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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Hundreds celebrate UAE National Day in London

Culture was high on the agenda as dignitaries gathered in London's Victoria & Albert museum

Alistair Burt, Britain's minister for the Middle East speaks at the UAE's National Day celebrations in London. The National
Alistair Burt, Britain's minister for the Middle East speaks at the UAE's National Day celebrations in London. The National

Hundreds of dignitaries gathered in London’s Victoria & Albert museum on Thursday night to celebrate the UAE’s 47th national day.

The celebration of the UAE’s founding was hosted by Sulaiman Hamid Salem Al Mazroui, UAE Ambassador to London, with Britain’s Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt giving a speech praising the close relations of the UAE and the UK.

The V&A museum, one of London’s largest, is home to one of the most significant collections of cultural heritage artefacts in the world. Between its colonnades screens were mounted that bore video images drawn from the 47 years of the country’s existence. The venue was a fitting place to celebrate National day, the cultural relations between London and Abu Dhabi which, this year, have reached new heights.

“Hopefully this embassy will continue the same tradition of appreciating arts and culture for the years to come,” said Mr Al Mazroui.

This year’s celebration took on even greater importance, as 2018 has been labelled the year of Zayed, marking 100 years since the birth of the UAE’s founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Culture has been a big part of the agenda between the two countries in recent years.

In June, the British Museum renamed one of its most prestigious gallery’s after Sheikh Zayed, whilst in February saw the Abu Dhabi festival collaborate on an operatic performance of Carmen at London’s world famous Royal Opera House. Culture, it seems, has become a fulcrum of the two countries’ relationship.

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Mr Al Mazroui recalled Sheikh Zayed’s legacy, laying the foundation for the modern Emirati state.

“The late Sheikh Zayed was renowned for his wisdom and vision, his policies shaped our country, establishing the rule of law and social justice, strengthening our economy, national security, and international relations, promoting education, culture, female empowerment and scientific progress and by doing so leading our path towards a prosperous future”.

“We are much more than just a tourist, business and academic destination. The values of Sheikh Zayed lay the foundation for our leadership to put in place a policy of openness and engagement with the outside world,” he added.

Alistair Burt spokes of the close links between Britain and the UAE. “We are very proud of the over 120,000 people from the United Kingdom who have chosen to make their home for a period of time in the UAE”.

There are more than 5,000 Emiratis in the UK

He also praised the firm foundations on which the British and Emirati relationship was built.

“We are pleased that so many people visit and pass between the place, and we are pleased at the relationships that people make between themselves in business, culture and the arts it forms the foundation of a relationship between states, the relationship between states can occasionally be more complex, but if the relationship is built on the friendships that people have then we can be absolutely sure it is on firm foundations, and this relationship your excellency certainly is.”

Dozens of ambassadors from across the world joined in the celebrations, while Tobias Ellwood, minister for Defence, People and Veterans and Jeff Smith MP for Manchester were also in attendance.