A view of Tolerance Bridge at Dubai Canal, 2017. (Photo: Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
A view of Tolerance Bridge at Dubai Canal, 2017. (Photo: Tom Dulat/Getty Images)
A decade of media experimentation
The past decade has not been easy for newspapers; nor has it been dull. No one goes into journalism wanting an easy time or a boring one. So it hasn’t been a bad decade. On the contrary, it has been an exciting one. And for the Middle East, 2008 saw the birth of a newspaper that made its mark from day one. Launched on 17 April 2008, The National was able to carve out a unique space as the newspaper telling the story of Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the wider region. At a time when newspapers around the world were being closed, The National was established to become a newspaper of record for the UAE and Middle East, with a network of writers around the world.
While The National was being born, the media industry around the world was being disrupted and transformed. Round-the-clock satellite TV news was no longer the key challenger; rather, the growth of the digital sources of information, in all their forms, became the prime competitor to traditional media. Social media networks and mobile phones (the iPhone recently turned 10 too) have revolutionised how people around the world get their information. Terms such as “Google it”, “fake news” and “tweet” have become common in journalist lexicon, and in the consciousness of readers.
Less than 10 months since our relaunch under the ownership of International Media Investments, our shift to digital growth has meant a focus on varying how we tell a story. Almost 90 per cent of our readers never see our newspaper. On any given day, 30 to 35 per cent of our readers come to our pages – the digital ones – through search. But our dedicated core readers continue to subscribe to our print edition and our daily newsletter, and engage with our outlets such as the website, the app and social media feeds.
"As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we are thinking about the next 100"
The joy of print today is that a story that could previously only be written in a confined space of 500 words can come to life in immersive storytelling. While the written word remains at the core of how we reach our readers, we have a growing audience for visual storytelling through photos, video and animated graphics. Audio is becoming crucial to news and thus we have three weekly podcasts recorded in our studio in Abu Dhabi, with more in the pipeline.
As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary we are thinking about the next 100. We are not naive about the challenges that face us. From monetising digital content to engaging younger audiences, the task ahead is to remain relevant and worthy of our readers’ most important resource – time.
Mina Al-Oraibi, Editor-in-Chief
Something new every day
There are so many more of us now in April 2018 as compared to 10 years ago – at least another one million living and working in the UAE, making it a place called home.
The country has also grown since the printing presses of The National first rolled in the early hours of April 17, 2008. Just like UAE, they bring something new every day.
Consider Abu Dhabi in the spring of 2008. The skyline was dominated – if that is the right word – by the headquarters of what was then the National Bank of Abu Dhabi on Sheikh Khalifa Street.
At 173 metres, it is less than half the height of the capital’s newest giant, the 382 metre Mohammed bin Rashid tower rising out of the World Trade Centre, which opened in 2013 on the site of the Abu Dhabi souq, a marketplace at the heart of the city going back two centuries.
Some of the city’s most spectacular buildings have sprung up in this time. The Capital Gate, attached to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, is certified as the world’s furthest leaning manmade structure by Guinness World Records in 2010.
Zaha Hadid’s Sheikh Zayed Bridge still wanted the centre span 10 years ago, before opening in November 2010. That month saw the state visit of Queen Elizabeth, her first since 1979, and the opening by the President of the Sheikh Zayed Bridge and the new motorway bearing the same name.
It opened a whole new gateway to the city, cutting across from the airport past mangroves and azure waters and across Yas and Saadiyat Islands, the new frontier of the city.
What more needs to be said about the Yas Marina Circuit, which brought Formula One for the first time in 2009, or Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened on Saadiyat only last November.
But the city has evolved in other ways, perhaps less architecturally spectacular but which have profoundly influenced the quality of life in Abu Dhabi.
The revival of the Corniche began with the first of three free Womad world music festivals in 2009 with stars such as Rashid Taha and Khaled, and continues with the expansion of the public beach as a place for families to enjoy their leisure time.
The Abu Dhabi Food Festival and the Liwa Date Festival are new additions to the cultural scene during this time, while the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, sometimes dubbed the Arabic Booker, was first awarded in 2008, to the Egyptian writer Bahaa Taher.
It is along the drive to Dubai that other changes over the past 10 years become evident. The road is wider in many places than it was in 2008, to reflect the growth in traffic and the construction of Kizad, the deep-water port and industrial zone in 2010.
Dubai as a city now begins just over the border with its neighbour, with the collection of theme parks that includes Legoland and Bollywood Parks.
It seems an age since the city watched the construction of the final stages and tried to guess the height of what was then called the Burj Dubai, but opened as the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in 2010.
We wandered through the new Dubai Mall in November 2008 and wondered if there could ever be enough customers or retailers to fill what was soon billed the most visited building on the planet (oh, and the mall opened a 93,000-square-metre luxury brand expansion last month).
The Metro is so woven into the fabric of the city that it is hard to imagine life without it.
The idea of extending Dubai Creek with a canal through Jumeirah was postponed because of the financial crisis of 2009, revived in 2013 and finally opened in November 2016.
This is a city that is expanding not just upwards, but outwards. Using satellite imagery, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre has calculated Dubai’s coastline grew by 6 per cent between 2009 and 2015.
Even the quieter corners of the UAE have experienced dramatic change in the lifetime of this newspaper so far. Al Ain has further cemented its reputation as a cultural centre, with the restoration of Qasr Al Muwaiji, the birthplace of Sheikh Khalifa, in 2015 and the revival of Souq Al Qasr as a focus for local handicrafts and Emirati culture.
Ten years ago the drive west towards Ruwais and Tarif was a nerve-racking game of dodgems involving lumbering trucks and Saudi-driven Land Cruisers.
The old two-lane highway has been transformed to a modern motorway, easing access to getaways such as Sir Bani Yas island, once a wildlife centre established by Sheikh Zayed but welcoming guests as a luxury resort with a safari experience since October 2008.
Drivers along the improved E11 east will also notice something else new on part of their journey. Trains, which have been using the freight route built by Etihad Rail, were established in 2009 and operating services since 2013.
Transport has also been dramatically improved to the Northern Emirates. The Dubai to Fujairah motorway opened in 2011, halving the drive between the two emirates to just an hour.
Three years ago, in an impressive feat of construction that involved cutting through mountains, the Fujairah bypass further improved links to Dubai and Sharjah. In this sense as the UAE grows larger, it also gets smaller.
Ras Al Khaimah has established itself as a centre for tourism since 2008, with resorts such as the Cove Rotana attracting international visitors and the completion of a road that ends at the viewing platform opened last year on Jebel Jais, the country’s tallest mountain. As always, the UAE aims high.
Diversifying the economy
Much like the US was the land opportunity in the early 1900s, the UAE continues to be a country to which many gravitate towards.
The population has increased nearly threefold in the past decade and half as the country invested billions of dollars in infrastructure, grew its non-oil industries and pressed on with plans to develop a knowledge based economy. That evolution has not come about without challenges, most notably the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, political upheaval that swept across the Arab world from 2011 onwards and a three-year slump in oil prices that started in 2014. If there is a bellwether of the economy’s resilience, it’s the country’s continued ability to attract talent as it pushes on with its Vision 2021 transformation programme for an era post oil.
The UAE remains the easiest place to do business in the Arab world, ranking 21 globally according the World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business index with the country improving from 68 in 2008’s listing. That leap has largely been a result of the UAE government’s commitment to liberalising the economy, increasing the contribution of the non-oil sector, the economy’s engine of growth in the future, and capitalizing on emerging developments globally in the advent of the digital age or what some term as The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The UAE's government recognised early on, an economy entirely reliant on oil is not sustainable. The fourth-largest oil producer in the Middle East, leveraged its wealth to develop an ecosystem that would make the country competitive with innovation and knowledge underpinning its competitiveness. Modernising its education system with the goal of preparing graduates to have the skillsets of the future economy, investing in aviation, aerospace and transportation infrastructure, growing the travel and tourism industry, widening the financial services sector in conjunction with the overhaul of legislation -- all provided the UAE with the resilience it needed to overcome the global financial crisis.
The country “pre-crisis built the infrastructure and continued to build the infrastructure regardless of what the financial crisis and real estate crisis did,” says Fadi Ghandour the chairman of Wamda Capital and founder of Aramex. “It proved that the model in the region of building world class infrastructure was extremely needed when the region went in turmoil, so it became the safe haven for people who wanted to move into a country and plug and play to resume their business, look at new businesses and to continue to conduct whatever they needed across various emerging markets. So it reinforced its original story.”
Liberalising the economy and putting in place the right infrastructure came in different forms. On the legislative front there today is a bankruptcy law that didn’t exist before which is vital to improving the investment environment going forward helping augment a domestic entrepreneurial activity. The establishment of Al Etihad Credit Bureau brings transparency to the market. The government relaxation of visa restrictions has strengthened its tourism industry.
The real estate sector today has regulations as set out by the central bank that reduce leverage on the banking sector as well as individuals, limit speculative activity, mitigate risk and boost investor confidence. The reduction of government subsidies, liberalisation of domestic fuel prices, adjusting electricity tariffs and introduction of VAT at the start of this year will help the government diversify revenue streams, and reduce exposure to the cyclical nature of energy markets.
“The proactive stance and front loading of fiscal reforms when the oil price corrected…puts the economic environment on a far more sustainable footing,” says Monica Malek chief economist of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
The impact of some the government’s measures and developments is reflected in the increase of non-oil economy’s contribution to the country’s GDP, which grew 31 percent in real terms between 2010 and 2016 to reach Dh958.56 billion, according to the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority. The gradual increase in the non-oil sector has invariably strengthened the UAE’s fiscal position and provided a buffer against volatility of oil markets.
“The UAE economy has been relatively resilient to the impact of the slump in oil prices as it has benefitted from a relatively diversified economy, excellent infrastructure, political stability and ample foreign assets,” says Garbis Iradian chief economist for MENA at the Institute of International Finance.
The UAE is today a hub for transportation and logistics with a vibrant tourism industry. The country is home to two of the world’s largest airlines. Emirates is the largest operator of wide-body aircraft. Dubai International Airport handles the highest number of international travellers in the world, reaching 88 million passengers last year compared with 37.4 million in 2008. Al Maktoum International, Dubai’s second-largest airport, which opened in 2013 is set to become the world’s largest when its expansion is complete with the capacity to handle 26 million passengers a year.
In 2017, the total contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the UAE’s economy GDP was Dh154.1bn or 11.3 per cent of GDP, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. In 2008, the industry’s direct contribution to the economy accounted for about 3.5 per cent of GDP. The industry’s contribution is forecast to rise by 4.9 per cent in 2018, and to rise by 3.8 per cent per annum to Dh234.2bn or 10.6 percent of GDP in 2028.
The UAE is “not waiting for demand to happen and then catch up. They always ensure that the space is there to take advantage. They’re always focusing on how to improve its role as a regional hub,” says Ms Malek.
Parallel to the changes on the economic and legislative track, the country’s embrace of the digital age as set out by its National Innovation Strategy has helped foster an environment that incubates and promotes a culture of entrepreneurship. Pre-2008 crisis, free zones existed, however the ecosystem that today includes accelerators, venture capital, access to talent, the latest technology was not there on the scale it is today. Most important of all is the government’s backing of budding businesses which are the backbone of the economy.
"Today, the UAE is a far better diversified economy compared with 2008 from a fiscal and sectoral standpoint."
Ten years ago ecommerce was nascent in the Arab world. Today it’s flourishing and its evolution has changed the landscape of the retail industry. Its disruptive powers forcing companies to adapt to the digital age. The acquisition of Maktoob by Yahoo in 2009 and Souq.com by Amazon last year are a testament not only to the country’s ability to attract talent, but for budding businesses to thrive and attract the interest of global players.
Prior to the Arab uprisings which began in 2010-2011, start-ups were popping up in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon and other areas, but the UAE and Dubai in particular understood a trend was emerging, and ease of doing business in the country became even more paramount.
The UAE “understood very well the technology and digital change that was happening, the start-up explosion and it changed and put in place regulations for start-ups so that they can come and establish themselves,” says Mr Ghandour. “It effectively became a staging city for building start-ups that wanted to come here and then go to the rest of the region. If there is a place to be called the Silicon Valley of the region, then it’s here.”
Ten years back the Dubai International Financial Centre was at a nascent stage and Abu Dhabi Global Market was in the works. Aside from putting in place a regulatory framework their creation has helped build a solid financial services sector, from private equity to asset management. That was recognised in 2014 with the MSCI decision to upgrade the UAE to emerging market status from a frontier market.
Both free zones have been “key to building strong business traction with the international community, facilitate trade and investment opportunities, and provide impetus to the economy as the number of authorized firms continues to grow at an impressive pace,” says Rayan Salam, chief executive of asset manager Ithmar Capital Partners. “They have created a one stop shop for the establishment of financial hubs fully serviced by licenced asset managers, advisors, banks, legal counsel, administrators, custodians, auditors, amongst others. They have also become more innovative, such as the introduction of REIT structures, opening up opportunities not previously available.”
The crash in oil prices in 2014 provided impetus for the government to accelerate fiscal consolidation while also realigning government related entities. The government took steps raise efficiency of the public sector, it reduced spending, merged ministries, and reduced subsidies by liberalising domestic fuel prices and adjusting electricity tariffs.
The UAE corporate base outside of oil and gas is stronger today after the 2014 merger of Dubai Aluminium and Emirates Aluminium which produced Emirates Global Aluminium the is the third-largest exporter of aluminium to the US. First Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s largest bank by assets, which was formed in 2017 following the merger of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank. As part of the country’s economic diversification push it meant sense for Mubadala Development Company to merge with the International Petroleum Investment Company. Mubadala Investment Company, which was born out of that merger just became bigger with Abu Dhabi Investment Council joining its portfolio. The entity now manages well over $200 billion in assets. The strategic alliance, announced last month, between Emaar and Aldar, the two largest property developers in the UAE, is a sign of a maturing market. All of these moves give companies economies of scale and by extension the UAE a greater competitive advantage.
In conjunction with these moves, the UAE, has also managed to shape its energy policy conscientiously in comparison with its peers. Abu Dhabi, which produces much of the country’s oil realised earlier an energy mix that included a healthy balance of gas, renewables as well as fossil fuel would prove more sustainable long term. Apart from concerns over limiting carbon footprint, it was also seen as a more profitable way to free up the country’s low-cost oil for export. On the renewables front, the government is working towards implementing an energy policy that will see five per cent of energy derived from clean sources by 2020, and 15 per cent by 2030.
Abu Dhabi also remains committed to the development of its hydrocarbon reserves, approving a $109bn five-year budget last year for exploration of unconventional gas as well as downstream ventures at home and abroad. The ambitious spending plan comes at a low ebb of energy spend globally, following the dramatic crash in oil prices. The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, which manages much of the country’s reserves, refining, petrochemicals as well as distribution and transmission entities, has also proven adaptive to change, becoming a more integrated energy company, with a leaner business model. It has also begun inviting stakeholders, notably from its core markets of Asia to engage in exploration and production of oil and gas, onshore and offshore the UAE.
“Today, the UAE is a far better diversified economy compared with 2008 from a fiscal and sectoral standpoint,” says Mr Salam.
Fadi Ghandour, executive chairman of Wamda Group. Pawan Singh / The National
Obaid Al Tayer, UAE Minister of State for Finance Affairs, left, and Khalid Al Bustani, the Director-General of the Federal Tax Authority. Ravindranath K / The National
Sultan Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, talks to Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Republic of Tatarstan, at the Annual Investment Meeting. Satish Kumar for The National
An Emirates Global Aluminium facility. Courtesy Mubadala
Growing soft power
"All of us understand hard power, most particularly the expression of military might, but soft power is much harder to define and takes in science, technology, humanitarian work and more"
When Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, launched the UAE Soft Power Council last year, it might have been easy to assume that the country’s strategy to extend its international influence had reached its natural destination. After years of concerted effort to tell this country’s story to the world, “soft power” now had a defined plan and a dedicated body to push that agenda. There were clear goals: to promote the UAE’s position as a gateway in our increasingly interconnected world, to position it as a regional hub for culture, art and tourism and underline the country’s growing reputation as a modern and tolerant country. But how does soft power achieve this when it is such a difficult concept to understand?
All of us understand hard power, most particularly the expression of military might, but soft power is much harder to define and takes in science, technology, humanitarian work and more. Many consider cultural heft as especially important. James Bond, regarded as one of Britain’s most enduring exports, is a character who exists only in film and fiction, but his image, just like the BBC and premier league football, helps sell Britain to the world. The same is true for Hollywood’s role in propagating the idea of the American Dream and US values.
For the UAE, while there is no Mr Bond, there is a steady stream of national assets projecting an image of this country as a forward-thinking nation. And each time the country helps another nation, through comprehensive polio vaccine campaigns in Pakistan and the work of the Reaching the Last Mile Forum or the tireless efforts of Emirates Red Crescent all over the world, it sends out a powerful statement about who we are and what we stand for. As Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said earlier this month, there are "strenuous efforts being made by Emiratis to serve mankind". The country contributed Dh19.3 billion in official development aid last year, topping the world league table. But what about soft power projections on home soil?
You might think straight away about the hosting of Expo 2020, Emirates and Etihad or Image Nation – all of which project something of the nation's narrative and ambitions – but to best understand the transformation this country has undertaken in the past decade, you could start by driving into central Abu Dhabi, turning off Hamdan Street and heading for the educational compound in the centre of the block opposite Qasr Al Hosn, itself an historic fort that was once a projection of the harder edge of Abu Dhabi’s power.
A decade ago, the campus was being prepared as the first home for NYU Abu Dhabi, following the 2007 announcement of a partnership between New York University and Abu Dhabi. The university and the emirate defined their shared vision as including a commitment to the value of a liberal arts education and a dedication to educating students who are “true citizens of the world”, both of which are perfect and powerful antidotes to the one-dimensional and false portraits that people often paint about this region and what it supposedly stands for.
Within six years, the campus had relocated to Saadiyat island, where it joined other emerging projections of a global dialogue, such as Louvre Abu Dhabi. Both NYUAD and the museum, which opened last year, and other institutions elsewhere in the city, like Masdar and the International Renewable Energy Agency headquarters, broadcast this country’s willingness to co-operate, collaborate and accommodate.
The story for the campus in the heart of Abu Dhabi city did not end there. When the university left the site, a new entity moved in. Emirates Diplomatic Academy, established in 2014, was created to be a centre to develop the next generation of leaders and policy-makers. Its opening was another clear nod to the fact that the UAE understands that its people, and their ability to tell the national story to the world, are its greatest assets.
NYUAD, EDA and Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi are all part of the same thread. As too are the recent creation of new and niche ministerial portfolios within the Government, including the appointment of ministers for youth, artificial intelligence, tolerance and happiness. Shamma Al Mazrui became the world’s youngest minister when she took charge of the youth portfolio in 2016 at the age of 22, delivering a clear message about the values and interests the country cherishes. Omar Al Olama’s appointment as AI minister sent out an equally important signal that the UAE is committed to knowledge development and research. Both these appointments and the opening of institutions indicate that the country is not just willing, it is able to look outwards. Soft power also rarely thrives in environments where creativity is stifled.
That's why initiatives such as Arab Hope Makers which rewards exceptional endeavour, and the One Million Arab Coders programme, which seeks to inspire the next generation of software developers have been established. Both seek to crack open minds and encourage free-thinking. Soft power can also depend on the diaspora. Lebanese soft power, for instance, is projected through its large overseas community. We see it in the dynamism of their expatriate workers, in their networking skills and their creativity, especially in the Gulf. Bearing that in mind, one should, perhaps, return to the EDA. The diplomatic academy can undoubtedly help complete this country’s soft power jigsaw by training up the next generation of diplomats to be effective carriers of the national message. The UAE is fortunate to have a number of compelling communicators already working overseas, notably Ambassadors Yousef Al Otaiba, Lana Nusseibeh and Omar Saif Ghobash. The next cohort must continue their good work.
A bold newcomer
Every good story needs a good storyteller. The National was born in Abu Dhabi in the early hours of April 17, 2008 to inform, educate and, yes, to entertain its readers.
It was one of a series of high-profile projects to be launched around this time. They included the Formula One circuit at Yas Marina, Masdar City and the Saadiyat Island Cultural District that would begin with Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Collectively they represented a vision and a determination to show the world what the UAE could achieve.
It is a philosophy sometimes referred to as soft power, whereby this country, which is relatively small in numbers and territory, could become a leader on the international stage and a beacon of hope in a region where it has frequently been in short supply.
To give credibility to these lofty ambitions, The National would need to set itself the highest standards. There were those who doubted it could be done. The political climate of the Arab world was not conducive to real journalism, they said. Besides, newspapers were dying around the world. Who on earth would launch a new one?
Ten years later and The National is very much alive and kicking.
The first journalists began to arrive in the early days of 2008, recruited from such venerable institutions as The New York Times, the London Telegraph and Times, and The Wall Street Journal.
There was also a younger generation of reporters, many from the region, to add ambition and enthusiasm to the mix.
The editor-in-chief, Martin Newland, had previously held senior roles at the London Daily Telegraph and the National Post in Canada. His deputy, Hassan Fattah, was an Iraqi-American fresh from the Middle East bureau of The New York Times.
The paper was built and launched in barely 100 days, an achievement that still seems extraordinary 10 years later. A lecture theatre was pressed into service as temporary offices, on the campus of Emirates News, which was newly rebranded as Abu Dhabi Media.
Within a month, nearly 200 journalists had arrived and there was no longer anywhere to sit. A newsroom was completed by March. There were desks, but at first no chairs. The circular editorial conference table was missing its centre panel, and remained in that state until well past Ramadan.
A printing press was bought and installed, but with scarcely time to iron out the bugs, for there was to be no soft launch. A promise had been made that the paper would appear on April 17 and the great and the good gathered for a launch party the previous evening at the Emirates Palace hotel.
The real action was elsewhere, as editors and reporters put their final touches to the first edition. Anyone who was there that night will remember it was an evening filled with tension.
The print run was plagued with technical problems that stretched well in to the early hours of the next day.
And yet there they were, in time for a reviving cup of morning coffee – the first copies of The National, with the intoxicating aroma of fresh ink and new paper. And it has been there ever since.
There is neither time nor space here to tell the whole story since that first day. The paper’s first challenge was the financial crisis that struck before the year was out, with serious repercussions for Dubai. It has since navigated the Arab uprisings, seen Qaddafi’s demise and told the story of Syria’s tragic descent into civil war.
The National has followed the rise and fall of ISIS and the machinations of the Muslim Brotherhood in all of its guises.
It saw out the last months of the presidency of George W Bush, followed two terms of Barack Obama and now records the rollercoaster ride of Donald Trump.
It has explained the diplomatic isolation of Qatar and honoured those who fell in service of their country while restoring stability to Yemen.
The latter, and the solemn memorial at Wahat Al Karama, are reminders that soft power sometimes requires a harder edge.
The National has also been there for the moments of celebration. The opening of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and of the Dubai Metro. Through our reporting team, readers were given unprecedented access to the building of the extraordinary Louvre Abu Dhabi. On our comment pages, the insight, intelligence and wit of some of the foremost minds in the region have offered an unrivalled perspective on the pressing issues of our time.
The paper has brought insight to major issues such as the fight against diseases including malaria and polio, and the challenge of youth unemployment in the Arab World – both areas into which the UAE has invested considerable resources.
In late 2016 it was announced that The National would move to the private sector under International Media Investments.
The National has new offices at twofour54, and a new Editor-in-Chief, Mina Al-Oraibi, former Assistant Editor in Chief at the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, which was based in London.
The National has established a London bureau and a network of correspondents around the world.
These developments have brought fresh ideas and resources to The National, greatly strengthening its digital presence at a time when all news seems to be breaking, and when trust has become one of the foundations of responsible journalism.
Ten years after its launch, it is hard to imagine life without The National. For this we must offer thanks to all who have helped to make it the success it is today, and none more than you, our loyal readers.
Words: James Langton, Massoud Derhally, Nick March
Photographs: Andrew Henderson, Ravindranath, Chris Whiteoak, Mona Al Marzooqi, Christopher Pike, Antonie Robertson, Mike Young, Victor Besa, Manuel Salazar, Pawan Singh, Satish Kumar, Getty Images, Reuters, EPA
Video: Willy Lowry, Emmanuel Samoglou
Graphics: Alvaro Sanmarti
Editors: Mustafa Alrawi, Stephen Nelmes, Joe Jenkins
Photo Editor: Jake Badger
Copyright The National, Abu Dhabi, 2018