Abu Dhabi: UAE rulers, shaikhs, dignitaries and guests gathered in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday for the inauguration of the memorial site, Wahat Al Karama (Oasis of Dignity), to honour the UAE’s heroes.
The event started with the entrance of Their Highnesses to the Memorial Plaza, accompanied by a 21-gun salute, followed by the laying of wreaths at the memorial. Minister of Foreign Affairs Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan also gave a speech.
Family members of fallen UAE heroes were also presented with medals by Their Highnesses to honour their sacrifice to the nation.
The site covers an area of 46,000 square metres, symbolically located between the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the General Headquarters of the UAE Armed Forces. Wahat Al Karama is open to the public 24 hours a day.
Wahat Al Karama is considered a cultural landmark that reflects the UAE’s pride in the sacrifices made by its heroes and where the values of dignity, unity and solidarity for the sake of the nation are enshrined, making it a true oasis of honour.
The site would immortalise the heroes’ memory, and forever bear witness to their sacrifices, inspiring future generations of young Emiratis to adhere to their country’s national values.
The memorial consists of 31 metal panels, each leaning on the other, in an expression of strength, mutual support and solidarity, reflecting the unbreakable bond between the UAE’s leadership, its people, and those who sacrificed their lives for the country.
Engraved on the panels of the memorial are poems written by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, as well as the memorial’s long supportive spine which bears the pledge of allegiance of the UAE Armed Forces.
The memorial also features a Pavilion of Honour, which contains the names of each of the UAE’s heroes since the time of the country’s unification in 1971. Each hero’s name is displayed on an illuminated panel made from aluminium reclaimed from Armed Forces vehicles.
The site includes the Memorial Plaza, a large open area of over 4,000 square metres which will host the annual Commemoration Day ceremony. A circular pool of water, 15mm deep, occupies the centre of the Memorial Plaza. The pool provides a unique reflection of the Mosque and also the Memorial’s panels.
Mariam Nabeel, a guide from the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority, explained the idea behind the Pavilion of Honour and what it meant to signify.
“This area has the names of all 196 martyrs and it goes from right to left. The material of the wall is made from aluminium. Going around the pavilion, above the walls are verses from the Quran and this is meant to show that our martyrs will be in paradise. The aluminium itself was brought from China and Australia,” she said.
“In the middle of the pavilion, we also have placed big anti-reflective glass pieces that contain the country’s military pledge of allegiance on them, each glass weighs 1.2 tonnes and the oaths signify the heroes who have reflected the pledge’s words in their actions and sacrifices. There are a total of seven glass pieces to once again reflect the seven emirates,” she added.
Nabeel said that visitors who come to the monument could feel a sense of pride.
“The pavilion represents both peace and pride, the visitor can feel proud of the UAE heroes for what they have done for their country and they can contemplate the sacrifices that have been made by our heroes for us and our country. The pavilion also represents our traditions, culture, and religion — on the entrance wall of the pavilion is the first chapter of the Quran, and so we believed that it was important to link all of these concepts together because they represent the UAE and what our heroes stood for.”
Martyrs' memorial to be built in Dubai
Meanwhile, a martyrs’ memorial will be set up in Dubai and completed in November 2017, in time for the next year’s Commemoration Day.
The orders to establish the memorial were issued on Wednesday by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Shaikh Mohammad said that the memorial must be fitting for the martyrs’ great sacrifices, immortalising their memory and elevating the status of martyrdom for the sake of the nation in the spirits of future generations.
“Immortalising Emirati martyrs is an immortalisation of the strength and sacrifice of the people of the UAE. We are a people who do not fear presenting our dearest children as martyrs for our dearest land,” said Shaikh Mohammad.