Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development has received students from Harvard Kennedy School's Centre and of the Emirates Leadership Initiative (ELI) who recently made a week-long tour of the UAE.
Addressing the students, Sheikh Nahyan said their visit to the UAE was a clear evidence of the success of the Emirates Leadership Initiative and the wisdom of its founder, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
"His Highness Sheikh Mohamed has long concentrated on the future of our country and the absolute necessity for developing educated leaders. The Crown Prince has declared that (and I quote) "Education is a country's single most important priority and investing in the educational development of the individual represents the only real investment." I am gratified to note that our guests from Harvard Kennedy School come from many nations and will surely constitute a notable part of the leadership of those countries," Sheikh Nahyan said.
He went on to say: "The United Arab Emirates is a global society of many cultures – a country where people from nearly 200 nations work and live in peace and harmony. Outside observers marvel that the UAE has become and remains productive, exciting, peaceful, prosperous, and inviting despite its mélange of cultures, religions, economic classes, and languages. For millennia our region of the world has been a crossroads of cultures and trade and I am pleased to say that this characteristic continues into the 21st century. In the United Arab Emirates, we are experiencing the privilege of understanding and appreciating the many cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities that live and work peacefully and harmoniously in our country. We have developed a global perspective that will be enhanced by our contact with all of you from Harvard Kennedy School.
In fact, as you get to know the UAE, you will quickly realise the pivotal role it plays in regional and world affairs. This role has many important elements. We are committed to sustainable development. We play a key role in regional and global security. We are engaged in the global energy situation. We are a regional and global centre of trade and investment. We are building and strengthening the institutions that make economic cooperation with our neighbours and friends possible. And the UAE is very active in promoting socio-economic development in the region and the world." Sheikh Nahyan urged the students, as they focus in particular on topics of energy and the environment, to remember that future success depends on our collective ability to innovate and create new knowledge, new technologies and new products and processes and to apply them to improve the quality of life of the world's citizens. He further said success depends on building relationships across boundaries and borders and strengthening cooperation in all regions of the world.
"Your school, the Harvard Kennedy School, has always been an important source of ideas, talent and leadership that helps shape economic and policy trends, not only in the United States, but also around the world. My review of your ambitious and demanding schedule for this week leads me to imagine that already you may know more than I about my own country's actions regarding energy and the environment. All of us in this country must exert ourselves to stay abreast of the many promising national initiatives for preserving and improving our environment and for doing our part in properly providing the energy needed for the growing world economy.
The World Future Energy Summit, to which the Harvard delegation so brilliantly contributed today, exemplifies the commitment by His Highness the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, as well as the deep-seated dedication of the Crown Prince, the patron of the Energy Summit, to confronting the challenges of global warming, greenhouse gases, water shortages, agricultural realities, and demands for energy. Only global cooperation and accommodation can solve our global problems. The innovative work of our Ministry of Environment and Water, the breath-taking achievements at Masdar, and the wonders of Dubai's solar park, for example, will realise their greatest success as a part of a much larger set of actions accomplished around the world, I believe that such actions will occur. I am confident because I have read the biographical sketches of you twenty-seven guests from Harvard Kennedy School. Your achievements fill me with awe. Your interests range far beyond the sixteen nations that you represent. As a group you symbolise my hope for our global future. I know that hope is not a plan. But no plan will succeed in the absence of intelligence, vision, understanding, and ambition. I see those qualities in you, and I firmly believe that you will conceive and execute the plans that will justify my hope." Sheikh Nahyan concluded by saying as graduate students at one of the world's premier universities, the students should understand that true leaders are predominately change makers.
"At the same time, your enrolment in the Emirates Leadership Initiative is a noble declaration that understanding leadership and the development of leaders is more important now than ever before as we take advantage of the many opportunities for change. We must, however, reaffirm our commitment to work together to create and preserve a world order that promotes peace, hope, understanding, stability, cooperation and prosperity, he said.
The tour enabled 30 post graduate students to get a first-hand knowledge of the UAE's pioneering role in energy and environment. They met during their tour with Emirati officials and visited organisations concerned with sustainable and clean energy, including Masdar, Environment Authority - Abu Dhabi, Shurooq, and the ministry of energy. They also made a visit to the office of the Prime Minister.
At the launch of the ELI last year, Yousuf Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US said: "We must also do a better job of providing an alternative to extremism. This means better economic opportunities and, most of all, education. This is the real antidote to extremism: education and empowerment." ELI is funded by a gift from the government of the UAE. to deepen HKS's engagement with the peoples and countries of the Middle East through a wide array of new leadership, research, executive education and fellowship programmes. The initiative also supports Harvard faculty research on the Middle East and student research and internships in the region.
The initiative is co-chaired by former US Ambassador Nicholas Burns and Professor David Gergen, Co-director of Centre for Public Leadership.