Image Credit: Nino Jose Heredia/©Gulf News

Every morning on my way to work I pass by a children's school and hear them sing the national anthem. Beautiful and refreshing are their innocent voices honouring the lyrics written in 1971 with the establishment of the UAE. Thousands of children across the country do the same to show their patriotism.

The lyrics of the UAE national anthem, which start with "Long live my country. Long live the union of our Emirates" and continue to be recited by the children every morning, take special meaning during the current turmoil engulfing the region around us.

In times where governments in other countries break down in a matter of hours, in times where people fight amongst themselves, and as the disturbances make headlines in the newspapers, the children's innocent affirmation of their love towards their country reminds us that we still have a purpose to deliver and a higher goal to achieve. The purpose is unconditional love of the country we live in, and the goal is its stability and prosperity.

Flipping through the pages of the newspapers nowadays, I often come across advertisements calling for tribal meetings to express loyalty to the UAE and its leadership. Many tribes in the Emirates have held meetings in the past several weeks, and continue to do so, to reiterate their covenant to the country. A much-needed call in times of trouble.

The UAE system like in all Gulf countries is based on a tribal structure and that of large families. Each tribe has a representative who is elected by the members of the tribe and who speaks on the tribe's behalf.

The meetings held are anything but unconventional; they have been taking place for many years prior to the formation of the UAE. Tribes used to meet the state leaders on national occasions and other events throughout the year to reaffirm that all members of the tribe are supportive to the leadership and the system.

Ripple effect

The tribe members in these meetings have assembled to renew their allegiance to the country's great symbols of unity, which are represented by the flag and the national anthem, the union and it's leader, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the symbol of its sovereignty and unity.

We celebrate those symbols on a daily basis not only by hanging the pictures of our leaders high on our walls, but most importantly by believing and acting upon the words of the national anthem we memorise by heart and that are sung in schools every morning by the future of our nation, our children. Our celebration continues by carrying forward our beliefs and instilling them in the younger generations that follow.

The importance of the tribal meetings is not just in renewing those vows; but also the intangible ripple effect that it creates by spreading a sense of unity, harmony, and alliance. It ensures that we remain loyal to the country, to the leadership and the system, founded by the federation pioneers.

It is a reminder of how divided we were 40 years ago, and how united we are today. We have indeed progressed and our country has developed, and through this, our sense of patriotism remains intact. We will continue to stand for our country and for the flag that represents us.

The tribal meetings, which have been widely reported in the local media, were triggered by the recent events to assure that we are united. In good times or in bad; we remain supportive of our country and its symbols. The meetings serve as a platform to confirm that the feelings of patriotism and the acts of loyalty aren't grown by force; on the contrary they are a natural cultivation of the love fostered by the leadership.

The pledge of allegiance isn't a foreign idea to many who understand the unity of citizenship notion. It has been witnessed in many countries around the world and has been confirmed historically by the ancient Greeks and Romans, followed then by the European, English and American constitutions.

The pledge isn't necessarily a written document that is signed, or words that are said; it is the act of passion towards the country. We have been taught many lessons of love by our late president and the founding father of the nation, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

From him we learnt to love and cherish the soil of this land; we learnt to appreciate the air that we breathe, we learnt to value the safety and security our country offers, and we learnt to embrace the solidarity of our people.

Our message to the world is: we the proud daughters and sons of the United Arab Emirates, pledge to remain honourable to our country, loyal to its leadership, dignified as the lyrics of the anthem, and united as a nation. 

Sheikha Al Maskari is an Emirati writer based in Abu Dhabi.