Students highlight heritage at university celebrations of National Day
ABU DHABI // Students across the country took a break from their books on Wednesday and united for a common cause – the celebration of National Day.
University courtyards were transformed into souqs, while traditional dances were performed and odes were recited to the founding President, Sheikh Zayed.
Unity was a common theme – the union of the emirates and of different cultures and people.
“This event is a chance for everyone in the university, national and non-national, to celebrate this National Day of the United Arab Emirates and feel the group work to make it amazing and much bigger than every year before,” said Egyptian Nahla Rizk, 22.
She was born and raised in the UAE and studies biomedical engineering at Khalifa University.
“Everyone in the UAE loves the UAE and they love celebrating this day even if they are not national students,” she said.
Ms Rizk spent Dh200 on ingredients for a large batch of koshari, an Egyptian dish. She served it at the souq set up at the Khalifa University campus.
“This is a very popular meal over here,” Ms Rizk said, as students lined up for hot bowls. “It’s a gift for them on National Day because I want to share their experience, the happiness around everywhere. I want to make this day better in the way I can.”
Students at Khalifa University’s festivities also snacked on lgmat, a sweet dessert similar to a honey doughnut, and a variety of flatbread from Dibba.
The campus’s souq also sold colourful and traditional handmade dresses. At one stall, two elders sat on carpets weaving baskets, while at another, young ladies painted hands with henna.
Honouring tradition was at the heart of the university’s celebration, with students converting the third floor into a scene from the 1940s, with music, games and traditional practices on display.
One exhibit, Upside Down, involved getting in a lift that had been transformed into a time machine showcasing the UAE’s heritage.
“The young generation, they don’t know their traditions, so here we want to teach them,” said Emirati Nouf Al Ammari, 19, an electronic engineering student.
“We want to tell them that even though we’re developing and we have technology, we still have our values, we still have our traditions.”
Another electronic engineering student, Emirati Amna Al Jarwam, 18, said: “You can’t have a future if you don’t have a past, that’s a saying by Sheikh Zayed.
“We are developing fast so we are forgetting what we used to be like.”
At Abu Dhabi University, schoolchildren dressed in Emirati clothes and traditional music played.
Cheers broke out when young men performed the beloved yolla dance, wooden sticks in hand.
As they crouched down, pumped their chests and bobbed their heads, their sticks held high, the crowd erupted in applause.
“It was a really great celebration,” said Emirati Elyazia Al Yaaqoobi, 22, who studies environmental science. “Especially the yolla, the traditional dancing, the music, the performance was really great.
“I felt pride for being a national person and belonging to this country.”
Updated: November 27, 2013 04:00 AM