People watch fireworks illuminate the sky in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Dec. 2. (Ali Haider/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

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.