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UAE Documentary a Journey of Discovery

2009. 24 August

( A new documentary film on the UAE will be screened at the EXPO 2010, which will take place in Shanghai, China. The film is available from the National Media Council in DVD fomat and can be downloaded from UAE Expo web site , in English and Mandarin, as well as from in English, Chinese, French, German, Spanish and Arabic.

World Expo 2010 Shanghai has chosen the unifying theme of 'Better City, Better Life' and participating countries are expected to interpret this concept in their pavilions.

The 26-minute film takes viewers on a journey of discovery that illustrates how the concept of creating better cities and improving the lives of their citizens has been the priorities of the UAE government.

It starts with “Wealth is not money. Wealth is in people”, the words of the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to remind viewers that the UAE’s development should not be seen in terms of changing skylines and rising tower-blocks, however impressive they may be, but in terms of character development, education levels and other aspects of human development.

One of the film’s main spokespersons is Zaki Nusseibeh, vice chairman of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

He describes UAE as being justifiably “proud of its achievements, comfortable in its own skin… embracing the world, building bridges where others seek to create conflict and struggle”.

Oil made it all possible, but as Nusseibeh pointed out, it was seen by the government here as a means to an end, not an end in itself.

“It is true, oil money can help, but if you look around you in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere, natural resources sometimes can be a damnation. In the Emirates the natural resources were used to develop the country. What was created was a state that truly is advanced in terms of industry the economy. It is a leader, an innovator, a financial and economic powerhouse. They had to build not only the physical infrastructure but the social infrastructure as well,” he added.

Urban Planning has been part of the UAE’s development priorities from day one. The city of Abu Dhabi was originally planned for a population of 100,000 people but Shaikh Zayed insisted from the beginning that it should be revised to deal with one million people.

“Planning a city is like planning your life. You don’t want to make any mistakes… so you have to get it right”, said Falah Al Ahbabi, general manager of Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council.

Today over 90 per cent of the population of the UAE live in cities.

Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan,  Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, described the change to the human landscape: “This transformation of people, from what they were about 45 years ago to what they are today, that is, I think it’s the country’s greatest achievement… The change has been really remarkable. Shaikh Zayed used to say that the best investment is in the people, and the best reward that you have is when you invest in education. Shaikh Zayed began the change by giving students salaries for going to school”.

“When we talk about Better City Better Life, it is not just about cities. Our focus is mainly on people.” reiterated the secretary general of The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, Majid Al Mansouri, who also appears in the film.The healthcare aspect of this story is then taken up by Dr Maha Taysar Barakat from Abu Dhabi Imperial College Diabetes Centre. The centre is a world class facility for diabetes treatment, teaching and research.

“Not only do we treat patients with diabetes here we also empower people in the community to understand what diabetes is and how they can protect themselves… In our own way the UAE is contributing to solve the problem of diabetes worldwide”, she said.

After looking at some of the major urban projects underway in 2009, such as Abu Dhabi Central Market, Masdar, Burj Dubai and Downtown Dubai, the film introduces Omar Al Suwaidi, an Emirati architectural student, who believes that architecture is all about designing and building for the people while respecting environmental concerns.

Abdul Majid Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai’s Rail Agency, discusses the challenges of introducing rail transportation to the UAE and showcases the city’s innovative Metro rail system: “faster, safer, cleaner – that is what we call a ‘better life’”, he said.Religion, tourism, arts and culture are also topics presented in the documentary film.

“It is a very safe country… to us it is one of the best Arabian Ambassadors in the world” summed up Majid Al Mansouri.

“Building the Emirates: Better City Better Life” is a media initiative of the National Media Council in support of the UAE’s participation at EXPO 2010.