40 years of the UAE: Emiratis and expatriates alike are mesmerised as magical nine-minute light show portrays 'UAE's history and the vision of Sheikh Zayed'.
National Day light show 'resembles country's beauty'
ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi residents watched the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque light up with intricate designs on the first evening of the iconic location's National Day celebrations.
Floral designs, contrasting colours and Arabian shapes inspired by the country's heritage and culture covered every corner of the mosque as part of a light show to commemorate the country's 40th birthday.
Everybody was dazzled by the intricacy of the designs, which managed to precisely illuminate the mosque up to the tips of every dome and pillar.
"It is just spectacular how they were able to do it so perfectly," said Samah Mohammed. "This show is definitely a one-off. It resembles the country's beauty."
Ms Mohammed described the country's remarkable progress over the past 40 years as "magical".
"It is all because of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Zayed that we were able to make such accomplishments," the Emirati said.
The nine-minute show featured 12 scenes, from pentagonal shapes resembling the Founding President Sheikh Zayed's personal concept for the Mosque, to natural vines of flowers blooming from every corner, representing the renaissance of the country.
The show ended with a scene featuring a display of the moon cycles, which the Islamic calendar follows. The twinkling stars represented what once worked as navigation guides for the Bedouins to determine the direction of prayer, with projections of the Earth rising into the night sky.
Talal Al Mazrouei, the director of events and activities at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center and Ministry of Presidential Affairs, said work began on the show last month.
"The last scene is very important because it shows that the mosque welcomes all cultures and religions around the world," he said. "That is what this light show is about, the country's history and the vision of Sheikh Zayed. We have so many cultures here, but everyone lives together in peace and tolerance, and with respect to one another."
Among the country's major accomplishments, Mr Al Mazrouei said, is providing the community with safety and security.
"Do you lock your door when you leave your house?" he said. "If you don't, it's because of the safety granted through the hard work of our leadership.
"A man once told me that his son said 'I went to a country with many unlocked doors. Beyond those doors lied treasures, which remained untouched. This country is the UAE."
Expatriates also could not help but feel a sense of patriotism, as the mosque was lit up in an array of beautiful colours.
"Establishing themselves as a global force in just 40 years is amazing," said Josh Luukkonen, from the United States.
Marina Kachis, from South Africa, said the patriotism is almost contagious.
"You don't see many countries celebrating the same way the UAE does," she said. "Being part of the celebration makes you feel more patriotic."
Wayne English, also from South Africa, was equally amazed and inspired by the country's spirit.
"Back home, we celebrate everything, whether it's Christmas, Easter, birthdays, etc," he said. "Here, they do it only once - during National Day. There are the religious holidays, but there's a sense of reverence around Eid. National Day is more of a time they go all out."
Both men and women are equally responsible for the country's great progress, said Emirati engineer Hessa Al Khaledi.
"Without Her Highness Sheikha Fatima, Emirati women wouldn't be where they are today. Look around and ask yourself, 'how can a country grow this quickly?'" she said.
"It's because of the vision, ambition and determination of our leadership who always thought about our country first."
The show runs until December 3, from 6.30 until 12.45am at half- hour intervals.