Dubai: The UAE is a rainbow nation of people of myriad nationalities and cultures who have always coexisted in peace. An overwhelming love for the country and pride in its stunning progress is a common thread that binds people — both expatriates and Emiratis alike. On the occasion of the country’s 46th National Day, UAE residents share their sense of emotional connect to the country.

Dr Ameen Al Gohary, Egyptian, consultant paediatric surgery, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi

“I have spent 32 glorious years in the UAE. The country and its people welcomed me with open arms and gave me so much love that I scarcely realised when I became a part and parcel of this country. All the important milestones of my career and life are here. My children were born here. I am not being sentimental when I say that I take pride in the manner in which this nation has shaped up. I had the honour of working as the director of Mafraq Hospital, Abu Dhabi, and cannot forget meeting the great patriarch, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who left me speechless with his humility and wisdom. I think the entire world perceives him as the wisest leader. I feel indebted to this country as it has given me pride, dignity, love and my family. In turn, I have only been able to make a modest contribution. For my family, the UAE is home and the National Day for us is special. We celebrate it as a family.”

Maghanmal Pancholia, veteran Indian businessman living in the UAE for 76 years

“In the 76 years I have lived in the UAE, I have had nothing but admiration for the vision and will of its Rulers. From a small oasis in the desert, the UAE has grown to be a giant in the world arena. I have seen the emirates evolve from the Trucial States to a unified country with a common goal for its people. That day in 1971 was truly golden and the Rulers have kept their promise. I was present at the gathering in the hall of Union House as a member of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce on December 2, 1971. I was overjoyed as all the Rulers signed the treaty. I was sure the young nation would take rapid strides under the wise leadership of Shaikh Zayed and Shaikh Rashid (Bin Saeed Al Maktoum). They were such visionaries and to this day, their good work is being carried forward.

“National Day will always be special as I take pride in the progress and prosperity of this country which has been home to me for over seven decades. I salute the Rulers.”

John Martin St Valery, UK national, businessman and president of the British Business Group

“The UAE is home to my family for the last 20 years — my wife Carolynn, son Jack and daughter Chole and their families. It’s a pride that we feel as a family and about the opportunities it gave me to build my life and legacy. I came here in the late 1990s when my son was eight and daughter six. They completed 10 years of schooling here, returned to the UK for higher studies but, as soon as they could, returned to Dubai because this place is home to them too. My son has a business here while my daughter has set up her married home and is a young mother. We have many Emirati friends and have integrated into society. The UAE is a part of who I am and so the National Day is special to my family and me. I feel immensely proud of its achievements and wish the country all the best in its future endeavours.”

Oliver Tombol, Filipino, businessman

“The UAE has been home to our family since the early 1980s when my father Agnelo Tombol first came here. I have been in the UAE since the age of 10, completed my schooling here, left briefly for the Philippines to complete university education and returned, married and started my family here. My earliest memories of Dubai are of a relaxed oasis of peace and tranquillity where I grew up as a young boy. My wife and son too consider it home. However, as my father passed away recently, we are planning to return to the Philippines. But I feel a strong emotional connect to the place, identify with its people and culture; we learnt to sing the UAE national anthem. Our family has very happy memories of the days gone by and even when I return, this place will hold a special place in my heart. On the occasion of National Day, I would like to express my gratitude and extend best wishes to the people of UAE.”

Kamal Vachani, Indian, group director and regional director of Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC)

“I extend my heartiest congratulations to President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, and Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates and people of the UAE.

“The National Day is a special moment for locals and expatriates alike. We are happy to celebrate this day to embody the vision of the founders of the country to unite the will of the people and the establishment of the United Arab Emirates.

“The UAE has transformed dramatically to assume the present status as a global benchmark in a short span of time. Backed by visionary leadership, and dedicated support from the workforce of this great nation, the country is well-positioned to continue pioneering towards a brighter future.”

Faizal Kottikollon, Indian, founder and chairman of KEF Holdings

“The UAE is truly inclusive in every sense of the word. The nation’s fabric is a blend of nationalities, cultures and traditions from across the world, living and growing together harmoniously. The emirates has found a balance between tradition and new technology. At one end, you will find great respect for old values, whereas in the other, you see a country willing to embrace new ideas and experiences. This culture is what makes the UAE unique not just in the region, but in the world.

“We at KEF Holdings would like to congratulate the leadership on the remarkable efforts made to establish the UAE as a centre for business and entrepreneurship and look forward to (further) collaboration that supports the nation’s futuristic vision.”

Hanan Darwish, Egyptian, cluster president, Gulf Countries and Pakistan, Schneider Electric

“On behalf of the Schneider Electric family, I would like to congratulate the people of the UAE on this momentous day when the UAE turns 46. On this occasion, I applaud the forward-looking leadership of the UAE government that have charted a path to create a globalised and inclusive country, since its birth in 1971. Today’s leaders and policymakers continue to traverse the same path and inspire both corporates and individuals to be bold and creative.”

Dr Azad Moopen, Indian, founder chairman and managing director, Aster DM Healthcare

“As we celebrate the UAE’s 46th National Day, we remember the great leaders who shaped the destiny of the country, and who took it from strength to strength. On this occasion, we salute their foresightedness and continue to dedicate ourselves to bringing advanced health care within the reach of every person residing in the UAE, as well as those visiting.”