Wednesday 01 February 2017
National security is a key requirement of all states. Protecting the national interests of any nation requires the development of strategies and capabilities designed to meet a wide variety of challenges. Although effective security in our globalized age can come from many sources, each nation must find its own strategic path; fortunately, the UAE’s unique national approach to security is one of the nation’s great strengths.
The UAE has built and cultivated a unique national identity, an element of national culture that gives strength to what the nation does and means. That national identity gives ocus to the way the UAE protects its national interests, and more importantly, drives the way the UAE operates on the world stage. The UAE acts in a way that magnifies its national power and accomplishes more than any other similar nation. The potent, smart-power approach of the UAE should serve as a model for other states. Some respectfully refer to the UAE as “Little Sparta” because the UAE has proven its military prowess under extremely demanding circumstances.
But in reality, the UAE’s military power is only one component of the significant influence it wields across the globe. The UAE punches above its weight diplomatically because of its smart use of national economic and cultural power. And it uses its influence is a way designed to maximize its impact on the issues that are most important to its future.
The UAE has developed a unique variety of smart national power implementation. Sovereign wealth funds allow the UAE to wield significant financial capacity; strategic storage of oil in other nations allows the UAE to have a reserve of national economic power outside its borders. Strong participation in international organizations (such as NATO and IRENA) gives the UAE great diplomatic credibility and adds weight to its diplomatic efforts. The important military and diplomatic role that the UAE is playing in the campaign again terrorism gives it more influence than most similarly-sized nations around the world; its hosting of Hedayah and Sawab amplify its voice.
The five-year plan for foreign aid developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation provides a strong example of the UAE’s smart-power approach. The foreign aid strategy, designed to culminate in 2021, places emphasis on women’s empowerment and protection, transport and urban infrastructure, and technical cooperation. As the Minister of State for International Cooperation, Reem Al Hashemi, has noted, “The UAE seeks to establish a new approach based on providing assistance through developmental projects that benefits the beneficiary countries….
the wise UAE leadership has decided on a clear approach that does not link humanitarian aid with the policies of the beneficiary countries. This has earned the UAE high respect and appreciation globally.”
There can be no doubt that challenges will continue to test the UAE, but its powerful domestic culture will preserve unity, and build patriotic spirit and psychological power within the country. Political scientists hold that the better the alignment between the views of the government and the views of the people in any state, the stronger the state; the UAE is an oasis of security in a region of unrest because of its strong national unity and the enduring bond among Emiratis and their leaders. This empowers the UAE to operate using its uniquely influential approach to security. Exemplifying its values on the world stage while fostering strong Emirati culture will enable the UAE to prosper despite all challenges. It is a nation of smart power, leading the world by example.