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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Flag Day is a time to celebrate and reflect

The country's flag projects important messages about the nation and its core principles

The Flag Garden on Kite Beach, Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
The Flag Garden on Kite Beach, Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National

At 11am tomorrow, people from all walks of life will mark Flag Day in the UAE, which commemorates the accession of Sheikh Khalifa as President. Flag Day was introduced in 2013 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and is traditionally celebrated on November 3. This year, however, the Ministry of Cabinet and the Future announced that the UAE flag would be raised in celebration on Thursday. As The National reported, the Government has called for a show of unity, patriotism and loyalty to the Emirates and its leadership.

Tomorrow is a moment for celebration and commemoration, to remember the extraordinary piece of nation-building undertaken almost 46 years ago by the late Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s Founding Father, and to celebrate the country as it is today under Sheikh Khalifa, the President.

Just like the lyrics to the national anthem Ishy Biladi (Long Live My Nation), the UAE’s flag radiates important messages about the country and its core principles. The flag itself was designed by Abdullah Mohammad Al Maainah, who was then just a teenager. His submission beat more than 1,000 other entries in a competition to design the ensign for a fledgling country. Mr Al Maainah was unaware his entry had won until the day of union itself, when he saw the flag fluttering inside the grounds of Mushrif Palace. Only two flags were raised in December 1971, one at the palace in Abu Dhabi, the other at Union House in Dubai. Hundreds of thousands of flags, probably more, will be raised today.

We see the country’s core principles in the flag. Its red band symbolises unity, its green, white and black stripes represent hope, peace and power respectively. The modern UAE remains true to those values today. The country’s leadership understands the power in union. The nation itself is a beacon of hope in the Middle East. The Government is unbending in its belief in diplomacy and discourse abroad and its commitment to a peaceful and just society at home. All of that sends a powerful message to the world. The UAE is, as Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said earlier this year, “a light” that illuminates a region that is too often roiled by chaos. The country’s leadership is determined to build the best possible future for all who live here and, on the occasion of Flag Day, there is, it is fair to say, much to celebrate.