Sunday 01 November 2015

Achieving the national vision requires effective security in our complex age. Unfortunately managing power and influence in the international system will produce risk and challenges will always have to be overcome in the process of achieving national interests; so one attribute that will be essential on our future path is national resilience. The UAE is already one of the more resilient nations in the region, but improving its ability to adapt strategically will fortify our growing prosperity through the years to come.

Resilience is “positive adaptation,” a productive response to a stressful or adverse situation. Thus national resilience is a nation’s ability to bounce back from any negative experience. Studies show that there are several factors which enhance a person’s resilience, including the ability to make realistic plans and taking the steps necessary to follow through with them, having a positive self-concept and confidence in one’s strengths and abilities, demonstrating good communication and problem-solving, and an ability to manage strong impulses and feelings. Although these traits are intended for individuals, they also have value for nations.

Resilience has been a common term in business, generating processes such as Risk Management, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery and Information Security. These techniques hardened organizational performance against the unexpected and were fundamental for adapting businesses to the consequences of unanticipated events. Those processes also have value for states. Global and regional turbulence will be the norm for years to come; competition, instability and uncertainty are constants in our modern world. To prosper in today’s environment of heightened uncertainty, nations must move past traditional governance models and build in resilience within every entity. Even the best strategic plans suffer when they encounter surprises, until and unless all of our governance mechanisms enhance their resilience against the unexpected. At the national level, major infrastructure concerns and societal institutions must be robust enough, and sufficiently unencumbered by legal and regulatory constraints, to serve the national good in normal operations and also through crisis and recovery.

Being resilient is a proactive and determined attitude to remain a thriving enterprise (state, region, organization or person) despite unanticipated challenges that will inevitably emerge. National resilience moves beyond a defensive security and protection posture and fortifies the state’s inherent ability to withstand the effects of crisis and deflect attacks of any nature through greater inner strength. Ultimately, resilience is empowered self-awareness of risks, vulnerabilities and challenges, confidence in the nation’s capabilities to deal with them, as well as an ability to make informed strategic decisions in response to change. Any nation that realizes the benefits of these techniques to build resilience will have a higher likelihood of thriving despite inevitable challenges.

The UAE vision will help ensure the strategic security and prosperity of the UAE by providing parallel pathways for success even in uncertain times, thus strengthening resilience. The government has also established innovation and adaptability as hallmarks of effectiveness. The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) works under the supervision of the Supreme Council for National Security to set national standards and regulate and coordinate emergency, crisis and disaster management actions as well as develop national plans for responding to emergencies. And, in this memorial month, the recent experiences of the UAE during the ongoing conflict in Yemen have also clearly demonstrated both the passionate dedication of the nation’s leaders and the high degree of psychological resilience among nationals.

The construction of a memorial in Abu Dhabi for the Emiratis who have died in the fight to restore stability in Yemen will keep their memory alive in the hearts of future generations and reinforce national resilience, as will the annual Martyr’s Day holiday. Although there can be no doubt that future challenges will continue to test the UAE, all the required plans and capabilities are in place to bolster our development. Valuing such sacrifices, the nation needs to continue to anticipate, proactively adapt and strengthen its resolve as future challenges occur to ensure the resilience of our national security going forward.