x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

The Ali Column: Why we celebrate National Day

The reasons behind the UAE's annual special day.

Long live my country. On Sunday, we celebrate the greatest moment of the UAE's history, National Day. Our country is one of the youngest in the world, and a great example of a modern Arab nation.

I have to start by saying "Alhamdulillah" - thanks to God for the greatest gift that he gifted our land, our beloved founder Sheikh Zayed.

Whenever I celebrate National Day, I like to think of the tough times faced by our ancestors, who believed in the vision of our founding leaders and helped to bring about the life we have now.

Our country has been united since December 2, 1971. Then, Emiratis received a clearer sense of belonging, an identity and a "stable home". Being thankful for what our leaders have provided us with plays a major role in honouring them on National Day.

Sheikh Zayed's vision to improve our lives, especially medically, educationally, economically and politically, was implemented from day one. It brought so many changes for our people. For many, this meant moving from mud huts in the middle of the desert to an air-conditioned apartment in a growing city, as well as the transformation of a tribal to a modern global society due to the massive investment in the infrastructure.

Our country is unique in so many ways. We are the youngest united country with our seven different sheikhdoms, our Islamic religion and the fact that our country is a peaceful home for so many different nationalities. We are proud of our past and the harmony that exists in our country because of it. This "spirit of the union" holds us together, and we want to pass it on to the next generations, to inspire them both to fulfill their personal dreams and loyalty to their national and cultural heritage.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched an initiative to plant "union trees" in each house, apartment block and workplace. These trees symbolise many of our predominant national values, such as prosperity, wisdom, strength, pride as well as love and responsibility towards nature. The initiative is aimed at spreading "the spirit of the union" to every resident across the country as does the "Fog Baitina Alam" campaign (see q&a below), which encourages every household in the UAE to raise the UAE flag.

So on Sunday, let's celebrate our unity, diversity and successful development with gratitude and peace.