x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Celebrations for Sheikh Zayed

Birth of the UAE November 28-30, 1971

Pipers from the Abu Dhabi Defence Force march down the Corniche.
Bruno Barbey / Magnum Photos
Pipers from the Abu Dhabi Defence Force march down the Corniche. Bruno Barbey / Magnum Photos

As a prelude to the birth of the country, three days of celebrations marking the fifth anniversary of Sheikh Zayed's rule begin in Abu Dhabi, with a military parade along the Corniche, feasting, music and poetry as well as camel and horse racing. The highlight is two performances by the legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum at a concert hall built for the occasion. According to Al Ittihad, after receiving guests at Al Manhal Palace, Sheikh Zayed visits the building sites of many projects that become the bedrock of modern Abu Dhabi: the breakwater project, the Hilton Hotel and the building of the first tarmac road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to name a few.

The following is based on the schedule of events for November 28 and 29 as published in Al Ittihad.


November 28

9.45am According to the published itinerary, "his Greatness the State Ruler, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan" arrives at a celebration platform on Corniche Street near the Ministry of Education building.


9.55am Sheikh Zayed gives his opening speech.


10am A military parade then follows after which "the State Ruler will head to Al Manhal Palace to receive guests, delegations and UAE citizens, and will attend a ceremony where songs will be performed and poems will be chanted in his honour".


1.30pm "His Greatness the State Ruler will throw a lunch banquet in honour of guests and delegations who will come to greet him."


4pm Sheikh Zayed leaves Al Manhal Palace for the horse-racing course.


4.15pm "His Greatness the State Ruler will reach the horse-racing course."


4.30pm Racing begins.


6pm A fireworks display takes place in front of Al Manhal Palace to a backdrop of music performed by an army band.


10pm Sheikh Zayed leaves the palace for the first concert by Umm Kulthum.


10.30pm Umm Kulthum's concert begins "under the patronage of his Greatness the State Ruler".


November 29

8.20am "His Greatness the State Ruler will leave the palace," Al Ittihad reports. A busy day lies ahead, laying the foundations of the modern city.


8.30am Sheikh Zayed arrives at the new Ministry of Water and Electricity, leaving at 9am for the breakwater construction project.


9.15am Sheikh Zayed inaugurates construction of the breakwater.


10.15am "His Greatness the State Ruler will head to the inner road project."


10.30am The ceremony takes place near a roundabout adjacent to Al Shatea Hotel.


10.50am The ruler departs for the site of the new Hilton Hotel in Abu Dhabi.


11am Arriving at the site, Sheikh Zayed officially launches construction of the Hilton Hotel, on what at the time is a beach reached by a sand track.


11.30am "His Greatness the State Ruler will head to the television studios."


11.45am Arriving at the site, now part of Abu Dhabi Media Company, Sheikh Zayed lays a foundation stone.


12.15pm Sheikh Zayed inaugurates the professional training centre building.


12.45pm The next foundation stone to be laid is for the police college.


4.15pm After a well-deserved break, Sheikh Zayed returns to the race course.


4.30pm Camel-racing begins.

8pm Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the Crown Prince, will hold an evening banquet to honour guests and visiting delegations.


9.20pm Sheikh Zayed arrives for the second concert of the week, at the radio theatre.

Al Ittihad reports that this concert features other Arab stars, including the Tunisian singer Alia Hoyam Younis, the dancer Suheer Zaki, Kuwaiti singer Mostapha Ahmed and the Bahraini singer Ibrahim Habeeb.


9.30pm "His Greatness the State Ruler will attend the art festival to be organised by the Ministry of Information and Tourism in honour of His Greatness the State Ruler as part of celebrations of the Accession Day."


Other royal duties

A busy schedule gets busier. Sheikh Zayed finds time in his schedule to inaugurate several other projects, the most significant of which is the Abu Dhabi to Dubai Road, first proposed in 1968.

In addition, foundation stones are laid for the road from Abu Dhabi to Qatar and the expansion of the airport project.

The Ruler or his representative also visit junior high schools in the Al Zaab area of the city, on Al Falah Street, public housing projects in the same area and the Indian Social and Cultural Centre.


November 30

Sheikh Zayed receives Umm Kulthum in his palace along with her companions and singers. In attendance is his adviser, Ahmed al Suwaidi.

Umm Kulthum performs a second concert as a charity event, raising money for "Arab military efforts".