Climate change will define UAE’s next 50 years

In a country not known for doing things by half, the UAE’s 50th-birthday celebrations on December 2 were impressive. Flags flew, fireworks exploded, the UAE Air Force aerobatic display team painted the skies red, green, white and black, and the omnipresent face of the founder gazed down upon his creation.

In the half-century since Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi seized the opportunity presented by Britain’s sudden decision to end an imperial presence in the Persian Gulf that dated back more than a century and a half, the transformation of the former Trucial States has been astonishing.

Evidence of the success of that enterprize is everywhere, from the impossibly rapid transformation of the modest trading and fishing settlements of Dubai and Abu Dhabi into the glittering metropolises of today, to the establishment of a once inhospitable stretch of barren desert, once a “hardship posting” for Western soldiers and oilmen alike, as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations.

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