x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

1990: the day they answered their country's call

40 years of the UAE: Eleven years ago, 25 volunteers earned their place in the UAE's military.

Twenty-five volunteers stood in uniform outside Zayed Military City on October 2, 1990, waiting for Sheikh Zayed, the President and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

These Emirati men were among the eager civilians who needed only hear the country's call once to step up immediately.

And after a six-week training course, with theory and practice on all types of weapons and equipment, they were ready to graduate as one of the first batches of volunteers.

At 5.15pm, Sheikh Zayed arrived to be greeted by his son, Sheikh Khalifa - Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the time.

The national anthem erupted from every speaker and everyone stood.

After the recitation of Quranic verses, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who in addition to his other titles was and remains the Minister of Defence, congratulated the "noble" men who helped their country.

Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan was one of the volunteers.

"I assure you that the call to volunteer was a great opportunity for us to confirm our faith and show our loyalty and support of our wise leadership," Sheikh Sultan said.

"And we sped to the field of honour and chivalry to confirm that we will protect this land, whatever the sacrifices."

After the speeches, Sheikh Zayed handed the 25 volunteers their certificates.

* Ola Salem