ABU DHABI, -- The establishment of the United Arab Emirates, UAE, as one unified state has contributed towards protecting peace and stability in the region, which has vital and strategic importance for economy, security and stability of the entire world, said Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, on Monday.

"This unified state proved that it represented a significant addition to stability, peace and co-existence, and established a strong economic presence, thanks to its success in development," he said on the opening day of the Arab Thought Foundation's 15th annual conference, "FIKR15."

Held under the overarching theme "Arab Integration: GCC and UAE: A successful Role Model," the three-day conference is being hosted in Abu Dhabi under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The event has been organised by the Foundation in partnership with the League of Arab States.

FIKR15 seeks to discuss "a highly prioritised issue of utmost importance that is closely connected to the future of the Arab World and its ability to safeguard its security, existence, achievements and interests, as well as the happiness and well-being of its people," Minister Gargash said.

Stressing that the UAE had presented Arabs with an inspiring model for unity and development, the minister cited the founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who once said, "A wider pan-Arab unity that has the UAE as its kernel is not just a dream, nor an illusion. Rather, it is a reality that can be created if intentions are good and if wishes, hopes and ambitions interact with endeavours and work. Its success refutes sceptics who have doubts about the possibility of establishing unity among all parts of the Arab World."

Gargash also highlighted the UAE's celebration of its 45th National Day on 2nd December as a historical milestone that fulfilled people's aspirations for unity, sovereignty, peace and security.

He thanked Saudi Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Governor of Makkah Region and President of the Arab Thought Foundation, for making Arab integration the focus of the conference.

Contrary to expectations in the 1970s, the founding of the UAE in 1971 filled a vacuum that was created by the withdrawal of the British from the Arabian Gulf and pre-empted attempts by certain powers to expand and serve their "greedy ambitions," Gargash said, noting that 10 years later, in 1981, the six-member Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, GCC, comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates, was created and launched from Abu Dhabi.

Unification of the UAE was a gradual process where the will of people was the driving force, the Minister said, and noted that Sheikh Zayed always met the citizens and promoted his vision for the union.

"Unity cannot be created by emotions and slogans. Rather, it comes as the fruit of continuous hard work and realistic plans to transform potential into a tangible reality," Gargash added.

High-level officials and policymakers from the UAE, GCC and other Arab states, and representatives of non-governmental bodies, think tanks, cultural institutions and the private sector are taking part in FIKR15.

Gargash conveyed greetings from President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Source: Emirates News Agency