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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

UAE National Day marked in London

Guests were entertained by live traditional Arabic music and performances at the Natural History Museum

Hundreds gathered in the Natural History Museum in London to celebrate the 46th National Day of the UAE. Photo by Sanya Burgess
Hundreds gathered in the Natural History Museum in London to celebrate the 46th National Day of the UAE. Photo by Sanya Burgess

Hundreds gathered in the auspicious setting of London's Natural History Museum on Wednesday to celebrate UAE National Day.

Sulaiman Hamid Salem Al Mazroui, UAE Ambassador to the UK, was joined by Alistair Burt, the UK's minister of state for the Middle East and North Africa, to mark the historic moment 46 years ago when the seven Emirates joined together.

Guests were entertained not just by the splendid surroundings - which included the recently installed "Hope", the blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling - but also enjoyed live traditional Arabic music, yola dancers, a military band and performances from Faissal Jassim and Oxford Maqam throughout the evening.

Mr Al Mazroui welcomed the distinguished guests to the night’s events and to the celebrations of National Day.

He highlighted the forward-looking nature of the UAE as he told the audience to focus on 2071, rather than 2017.

“In the UAE we believe in planning for the future. The UAE Centennial 2071 is our plan to ensure that our country is equipped to compete with the rest of the world over the next half century,” he said, adding that this will be achieved by educating and empowering people.

He praised the new generation of young Emiratis and highlighted how the future will be in their hands. The ambassador also reflected on the UAE’s successful steps forward in culture, humanitarian work and in building strong relationships with other countries, including the UK.

Addressing the audience after the ambassador had spoken, Mr Burt remarked: “There is a lot to celebrate in the friendship between our two nations.”

He reflected on what he termed “a wonderful year for our creative and cultural links with the UK-UAE Year of Creative Collaboration”.

The cultural push was launched at the beautiful Al Jahili Fort under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and The Prince of Wales and has brought together about 100 Emirati and British institutions to deliver events across all seven Emirates, reaching more than 150,000 people.

Mr Burt also highlighted the strong investment and trade connections between the two nations, saying: “We are excited about the UAE’s future as a global leader of trade, and we are committed to strengthening the strong trade and investment relationship our countries share.”

The value of trade between the UK and the UAE was £14.6 billion last year, an increase of 13 per cent from the year before. There is a target of £25 billion by 2020.

The two countries have also worked together in tackling terrorism and in the fight to eradicate poverty, with Mr Burt drawing attention to the Hedayah, the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism in Abu Dhabi, which the UK has supported through funding and the secondment of British expertise.

Mr Burt said: “I look forward to seeing what 2018 brings for the friendship between the UK and the UAE. I send my warmest wishes to everyone here, and across the United Arab Emirates, for a happy National Day.”

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