x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Hug an Australian Day? I Forgot Day? The world days that have gone too far

With days to mark everything from protecting the environment to penguins, most people say such events are losing their impact.

Ski Dubai celebrated this year's World Penguin Day. Sarah Dea / The National
Ski Dubai celebrated this year's World Penguin Day. Sarah Dea / The National

DUBAI // UAE employers should be warned that Tuesday is World Zipper Day, and that any worker taking sick leave may be skiving to celebrate Swedish-American inventor Gideon Sundback’s clothes fastener. Or not.

For most people it will be just another “World Day”, the phenomenon rapidly filling up every space on the calendar.

They include days dedicated to spreading crucial awareness messages, such as Pink Ribbon Day for breast cancer and Earth Day for the environment.

They also include International Talk Like a Pirate Day (which, for those who care, this year takes place on September 19).

But many say the days carrying the most important messages are losing their impact because of the sillier occasions.

“These kinds of things can be a good way to get people thinking about an important issue but I feel every day seems like it is marking something or other these days,” said Dubai resident Ted Mckenzie, from the UK.

“I tend to remember the main ones but the others completely go over my head. I’m not too sure it’s worth having so many of these world days, as they lose their importance and value.”

Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates has been encouraging visitors to meet its resident penguins with all proceeds from Thursday, World Penguin Day, to be donated to penguin research at Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute in the US.

“I had no idea there was even such a thing as World Penguin Day,” said Jessica Costa, from Australia. “It’s great that they want to raise awareness about such things but I don’t think most people even register it.”

There are also lesser-known days such as World Intellectual Property Day, on Saturdayday, which is being celebrated by Dubai Customs on Sunday.

Other days with a serious message that needs to be put across include World Down Syndrome Day, held every year on March 21, and World Autism Awareness Day, on April 2.

Charities and organisations in the UAE use these days to raise awareness of the conditions and bring them to the attention of the community.

On a local level, Dubai Municipality encourages its staff and other businesses to use public transport on Car-Free Day each February 19.

International Museum Day takes place on May 18 and, as part of the celebrations, the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation will present Sky Over the East: Works from the Collection of Barjeel Art Foundation at Emirates Palace Gallery from May 29 to June 27.

“To be honest, I ignore all of this kind of thing,” said Farouq Ali, from Pakistan. “On many occasions it’s just some business linking itself to some kind of event in the hope that it will get more publicity for them.

“The only dates I worry about are birthdays, Eid and UAE National Day, because we sometimes get days off work for that.”

But despite a calendar full of special days to mark, the UAE could actually be getting off lightly.

Elsewhere in the world people are taking up the cause to celebrate Hug an Australian Day on Saturday.

And if you have ever forgotten a birthday or anniversary, there is a day for you – I Forgot Day is on July 2.

nhanif@thenational.ae