06 Sep 2014

HRH Princess Haya Made Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour

Monsieur le Ministre,

Mesdames et Messieurs les Parlementaires,

Mesdames et Messieurs les Elus,

Mesdames et Messieurs les Autorités Civiles et Militaires,

Your Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan,

Your Excellencies,

My Dear IOC Fellows, Mr Tsunekazu Takeda and Mr Toni Khoury,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,


I am honoured to be here.

This recognition carries special significance for me because of the longstanding connections between France and the UAE— connections built on shared commitments to peace, social justice and respect for the dignity of all people. I especially want to mention His Highness Doctor Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the Emirates Equestrian Federation, who is also with us today to share this historic event. 

The UAE and France have an exceptionally special and strong relationship. Our two peoples share links on almost every level — be it economic, cultural, academic, scientific or linguistic.

We are France’s top trading partner in the Middle East, accounting for a third of all French exports to the region. And beyond the economic and commercial angles, our cultural, academic and artistic collaboration has yielded some very special partnerships, such as The Sorbonne, the Louvre, L’Ecole National des Ponts et Chaussees, and so many more.

Against that backdrop, it is not surprising that your beautiful French language is taught in more than 200 schools throughout the UAE – and that we have three Alliances Francaises. Our relationship is set to grow, deeper and stronger as there is much that binds us.  

We share similar values and worldviews. We both believe in the importance of fostering peace in the Middle East, and we have jointly worked together towards that goal. We also share the conviction about the power of partnerships; and though we are each unique in our own right, it is only through coming together that we can truly and surely advance.

As we face ever more complex challenges, which now transcend national and traditional boundaries, these links between us have never been more important.

My husband, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “Connected thinking is the best hope for progress and for successful and peaceful existence in the generations to come.”

And it is precisely these connections, these meeting points between people and ideas – that contributed to Dubai’s success. And it is these connections which motivated an international membership in Paris to overwhelmingly elect Dubai to host the World Exposition in 2020.

In this era of entrenched globalisation, when our fates are invariably intertwined, it is only through a vision of connectivity based on shared purpose and commitment that progress can be made.

To realise this aspiration, Dubai Expo 2020 will be a platform of connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for long-term sustainable and equitable solutions for all. We, in Dubai, are committed to playing our role in the global community of nations, alongside partners and friends such as you.

All of these connections have been on my mind since I learned of the decision that has brought us here today.

And so I stand before you, accepting this honour, with the greatest humility, knowing that it is not really mine to accept.

Everything I have accomplished in my life, in every sphere of my work, has been accomplished with inspiration from my parents, Their Majesties the Late King Hussein and Queen Alia, and direct assistance from many others. That list has to start with my husband, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, whose vision of leadership and dedication to public service has been my guidepost.

There are many others who deserve to share this recognition.

I accept this honour on behalf of all of my colleagues at the Federation Equestre Internationale and everyone who contributed to the success of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, including the 3,000 French volunteers and the wonderful people of this region, who welcomed the equestrian world to their home.

I accept this honor on behalf of the dedicated humanitarian aid workers that I encounter in my travels as a UN Messenger of Peace — the selfless healthcare workers from Medecins San Frontieres, the humanitarians from the World Food Program, and so many other committed people who serve those in need long after I have returned to the comforts of my home.

I accept this honour knowing that I have done so little to earn it but inspired to do more in my limited capacity to advocate for a more equitable, more compassionate and a more peaceful future.

I am deeply grateful.

Thank you.