x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 August 2017

UAE cadets graduate from prestigious Sandhurst academy

Jordan's King Abdullah II, presented awards and gave a rousing speech to the graduates

Today was a proud day for the UAE as one of its officer cadets graduated from Britain's Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst with honours.

Ahmed Sohail Faris Al Mazrui, 23, was presented with the international sword by Jordan's King Abdullah II, awarded for excellence.

Watching in the crowd was his twin sister, Shamma Bint Sohail Faris Al Mazrui, who in February last year became the world’s youngest government minister when she was appointed the UAE's Minister of State for Youth, aged 22.

She was joined by her father, uncle and other UAE dignitaries to watch Sandhurst's newly graduated officers complete their passing out ceremony.

Al Mazrui was one of five UAE cadets who graduated from Sandhurst today, continuing the country's long association with the world-class military college.

He was one of only eight officer cadets to receive formal recognition for excellence - and was also the only UAE national to be honoured.

His sister said: "[I am] full of joy and pride for my brother Ahmed for winning the international Sandhurst sword of honor. This is an honour for all of us. Today, Sandhurst military academy honours his hard work, perseverance and determination.

"Congratulations to all five Emirati youth on their graduation. Their grit and valour are how we build a great nation. The future is youth. The courage, values and leadership of UAE Sandhurst military academy graduates represent Emirati Youth building our tomorrow."

The academy's prestigious Sovereign Parade was a day of tradition and pageantry, showcasing the precision long associated with its prestigious reputation.

After a rain-soaked rehearsal on Wednesday, those taking part were relieved to see the clouds giving way to blue skies and brilliant sunshine this morning - a fitting day to end the cadets' year-long training.

His Majesty was not only there in his capacity of representing Queen Elizabeth II, but also to witness the graduation of his own son, Jordan's Crown Prince Hussein.

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The event gave him the opportunity to reflect on his own days at Sandhurst, which he attended in the late 1980s.

Addressing the parade, his words resonated with the outgoing cadets.

He told spectators: "It's not the first time I've had the privilege to attend Sovereign's Parade.

"Many years ago, I was a cadet standing where you are now.

"The memories of that day have stayed with me, making it a distinct pleasure to address today's cadets and academy staff, their families, friends and distinguished guests who join us.

"My first hand experience also allows me to have a fair idea of what is occupying the minds of those present.

"The commandant and the staff are thinking: 'Well, it's been a great day, so far.' They're hoping my speech doesn't rain on the parade.

King Abdullah II of Jordan attends the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Eamonn McCormack / Getty Images

"The graduating cadets are thinking: 'Hurry it up along, sir'. They want to get up those steps.

"The parents are thinking: 'No, don't rush the tributes to our sons and daughters.' Nothing could be a prouder moment for the families and friends of these fine cadets. And I should know: my son Hussein is one of them."

While acknowledging the ceremony's impressive display of military pageantry, King Abdullah also reminded spectators of the foundations upon which it is based.

He added: "The rest of us must not forget what lies behind this impressive performance.

"That is, the iron self discipline and the mutual support on which great soldiering depends.

"Nowhere is this taught more effectively, than here at the RMA. Because - as a Sandhurst soldier recognises - one cannot lead, unless one serves.

"You young officers have chosen a noble career of service. Wherever you go and whatever challenges you'll face, you'll stand as examples of duty, honour and resolve”.

Reminding the newly graduated officers of their "huge and, at times, daunting responsibilities", King Abdullah told them they must strive to be the best.

"Always act in a way you can be proud of," he added. "Not every day will be a good one. You will not win every battle.

"But however many times you get knocked down in life, you can - and must - get up again. In this profession of ours, you are now where the buck stops.

"You are graduating because people believed in you. You must now believe in yourself and rise to the challenges ahead.

"However difficult, do what is right, be confident in what your instructors have taught you and take strength from your family and faith."

The king's address was met with rapturous applause. And in the spectator stands, the pride was palpable among the UAE contingent.

Sulaiman Al Mazroui, the UAE ambassador to the UK, described it as a proud day for the UAE.

He said: "Five of our cadets graduated today, and particularly Cadet Ahmed Al Mazrui was awarded the sword.

"It really makes me proud as an ambassador here, and makes us feel proud to have a citizen who can actually attend such a great, well-reputed academy and graduate with flying colours."

He added that the event had the added bonus of strengthening ties between the UAE and UK, particularly where the military is concerned.

"[The UK and UAE] have been together for a long time, on all kinds of aspects: military, economy, political areas.

"On the military side there are stronger ties between the two countries, and they are growing as time passes.

"Long may these strong relations between our two countries continue."