a high degree of development and diversity in a short period and that it is moving from strength to strength under a wise leadership that benefits from past experience in its endeavour to achieve the best utilization of available opportunities.This is reflected in the economic progress of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi over the past years, within a context of initiating major projects that include practical vision and an accurate reading of prospects which, in turn, draw the national economy to the attention of investors from various parts of the world. The Abu Dhabi economy has strongly progressed in recent years towards the establishment of a firm basis for itself founded on economic diversity and comprehensive development. It has become the most dynamic economy in the region and the third biggest economy in the Arab world. Breaking through from an economy depending, for most of its activities, on public sector spending, which is directly affected by fluctuating oil revenue, to a diversified local economy that has become a financial, commercial and tourist centre in the region.
Parallel to this, the private sector has achieved similar success, and has numerous competitive advantages in the fields of production and exports, which will allow it to play a more effective future role in facing up to economic uncertainties, both regionally and internationally. Thus, there is concern to support the private sector in the economic diversification process through continuing to create the right investment climate to strengthen the role of the private sector in the economic development process. There is also increasing interest in privatization programmes for government and public sector companies, which contributes to expanding the capacity and lightening the administrative and financial burdens on government entities, achieving optimal utilization of capabilities and financial resources.
The economic performance, over the past years, tells the story of the success of Abu Dhabi in harnessing natural resources to serve the sustainable development to ensure that citizens enjoy one of the highest living standards in the world, doubling per capita GDP at current prices more than seven folds during the last four decades. This rate rose from Dhs41.4bn in 1970 to Dhs315.3bn in 2010. However, the economic success story is just one of the chapters of the decent living it offers to citizens and expatriate, a welfare that was not possible without the progress that has been achieved in other areas of life.
Foreign trade in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has witnessed major changes in the past four decades, both geographically and structurally, doubling its size 164 folds from Dhs2.362bn in 1970 to Dhs387.282bn 2010, while doubling the volume of exports at current prices about 150 times, from Dhs2.009bn in 1970 to Dhs300.708bn 2010. The total foreign trade of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi rose by 16396%, while the volume of exports at current prices increased by about 14968%, during the same period.
The data on foreign trade in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its relative importance to GDP indicates trends in the Emirate for opening up to the outside world, especially with the Emirate's trade balance, a key indicator of the financial standing continuously in surplus. As a broad average over the past four decades, exports were equivalent to approximately 56% of GDP, while imports and the visible trade balance surplus represented 13% and 43% respectively of GDP.
The data on foreign trade in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its relative importance to GDP indicates trends in the Emirate for opening up to the outside world, especially with the Emirate's trade balance, a key indicator of the financial standing continuously in surplus. As a broad average over the past five decades, exports were equivalent to approximately 56% of GDP, while imports and the visible trade balance surplus represented 13% and 43% respectively of GDP.
Over the past five decades (from 1962 to 2010) the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has continued to achieve a surplus in its commodity trade with the outside world, and has never had a trade deficit during this period. The total cumulative surplus achieved by the Emirate during this period is approximately Dhs2.366 trillion at current prices, with the total exported by the Emirate during the same period was about Dhs3.175 trillion at current prices, and its total imports during the same period was about Dhs809bn.
One of the important characteristics of the commodity trade balance of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the period from 1962 - 2010 is the existence of a large surplus, even during the period that witnessed a drop in the price, production and export of crude oil, with the total exports of the Emirate during this period close to four times its imports over the same period. The trade surplus has also constituted an average of 59% of total foreign trade in commodities. This surplus has contributed to strengthening the position and stability of the balance of payments as well as financing the deficit in services. There is no doubt that such a large surplus in the trade balance is considered one of the main strengths of the local economy in meeting the requirements of development.
The Emirate has continued to open up economically and increase foreign trade by increasing the degree of interdependence. The average annual growth rate of commodity exports, during the period from 1970 - 2010, was about 3%, compared with an average annual growth rate of commodity imports during the same period of about 5%, resulting in a surplus in the balance of trade growing at an average annual growth rate of 3.4% during the same period.
Oil and Natural Gas:
In July 1962, the world oil markets received the first shipment of crude oil from Abu Dhabi, and from that date forward, the oil sector has remained the essential foundation upon which the Emirate's economic and social development projects are based, although the percentage of this sector's contribution in GDP has been declining gradually from almost 70% during the first half of the 1970s to less than 50% during the last two years, reflecting the policy of economic diversification pursued by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The first attempt at oil exploration in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi took place on January 11th, 1939, shortly before the events leading up to World War II and exploration slowed down during the war years. Exploration in the Emirate resumed in 1947, yet all the tests conducted affirmed that there was no economic feasibility due to the high cost of drilling and low price of oil at that time. This situation lasted until 1959, when oil was discovered in commercial quantities in the Marban field. The first ship carrying oil sailed from Das Island in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in late July 1962, representing the beginning of the major, comprehensive and continuous development witnessed by the Emirate from that point onwards. During the past five decades, economic performance in the Emirate has continued to directly reflect developments in the crude oil sector, not only because oil sales constitute the main source of national income, but also because oil is the main catalyst in non-oil sectors, through what is spent by the Emirate to support them.
Since then, the oil sector in the Emirate has continued to be mainstay of local economy and the main source of national income, and will continue to do so for many years to come, given that Abu Dhabi is sixth in the world in terms of the global reserves, with reserves estimated currently at around 92 billion barrels, equivalent to 7% of the total confirmed global reserves, while its current production constitutes more than 8% of total OPEC production. Thus the Emirate of Abu Dhabi could continue its oil production for more than 100 years from now at current rates. Despite all this, the most important role in the course of development is not the oil itself, but the wise leadership that has managed and utilized the oil for the benefit and welfare of the people.
The industrial sector in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has witnessed major growth represented in the increasing number of industrial establishments and the expansion of their investments into various fields. In addition the Emirate entered into major industrial joint ventures with several multinationals, established large-scale state-of-the-art industrial zones to attract more investments to the industrial sector, and the value added by this sector has increased from 10.4 million in 1970 to Dhs33.86bn in 2010, while the volume of fixed investment has increased from 8.6 million to Dhs28.472bn during the same period, something which has contributed to this sector's playing an increasingly crucial role in the productivity, diversification and development of the economic base.
Abu Dhabi's drive towards establishing major capital intensive hi-tech industrial complexes in cooperation with major industrial countries comes within the context of industry being a policy priority for Abu Dhabi. The last years witnessed the execution by the competent bodies of programs pertaining to major expansion in industrial activity through establishing several developed industries in various industrial activities. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has been able to establish a solid foundation for major industrial expansion, thus increasing the contribution of this vital sector in the Emirate's economy, especially given the serious commitment of the state leadership to supporting and encouraging these sectors. This they are doing through legislation supportive of industrial development, in addition to the increasing interest in the quality of industrial products. The aluminum, iron, steel, glass, metals, plastic and petrochemical industries are only some of the heavy industries capable of driving growth in the industrial sector.
Industry plays an important role in the economic structure of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as one of the main axes upon which are most of the other branches of production dependent. Industry is also the most important diversifying sources of national income given its multiple areas of activities. Thus building up a sound industrial movement comes on top of the priorities of development plans and programmes.
Thanks to the arduous efforts made in previous years to develop and improve the manufacturing sector as the backbone of the plan to diversify the economy, the value added by this sector leapt from Dhs10.4m in 1970 to Dhs33.86bn in 2010, with an average annual growth rate of 79% during that period. The industrial sector also experienced a giant leap in the rate of growth of industrial establishments during that period, with the volume of fixed investments in the manufacturing activity increasing from Dhs8.6m in 1970 to Dhs28.472bn in 2010.
In recent years, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has pursued an investment plan that has made it a destination for major international companies, given that government policies have operated in harmony with private sector efforts. During the past four decades the number of trade licenses has increased about 50-fold from 1,947 in 1970 to 96,381 in 2010. These licenses have also seen a similar qualitative development during this period.
Affected by the major structural and geographic shifts in the world economy over the past years, with increasing complexity of economic interests among the world countries, which have exceeded geographical boundaries including the movement of capital and energy sources and the opening of different markets, the Emirate headed towards economic reform and restructuring, a more active role for the private sector, and more advanced and transparent government and government entities.
Within this framework, a number of important initiatives have been launched, focusing on economic development and supporting local and foreign private investment. The most important features of the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 consist in enhancing economic performance through the optimal utilization of the financial resources available to achieve structural balance and diversity in the local economy, increasing production, the development of services and their quality, improving performance in institutional, legal and executive bodies regulating the economy to support openness and transparency, encouraging the private sector, enabling it to participate in all economic activities, and the encouragement of partnerships between the local and foreign private sectors.
The effect of all these developments is evident in the increase in the number of trade licenses registered by about 50-fold during the past four decades from 1,947 in 1970 to 96,381 in 2010. These licenses have also seen a similar qualitative development during this period.
The Emirate's economy has greatly developed during the last six years as a result of the increase in oil prices in international markets, the matter which had a positive impact the size of fixed investment in all economic activities that has gowned over the past period at a record pace.
Economic development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is characterized by huge investment in commercial and service activities, bringing about a diversification of national income sources and establishing a productive base. The size of fixed investments has increased from 565 million in 1970 to Dhs177.467bn in 2010, with the share of commercial activities reaching 54% of these investments and the service sector 46%.
The Government of Abu Dhabi has succeeded in expanding the participation of the public sector in productive development, providing services that contribute to the growth of the economic activity, encouraging the private sector by providing vital support. Also, the plans recently adopted by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, especially Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, include an increasing role for local and foreign investment in future development in projects of various sizes and types.
There are many factors that make the investment climate in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi an ideal one, including: the strategic geographical location; modern infrastructure; well-qualified Labour; several bilateral, regional, and international agreements that facilitate the flow of capital and goods between Abu Dhabi and those countries; free zones and industrial cities encouraging foreign and local investment; very low taxes; cheap sources of energy, with oil as the main engine for economic growth; optimal utilization of financial surpluses resulting from oil sales; a modern network of financial establishments necessary to facilitate capital flows and serve national and foreign investors.
The continued endeavor by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to build and upgrade its infrastructure has led it to becoming one of the best-developed in the world. The Government of Abu Dhabi, in less than three decades, has managed to complete a highly-developed network of roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, sea ports and other elements of infrastructure projects that offer the highest standards of services.
In the course of the past four decades, Abu Dhabi has been able to establish a solid infrastructure of communications networks, transportation, roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, ports and other infrastructure projects that match those of the developed nations. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is also well-provided for in highways linking the different regions of the Emirate. Visitors to the Emirate benefit from modern technology in landlines, mobile services, high-speed Internet, and other advanced facilities.
There are three airports in Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi International Airport, Al Ain International Airport, and Al Bateen Airport, which is a VIP airport. As for sea ports, there is Zayed Port, which is equipped with the latest installations and advanced facilities for the reception of large vessels ships, as well as Khalifa Port which is a major milestone in the development of infrastructure in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Through the vision of its senior leadership and the philosophy of excellence built into all infrastructure projects, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi aims to lead the region in the development of urban centres. The Emirate has been able to develop an ambitious urban strategy, namely "Abu Dhabi Plan 2030", which is intended to empower urban planners to respond to the demands of current and future development. The main feature of this plan is the concept of a sustainable city built around thriving suburbs. This concept focuses on growth, upgrading transport services, building multi-purpose roads that are pedestrian friendly, maintaining a more sustainable and less costly infrastructure, while protecting and enhancing the surrounding environment. Abu Dhabi has developed a clearly defined framework for the long-term sustainable growth of the city. It is the embodiment of a new vision to build and expand the city that puts culture and community before abstract business goals. The main objective of the plan is to ensure that the future shape of the city of Abu Dhabi is a reflection of its heritage, preserving its identity, to make the city a model for contemporary Arab cities. The Government of Abu Dhabi has spent generously on the establishment of modern infrastructure. The table below shows the major qualitative developments in some infrastructure indicators.
Land, air and sea transportation in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has experienced remarkable development in the last four decades, with an increase in paved roads from 591 km in 1975 to 2,186 km in 2010, the number of licensed vehicles from 49,104 vehicles to 739,850 vehicles, and the size of passenger traffic at the Abu Dhabi International Airport from 44.2 thousand to 10.8 million passengers, while the number of commercial vessels docking at the Zayed Port increased from 763 to 1830 vessels during the same period.
It is clearly evident that the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is moving towards the development of the tourism sector as one of the key drivers of economic development, within the framework of the Emirate's integrated plan to diversify the economic base through a strategic vision aimed at promoting the growth of tourism activity and increase its contribution to GDP. At the present time, the emirate is witnessing an unprecedented boom in the number of hotels, recreational parks, entertainment venues, shopping malls, residential complexes and luxury waterfront housing, sport and entertainment facilities, art galleries and museums, which all contribute to increasing the numbers of tourists coming to spend their holidays in the Emirate.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has a prominent and distinctive place as an international tourist destination. The tourism sector in the Emirate has witnessed considerable qualitative development over the past few years. This industry is now highly competitive and refined and realizes increasing levels of return, especially since the establishment of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority in 2004, which has come to play a key role in promoting Abu Dhabi's tourism, developing infrastructure and upgrading the tourist products on offer in the Emirate.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is witnessing a broad and highly significant tourist boom that aims to put the Emirate on the world map, given the importance of this sector in supporting and diversifying the economy, driving growth, and boosting development in other activities. The signs of this tourism boom have started to become manifest, with the emergence of several tourism projects launched by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. These make the most of many aspects of the Emirate, such as the beautiful scenery along 400 km of pristine coastline, 200 natural islands, warm and clean seas rich in marine life, ancient oases, vast deserts, deep rooted traditions that still retain their originality and authenticity, and a capital characterized by its globally-renowned architectural character.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi pays close attention to the business tourism sector, which includes the meetings, conferences and events sector. Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre hosts many events and conferences which attract a large number of visitors. It is expected that the business tourism will account for about 50% of the total number of the Emirate's inbound tourism by 2015, compared with 25% in 2010.
Perhaps the scope and nature of the tourist projects that are being implemented and the laws regulating this vital sector accurately pull together the dimensions of this strategy in the medium and long terms, which aims to create a non-traditional tourism sector that focuses on quality rather than quantity, while not neglecting the financial return from the sector.
This major tourist boom is being led by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority through its high-profile activities locally, regionally and internationally. Its job is also the marketing of Abu Dhabi as a tourist destination and the development and regulation of the tourist offering. With the existence of this body, tourism is being coordinated gradually within an integrated institutional framework that has already begun to bear fruit. The Authority today plays a major role in the concerted efforts to promote Abu Dhabi internationally through direct co-ordination with hotels, tour operators, airlines and related entities from the public and private sectors. Over its short existence, the Authority has become an effective institution and a global leader, with a strong presence in a number of the most famous international travel fairs and exhibitions, which are important forums and markets that attract travel agents and specialist companies from around the world.
The real wealth of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is the UAE citizen, who contributes actively in the process of economic and social development through hard work, and who is committed to the rights and duties of citizenship. Over the past years, attention to social and human development has remained at the forefront of the priorities of the government, which is reflected directly in the development of the education, health, housing, infrastructure, and social welfare sectors, as well as the other requirements for the well-being and social welfare of all members of society.
One of the most important reasons for the success of comprehensive development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi over the past decades is the focus on people, above all else, as the means and beneficiaries of development. Thus development is predominantly dedicated to issues of human development, and has managed, through concerted effort in these fields to achieve qualitative leaps forward, the likes of which can rarely be found anywhere in the world in the fields of education, health, and other fields of human and social development, in addition to the major achievements at the level of infrastructure.
Throughout the Emirate, literacy rates have increased, infant mortality rates have fallen and life expectancy has risen. The development effort in Abu Dhabi has gone beyond meeting the basic needs of the individual to steadily and qualitatively promoting education, healthcare, social protection, employment, and expanding the frameworks of development.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is seen as one of the countries in the region which pays the most attention to social welfare through the provision of various public services to maintain an advanced level of social and economic stability. This includes infrastructure and municipal services, as well as educational and health services at the highest international standards.
Here we can point to some brief statistics on human development over the past four decades (1970 - 2010), that place the Emirate of Abu Dhabi strides ahead of other countries of the region:
- Illiteracy rate among nationals (10 years and more) fell from 80.12% in 1970 to 6.13% in 2010.
- Illiteracy rate among female nationals (10 years or more) fell from 89.85% in 1970 to 8.77% in 2010.
- The number of students doubled 42 times, from 6,972 students in 1969/1970 to 291512 students in 2009/2010.
- The number of schools grew 20 times, from 25 schools in 1969/1970 to 489 schools in 2009/2010.
- Decrease in crude mortality rates (per thousand population) from 4.5 in 1975 to 1.5 only in 2010.
- Per capita GDP at current prices increased from Dhs49 thousand in 1970 to Dhs315.3 thousand in 2010, the second highest in the world.
- Average life expectancy at birth for nationals increased from only 49.3 years in 1970 to 76.2 years in 2010.
Traditional education in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi dates back centuries to ancient civilizations, the evidence of which has been found in several historical sites. In later years, different methods of traditional education emerged, including Quranic schools and classes taught by religious scholars, followed by a semi-formal education system. The first school in Abu Dhabi was built in 1930. Formal education began effectively in the academic year 1960/1961, when three schools were opened and 81 male students enrolled in them and were taught by 6 teachers. The first girls' school was opened in the Emirate in 1963/64, while the first kindergarten was opened in 1968.
When Sheikh Zayed - may God rest his soul - took over the reins of power in 1966, he accorded great importance to education, which experienced major quantitative and qualitative leaps forward, covering all parts of the Emirate in a short period of time, and offering both males and females free education in government schools. Private education came about in 1973/74 to complement the efforts of the public sector and provide education for more than 56% of students in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi by 2010.
During the past five decades, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has been able to achieve a major quantitative and qualitative transformation in provision of public education, adult literacy, and the development of vocational training as a means to sustainable human development. This reduced the illiteracy rate among the population of citizens (10 years or more) from 90.13% in 1968 to 6.13% in 2010, while the rate of illiteracy among female citizens (10 years and over) decreased from 97.41% to 8.77% during the same period.
The highest level of government realized early that human skills and intellectual capital are vital elements in strengthening the productive and competitive capabilities of nations, and are vital components in the future of the economy and keys to its successful growth. Abu Dhabi set out immediately on this course, the contours of which were drawn up by the first educator of the Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God rest his soul.
This awareness of the value of people formed a basis for comprehensive development plans and programs, something which is still leading the process of development. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi regards the individual citizen as its true capital and most important means to achieving comprehensive and sustainable development. It is therefore keen to set up new methods and channels of education and knowledge in all kinds of ways, overcoming all the obstacles in its way. In light of this early-established interest, education witnessed a remarkable growth in the number of students, teachers, and administrators, and increases in the budget allocated to it. It has developed horizontally in a way that has reached out to all communities in rural and urban areas, and vertically to include all levels and types of education: academic, vocational and the eradication of illiteracy.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has adopted various strategies to expand the coverage and content of the educational system, vertically and horizontally, to meet the growing needs of the population. In addition, the educational system has responded positively to global technological developments, through including subjects related to information technology in the curricula.
This evident and ongoing progress in education in a short period of time is reflected directly in the declining illiteracy rates among both females and males, as shown in the following table:
Women and Education:
Emirati women, due to the great attention they receive at the highest levels, have been able to notch up several achievements in different spheres of life. Their most significant accomplishments are in the educational field. Female education started for the first time in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the academic year 1963/64 and at the time the total students did not exceed 131. This number continued to increase rapidly until the number of females in general education exceeded 143,000 in 2010.
Women have played a vital and effective role in society throughout the history of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Their role has been enhanced in the last quarter of the past century and acquired new dimensions with the development of education in the Emirate. The continual development achieved by women in the field of education reflects the great concern for this issue. The constitution of the United Arab Emirates has given women this right, as it explicitly states women's right to social freedom, their equality in rights with men, and their enjoyment of the same legal right to education and work and to reach the highest positions.
The consort of the late Sheikh Zayed, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, exerted every effort to support His Highness' vision for a modern society, where women enjoy all their rights within a genuine Arab Muslim framework. Her Highness established the first women's society in the country on February 8th, 1973, which was the Emirati Woman's Society. She also targeted the development of women morally, culturally, and socially, to be capable of contributing to the comprehensive progress of the nation, in accordance with the teachings of Islam and ancient Arab traditions. In this regard, Sheikha Fatima is quoted to have said: "Emirati women have made remarkable and carefully planned progress, while maintaining their religious and cultural heritage.
Due to this dedicated attention, Emirati women have greatly benefited from the various educational opportunities provided by the Government of Abu Dhabi, demonstrating their ability to shoulder responsibility. The results of secondary education in the past two decades are proof of the excellence of female Emirati students, who achieved the highest ranking and success rates. The previous figure shows that the proportion of male students in education has continually and gradually decreased with the increased interest in woman's education; the percentage of female to male students rose from zero in 1960/1961 to 97 in 2009/2010 as the number of female students amounted to 143 thousand compared to 148 thousand males in that school year.
The health care system in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has undergone remarkable development during the past four decades and currently provides basic health services in a comprehensive manner to all parts of the Emirate. During the period from 1975 to 2010, the number of government hospitals and the number of beds increased 6-fold.The number of doctors in government hospitals grew from 625 in 1985 to 2,026 in 2010. There are currently 33 hospitals, 435 health centres and 48 government clinics in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in addition to 19 hospitals and 191 non-governmental clinics staffed by 2,731 doctors.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi occupies prominent international positions in terms of the efforts it makes to provide a good life for its people. In the past years, the Emirate has witnessed major development in the health sector, both public and private. As regards the government sector, the primary health care services have greatly evolved so as to cover the whole of the Emirate. These centres provide basic treatment, dentistry services and health education. Moreover, preventive health services included a programme to monitor and fight communicable diseases through the use of vaccination, chemical disinfection, monitoring of patient's contacts, early detection and raising awareness and health education, by cooperating with all concerned departments in the Emirate. The efforts of Health Authority of Abu Dhabi (HAAD) include the development of a drug policy that sets the rules and regulations that govern the process of drug usage, validity and side effects. It is worth noting that the infrastructure for health services was represented in only two hospitals with around 600 beds in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain cities in 1975. By 2010, the number of government hospitals had reached 14, which have 2,582 beds, in addition to two military hospitals, and 435 health centres (public and private). The number of doctors at state hospitals increased to 2,026 in 2010. Specialized services also experienced major development reflected in the levels of performance in all departments. The private health sector is also growing, especially with the improvement of the health insurance system that lightens the burden on government health facilities. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi currently has 19 private hospitals and 239 private clinics.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has been able, over the past forty years, to lay the foundation of a healthcare network that covered all nationals across the country, accompanied by an improvement in all health indicators. Chronic and infectious diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, infantile paralysis (poliomyelitis), and measles have been eradicated, thus decreasing the mortality rate to only 1.5 per thousand population, compared to around 4.5 in 1975. All this has contributed to raising life expectancy at birth for nationals to 76.2 years in 2010 (among the highest in the world) up from 49.3 years on average in 1970.