THE TRAILBLAZER: How has the United Arab Emirates emerged as the most innovative and peaceful nation in the Arab world?

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My conversation with Dr. Ali Rashid al Nuaimi, a trusted confidante of UAE President Mohamed bin ZayedShare this article

by Joel C. Rosenberg | January 19, 2023

ABU DHABI – When it achieved its independence on Dec. 2, 1971, the United Arab Emirates was poor, small, largely uneducated, and not much more than a series of fishing villages.

A half century later, the UAE has emerged as the most innovative, dynamic, peaceful, pro-growth, and pro-progress country in the Arab world.

I have dubbed it, “The Trailblazer.”

Consider just a handful of the UAE’s stunning accomplishments:

  • Created one of the fastest growing economies in the Arab world, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of nearly $700 billion.
  • Built the tallest building in the world, the Burj al-Khalifa, located in the commercial capital of Dubai.
  • Hosted the immensely-successful World Expo in 2020, which attracted more than 24 million visitors from 192 countries.
  • Home to a large and thriving Christian population, with some 75 church buildings and some 750 freely operating Christian church congregations (many congregations share the use of the existing buildings).
  • Developed a space program and launched an unmanned mission to Mars, a probe named Al Amal (Arabic for hope).
  • Built a safe, legal, non-military, internationally monitored and non-controversial nuclear power industry.
  • Opened a world-class art, history and cultural museum—the billion-dollar Louvre Abu Dhabi.
  • Opened a high-tech counterterrorism war room to track and counteract violent and extremist messages on TV, radio, print and social media in real time.
  • Welcomed a delegation of Evangelical Christian leaders to the Gulf region, the one I was honored to lead in the fall of 2018, to meet with MBZ and his senior team.
  • Hosted Pope Francis not only for a state visit but also to hold a public mass, attended by 150,000 people in the spring of 2019.
  • Signed a formal peace treaty with the State of Israel in the fall of 2020, the first Arab state to do so since Jordan in 1994.
  • Purchased a squadron of F-35 stealth fighter jets, America’s most advanced military aircraft.


To find out the secret to the UAE’s success, I came to Abu Dhabi – the political and diplomatic capital of the UAE – and sat down with Dr. Ali Rashid al Nuami, a senior advisor and trusted confidante of UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, widely known by his initials, “MBZ.”

Joel C. Rosenberg interviews Dr. Ali Rashid al Nuaimi (Photo: ALL ARAB NEWS)

Dr. Nuaimi is also a founding member of the ALL ARAB NEWS Advisory Board.

Watch a few excerpts from our conversation by clicking here.


I strongly encourage you to visit the UAE.

To study the country’s fascinating history.

To invest in the country’s powerful economy.

And to pray for the UAE’s kind and welcoming people.

Dr. Ali Rashid al Nuaimi (Photo: ALL ARAB NEWS)


For centuries, of course, Egypt was the leader of the Arab world because of its geographic size, immense population, powerful economy and military might.

But though Egypt still has the largest population in the Arab world with 107 million citizens, it is a country that has fallen on hard times.

Some believe Saudi Arabia has eclipsed Egypt as the leader of the Arab world.

Home to Mecca and Medina, the Saudi Kingdom is certainly deeply important to Muslims.

The Saudis also have the Arab world’s largest economy, with a GDP of $1.6 trillion.

But it’s difficult to make the case that the Saudis are currently the most innovative and progress-making country in the Arab world.

They aspire to be, and under the leadership of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) they are finally moving in a positive and impressive direction.

That said, having traveled extensively through the region from Morocco in the West to Afghanistan in the East over the past two decades, there is no doubt in my mind that the UAE is the innovative leader of the Arab world.

The country’s modern founder and visionary – Sheikh Zayed al Nahyan – set the explosive progress in motion.

Sadly, however, he passed away in 2004.

Ten years later, his successor became terribly ill.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi (Photo: ALL ARAB NEWS)

In 2014, Sheikh Zayed’s eldest son – Mohamed bin Zayed (MBZ) – emerged as the country’s crown prince and de facto leader.

And while the country has been growing and advancing steadily since 1971, when MBZ took over, the UAE really began to turn heads.

MBZ shuns the spotlight, rarely gives interviews and almost never gives speeches.

He prefers to operate behind the scenes.

And while he only officially became the nation’s president and head of state last year, make no mistake: MBZ is most definitely the man driving its reforms and its meteoric rise in the Gulf region.

With a population less than 10 million people, the oil-rich UAE has nevertheless become one of the wealthiest countries in the region.

It has the largest sovereign wealth fund in the Arab world, worth upwards of $700 billion.

Abu Dhabi at night (Photo: ALL ARAB NEWS)

And having long recognized that its petroleum reserves are a finite asset, the Emirates have been systematically and quite effectively diversifying their economy away from oil dependency.

Indeed, the oil and gas sectors now account for only about one-third of the GDP.

Nevertheless, MBZ – a moderate Muslim with a passion to expand freedom and opportunity for his people, while vigorously opposing the Iranian regime and radical Islamism in all its forms  – has worked closely with the emirs of Dubai and other regions of the country to rack up one impressive accomplishment after another.

I go into deeper detail about the country’s origins and its vision for the future in my 2021 non-fiction book, Enemies and Allies: An Unforgettable Journey inside the Fast-Moving & Immensely Turbulent Modern Middle East.

I hope you’ll find my exclusive conversations with MBZ and its other impressive leaders helpful as you explore and pray for the United Arab Emirates.

Joel C. Rosenberg interviews Dr. Ali Rashid al Nuaimi (Photo: ALL ARAB NEWS)

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Steve Martin

STEVE & LAURIE MARTIN - LOVE FOR HIS PEOPLE FOUNDERS My good wife Laurie and I (married 45 years), founded Love For His People Ministry in 2010. This work gives love and support to our friends in Israel and other nations with friendship and humanitarian aid. Through social media, Steve's messages, and our Ahava Adventures trips to Israel, it is a growing, effective organization. Steve has also authored and published 36 books. We live in the Charlotte, NC area and have four adult children, spouses, and eight grandkids. Ahava and shalom with blessings on ye head!

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