x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Celebrations reflected spirit of the union

The signs and flags will come down, packed away for 2014, but the “Spirit of the Union” will live on throughout the year.

Last night saw the culmination of celebrations for the UAE’s 42nd annual National Day. And what a party it was.

In the lead-up to the anniversary, starting with Flag Day on November 6, there was a great deal of reflection on the past. Tributes were paid to the wisdom and foresight of the nation’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed, and to the present leaders who have built on such strong foundations. It was also a time for looking towards an even brighter future, of economic, social and cultural milestones to come.

Last week’s announcement of Dubai as host city for Expo 2020 accentuated those feelings perfectly.

But yesterday, National Day itself, was given over to sheer celebration. The joy of those participating in the festivities – both organised and spontaneous – was palpable across the UAE.

There were parades of cars painted in national colours and adorned with images of the nation’s leaders; children, their faces painted red, green, white and black, waved flags and balloons; whistles were blown; and fireworks exploded over the waterfront.

Naturally, Emiratis led the way: people taking joyous pride in their collective identity and in the great achievements of their nation.

But it was also a day of celebration for the many expatriates who have been a part of the success of this nation, have forged strong friendships here and have embraced the UAE’s culture and traditions.

As columnist Faisal Al Yafai noted in The National yesterday, the UAE has become a magnet, especially for young Arabs, because it offers opportunity, stability, security and the rule of law – all very good reasons to celebrate.

This morning, we acknowledge everyone who celebrated. We are also grateful to those who cleaned up afterwards, to those who worked behind the scenes to make it all happen in the first place and to the police and other officials who cheerfully ensured that the exuberance of the moment did not get out of hand.

The signs and flags will come down, packed away for 2014, but the “Spirit of the Union” will live on throughout the year.