Dubai: Flag-raising, folk shows, and festivities kicked of the UAE National Day ceremony on Thursday morning at Expo 2020 Dubai, attracting ministers, diplomats and Expo visitors.
Thrilling the spectators who gathered for the ceremony at the heart of Expo – the centrally-located Al Wasl Plaza – the celebrations mainly took place on the Stage of Nations. The ceremony was held in the presence of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner-General, Expo 2020 Dubai; Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General, Expo 2020 Dubai; ambassadors, consuls and commissioner generals of participating countries as well as crowds of visitors.
This National Day (December 2) is doubly special as it celebrates 50 years of the founding of the UAE, which is celebrating its Golden Jubilee under the theme of the ‘Year of the 50th’, announced earlier by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The UAE was formed by the unification of the seven emirates, led by the country’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
‘Hope for all’
On Thursday, National Day, the celebrations began with a flag-raising ceremony at Al Wasl Plaza, beneath the dome at Expo, followed by a speech by Sheikh Nahyan.
Sheikh Nahyan said: “Together we are peers, and partners, and pioneers in overcoming shared adversity to deliver on our solemn commitment to a World Exposition that offers hope and optimism for all.
“Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, the United Arab Emirates has never wavered in the fulfilment of that promise, nor the honouring of its founding principles, prominent among them the values of tolerance and openness, the preservation of rights and the enshrining of human dignity for all.
“Our philosophy is that good neighbourliness is the basis of genuine stability, from which growth and development will necessarily flow. Our globalised present and increasingly interconnected future means that you are all our neighbour, a prospect that inspires us as we launch towards another half-century of peaceful, reliable, and invaluable cooperation and collaboration.”
Following the speech were recitals by acclaimed poet Al Azi. There was also a traditional dance performance with 60 Emirati men from all seven emirates.
From 10.45am to 11.30 am, the Ministry of Interior Police Marching Band performed a march from Horizon Avenue to Sea Plaza. ‘Colours of the World Parade’ was held at Ghaf Avenue between 12.45pm to 1.15pm.
At 1pm there was another performance of Al Azi at Al Wasl Plaza. This time also the Arabic poet led a chorus. The Dubai Police performed a gravity-defying aerial show, and a flyover display by the UAE Air Force aerobatics team Al Fursan was to be held later in the day.
Emirati singer Fatima Zahrat took to the stage to perform a Music in the Garden in Al Wasl Plaza.
At 4pm, 5pm and 6pm, a live stage show ‘Journey of a Thread’ was scheduled to be held at Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre in the Al Forsan Zone. This show takes place every day during the National Day weekend.
Fireworks are set for 8pm over Al Wasl Avenue on all four days of the National Day weekend.
Earlier in the day, there was a special opening of Sustainability Gate by members of the Emirates Writers Union, which also marked the launch of a new initiative.
Nahla AlMheiri, Director, Creative Management, Events and Entertainment, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “This initiative celebrates the writers who are part of the success of the UAE. They are our main resource to create our vision and our visuals at Expo – so they are part of our success. They are part of documenting the story of Expo. They write our stories and tell our stories to the world. Having them here on this significant day is an affirmation of the importance of culture and science.”
Writer Amna Alshamsi said: “I am very proud to be one of the storytellers from the UAE chosen to speak on such a special day. I’m very lucky to be here.”
Poet AlHanouf Mohammed, said: “I feel like I’m flying today, as it’s my National Day. Being at Expo is breathtaking, which is why I’m smiling.”
Well wishes by pavilions
Yooseok Ahn, Pavilion Director of Korea Pavilion, said: “Congratulations for Golden Jubilee of UAE! From desert to space, the UAE’s miracle is stunning. [It is a] great honour to be in this historical moment with you.”
Aboubaker Hassan Barreh, Deputy Commissioner General of the Djibouti Pavilion, said: “I would like to convey my warmest congratulations and best wishes to the leaders and people of UAE on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of UAE National Day. The UAE should be proud of their incredible achievements during these five decades. May Allah bless this country with peace, unity, and prosperity for all its people.”
Carmen Bueno, Deputy General Commissioner of the Spain Pavilion, said: “The United Arab Emirates is proudly celebrating its 50th anniversary with a renewed spirit of [the] values initiated by its late founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Today, the UAE has succeeded in conquering space, but none of its great achievements would have been possible without the country’s clear commitment to education, health, women’s and children’s rights, and the eradication of poverty. Without a doubt, this is the core value of the World Expo 2020 Dubai. Happy Golden Jubilee!”
Free entry for National Day weekend
Expo is free for the public during the National Day weekend.
A seasonal festive pass for December costs Dh95, although children, students, people over 60 and people of determination are free. Nannies and drivers can also get season passes for free.
Expo gates open at 9am and close at 2am throughout the National Day weekend.
Visitors to Expo are required to have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or a negative result from a test taken within 72 hours. PCR tests are free if you present your ticket at the ‘DHA Expo 2020 Testing Facility’.