The UAE has made progress to­ward be­ing a model for pos­i­tive change

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The Dec. 3 edi­to­rial “A quar­tet of despots in the Mid­dle East” mis­char­ac­ter­ized the United Arab Emi­rates as ne­glect­ing its role as a pos­i­tive force for change in the world’s most trou­bled re­gion. In just 47 years, the UAE cre­ated a so­ci­ety built upon the val­ues of in­clu­sion, mu­tual re­spect and shared pros­per­ity. Arab youths iden­tify the UAE as the “top coun­try to live in” by a 2-to-1 mar­gin over the next-ranked coun­tries. Peo­ple of more than 200 na­tion­al­i­ties live peace­fully in the UAE. There are more than 40 Chris­tian churches, and there are Hindu and Sikh tem­ples. In­ter­na­tional re­li­gious lead­ers gath­ered in Abu Dhabi to dis­cuss ways to cre­ate a more open and tol­er­ant re­gion for all faiths.

More than 80 univer­si­ties in the UAE are chal­leng­ing and in­spir­ing young peo­ple. More than 20 mil­lion tourists vis­ited the UAE last year. UAE pass­port hold­ers can travel to 167 coun­tries with­out the need for pre-visa re­quire­ments, un­der­scor­ing what can be achieved through pos­i­tive diplo­macy.

Women in the UAE are re­li­gious min­is­ters, fighter pi­lots, judges, chief ex­ec­u­tives and even hockey play­ers. And next March, more than 7,000 ath­letes will com­pete at the Spe­cial Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, re­in­forc­ing and ex­pand­ing the val­ues of in­clu­sion and mu­tual re­spect into a re­gion that can use much more of both. The UAE is a young coun­try, with much work to do. How­ever, we have made sig­nif­i­cant progress as a model for pos­i­tive change in the re­gion and a stead­fast U.S. ally. These are hardly the traits of an “op­pres­sive” so­ci­ety.

Yousef Al Otaiba, Wash­ing­ton The writer is the United Arab Emi­rates’

am­bas­sador to the United States.

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