Citizens gather at the Sweihan military camp to welcome the UAE soldiers as they return from Yemen Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

The nation offered a warm welcome to the first contingent of UAE solders returning from Yemen, after taking part in the Saudi-led coalition Operation Restoring peace, on Saturday. Read on to see how the events unfolded:

 

2.10pm

Best of luck to the next batch of soldiers

 “I would like to wish our brothers who resumed their national duties on November 2ndthe best of luck. These soldiers will build on what we embarked on in Yemen and I have complete faith in them. We are not any better than any of these soldiers and I am certain that they will make us all proud," said one of the returning UAE soldiers.

Full text of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid’s speech welcoming UAE troops from Yemen

Full text of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed’s speech

#Our_Army_Our_Pride trends in millions

1.35pm

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid said: “We are proud of our soldiers and proud of everything they have achieved. These soldiers proved to be faithful and loyal to the country. They have risen as our true icons of patriotism and have made us all exceptionally proud; we will eternally be grateful for all of their achievements. They stood in solidarity with their Yemeni brothers, and that’s the true spirit. Our aim was never to kill anyone; we only want to restore legitimacy back to Yemen."

1.30pm

UAE leaders and senior officials give soldiers a pat on their back for going above and beyond their call of duty as well as express their sincere gratitude and appreciation to each one of them individually.   

1.02pm

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces are currently greeting each soldier and personally shaking hands with each one of them.


Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashind Al Maktoum greets the soldiers upon their arrival

12.50pm

Mohammad Bin Rashid, Mohammad Bin Zayed witness celebrations

Amidst enthusiastic cheers and zealous flag-waving, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces witnessed celebrations to welcome the first batch of UAE Armed Forces which were replaced with a second team that commenced its work in Yemen on November 2.


Dignitaries and officials greet the soldiers at the Sweihan military camp

Over 10,000 Emiratis and residents at the Swaihan Military Camp greeted the 15-kilometre military convoy returning from Yemen after departing from the Ghuwaifat (UAE-KSA) border at 6 am today (Saturday).


Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan greets the soldiers

After nine months of military service in Yemen, the troops returned to a spectacular parade attended by the UAE’s leaders, top officials and proud citizens.

12.45pm

Another Emirati Poet, Juma'a Al Owais, also delivered his own poem, which emphasised that the UAE this year has accomplished an abundance of goals, all of which were a result of the country’s dedicated and persistent efforts over the last couple of years.

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashind Al Maktoum greets the soldiers upon their arrival

12.43pm

Ahmad Sultan Al Mansouri, an Emirati poet, came up with his own poem dedicated to the UAE armed forces, which praised the UAE’s armed forces’ significant achievements in Marib and Aden.


Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan greets a soldier

12.10pm

The UAE armed forces have arrived at the Zayed Military City. Thousands of crowds are waving the UAE flags and national songs are playing in the background, encapsulating a true spirit of patriotic fervour, according to Abu Dhabi TV’s live coverage.

11.59am

A hashtag dedicated to the UAE army, which translates to ‘Our army is our source of honour and pride’ has been used more than 111 million times around the world and is currently trending.

11.58am

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces arrived to the Swaihan military camp. This is just before the arrival of the 15-kilometre Armed Forces convoy near the main stage where a military parade will take place.

11.30am

Nasser Al Neyadi salutes #UAE troops

 

11.23am

Maj Gen Mohammad Khalfan Al Rumaithi, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi Police, said: “These soldiers followed their leaders’ commands and enabled us to keep our heads high. We are eagerly awaiting their arrival to offer them a hero’s welcome, which they have undoubtedly earned. The UAE’s aim was to see its Armed Forces rise from strength to strength and become one of the strongest armies in the world. Today, we couldn’t be any prouder of how long they have come. Their abundance of sacrifices and feats are a testament that the UAE continues to raise generations of faithful, loyal and true heroes.”

11.10am

“The soldiers of the UAE have proven in every way possible that they are capable of standing still, regardless of any obstacles they encounter. They have proven to be reliable, loyal and faithful. We couldn’t be prouder of them,” said Ebrahim Al Marie,  an expert on Security and Strategic Affairs.

11.05am

'True sources of pride and honour'

“I am certain that the second batch of soldiers will give it their all to restore peace back to the country. They are our true sources of pride and honour,” a member of the soldier's family gathered to welcome troops home said.

Echoing similar observations, another member said: “I aspire to join these armed forces one day and stand in solidarity with our Yemeni brothers. For now, I want to tell them that they will be with us in spirit and we will always pray for them. That is the least we can do for our soldiers who are willing to give up everything, just to draw smiles to people’s faces.”


 

10.55am

Nujood @nujood__fj shared this video

 

10.50am

The first media batch, which featured about 50 representatives from different publications and news outlets, arrived to Sweihan at 10:30am and had to undergo rigorous security checks prior to obtaining access to the celebrations, according to reports

10.45am

Ebrahim Al Marie, an expert on Security and Strategic Affairs, said: “The celebrations we are having today are fundamental, not only because they’re aimed at honouring the army’s dedicated efforts. In fact, today’s celebrations will also prompt the youth of today to eventually join the UAE's armed forces and follow the soldiers’ footsteps.”

“In addition, the UAE armed forces’ inspiring profusion of accomplishments has also compelled other countries to consider going hand in hand with the Armed Forces and put an end to months of injustice and brutality.”

10.20am

“UAE Armed Forces reach Tareef, Abu Dhabi, with crowds of people from all walks of life welcoming the brave soldiers with wide-open grins, carrying flowers, flags and pictures of the country’s leaders.

10.10am

Marib liberators home from Yemen

The first batch of UAE Armed Forces arrived home after performing their national duty in Yemen and handing responsibilities over to the second batch, reports WAM. The second batch is already stationed in Yemen as part of the Saudi-lead Arab Coalition forces participating in Operation Restoring Hope, aimed at supporting the legitimate government in Yemen.

One of the first batch’s most notable roles was the liberation of Marib from the hands of Al Houthi militias and their allies, the forces of deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The significance of liberating Marib, a key Yemeni province, is that it is home to the ancient landmark, the Marib Dam, which was re-built by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The first batch personnel were accorded a heroes’ welcomes by thousands of UAE citizens and residents who lined the streets to greet them while waving the national flag.
 

10.03am

Retired Major General Salem Bin Rakad Al Ameri, said: “His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered setting up an office at the Crown Prince’s Court to look after the wellbeing of the martyrs’ families’, which definitely was a very special gesture. It reflects the cohesion between the UAE people and its leadership and also substantiates that the martyrs’ roles and efforts will never go in vain.”

“The UAE martyrs have laid down their lives and sacrificed all they owned to fight for such a great cause and shield neighbouring Yemen from the recent tragic wave of events”
 

9.55am

 

Video: A view from the soldiers' perspective, as they come home to cheers.

 

The UAE Armed Forces have arrive in Al Marfa’, welcomed by hundreds of people waving at the brave soldiers and with the UAE flags filling the area to celebrate what is considered to be one of the country’s pivotal turning points in history.

9.32am

People with flags receive UAE troops coming home

Men, women, adults and children alike all stood at the Ghuwaifat area waving the UAE flag while flaunting pictures of the country’s leaders to welcome the first batch of UAE Armed Forces Soldiers as the troops crossed the border into the country at about 6 am today (Saturday).

After being replaced with a second team of soldiers to carry on the work in Yemen under Operation Restoring Hope, the returning troops headed from from the UAE-KSA border towards Swaihan.

A massive reception at Swaihan, Abu Dhabi, is expected to take place at about 12.30 pm today (Saturday) and will include a military parade that will be attended by top UAE leaders, VIPs and officials. The UAE soldiers came back to the country in line with a troop rotation policy, which witnessed the second batch of UAE’s Armed Forces personnel who had begun their national duties in Yemen on November 2.

In an interview with Abu Dhabi TV, Mohammad Al Hammadi, editor in chief of Al Ittihad newspaper, said: “We pray for the second batch of the UAE armed forces to return to us safely to us. We also pray for the fallen martyrs who laid down their lives to restore hope and normality to Yemen.”

“One of the UAE army’s most significant achievements was that their ability to free the Marib province in Yemen from the Houthi militias. The UAE leaders continue to laud and praise the soldiers’ heroic acts, which have truly instilled in us a feeling of national pride and honour,” he added.

Meanwhile at Marfa' around 2000 people gathered after fajr (morning) prayer to welcome the first batch of troops.

"The UAE Armed Forces played a fundamental role in in liberating the Marib dam, which was rebuilt by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and inaugurated in 1986," according to a report on Abu Dhabi TV.

At about 9.30 am, the military convoy arrived at Ghayathi where even more Emiratis gathered to greet the soldiers.
 

9.29am

The UAE armed forces arrive in Ghayathi, Abu Dhabi, which featured people from all walks of life raising the UAE flag to greet the soldiers, their sources of pride and their true symbols of patriotism.

9.20am

The UAE Armed Forces played a fundamental role in in liberating the Marib Dam, which was rebuilt by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and inaugurated in 1986.


A member of the UAE army with a UAE flag near Marib Dam

The UAE flag was raised at the Marib Dam, as a symbol to highlight the UAE Armed Forces’ substantial role in liberating it.
 

9.05am

The rotation policy that came to fruition on November 2nd is a testament to how the UAE has been adopting the most advanced strategies to put an end to the war-torn Yemen’s battering conditions and restore the country’s legitimate government,” Mohammad Al Hammadi, editor-in-chief of Al Ittihad, said.

 

9.02am

Mohammad Bin Zayed tweeted this video

 

8.56am

Over the course of three-four months, one of the UAE’s ground forces’ paramount highlights was freeing Aden, Marib, Bab Al Mandab and Taez from Al Houthi militias, thanks to their selfless sacrifices, commitment and dedication, according to Abu Dhabi TV’s live broadcast coverage.

8.47am

Mohammad Al Hammadi, editor-in-chief of Al Ittihad newspaper, said: “One of the UAE army’s most significant achievements was that their ability to free the Marib province in Yemen from the Houthi militias. The UAE leaders continue to laud and praise the soldiers’ heroic acts, which have truly instilled in us a feeling of national pride and honour.”

8.45am

 

8.40am

Currently, more than 2,000 people are at Al Mafra', who gathered after the Fajr prayer, to welcome the brave heroes.

 

8.38am

Crowds of Emirati nationals, spanning different generations, gathered at Al Marfa', raising the UAE national flags and eagerly awaiting to welcome the UAE’s first batch of soldiers.

8.30am

UAE soldiers cross Ghuwaifat border


The UAE Armed Forces’ first batch of soldiers, who went above and beyond their call of duty during their participation in the Operation Restoring Hope in war-torn Yemen, have crossed the Ghuwaifat Border today at 6 a.m.

A massive reception and huge celebrations at Sweihan, Abu Dhabi, will soon be underway to honour the first batch of UAE’s brave soldiers, who came back to the UAE in line with a troop rotation policy, which witnessed the second batch of UAE’s troops begin their national duties in Yemen on November 2.

In an interview with Abu Dhabi TV, Mohammad Al Hammadi, editor in chief of Al Ittihad newspaper, said: “We pray for the second batch of the UAE armed forces to return to us safely to us. We also pray for the fallen martyrs who laid down their lives to restore hope and normality to Yemen.”
 

7.55am

First picture: Soldiers arrive in UAE

First batch of soldiers from Yemen arrive in UAE. Here’s the first picture

 

 

Earlier report: Warm welcome for UAE soldiers

Abu Dhabi: The first batch of the UAE Armed Forces will soon come back to the UAE after claiming big victories during their participation in Operations Decisive Storm and Restoring Hope carried out by the Saudi-led Arab coalition.

The first batch of troops who saw action in Yemen are coming back to the UAE in line with a troop rotation policy, which saw the second batch of UAE Armed Forces soldiers assume their duties in Yemen on November 2.

Read more on Operation Restoring Hope

The troops will head to Sweihan where a military parade will be held in their honour with performances by UAE army personnel. In attendance will be UAE leaders, VIPs, officials and media. The military convoy is expected to cross over from Ghuwaifat on the UAE-Saudi border at about 6.30 am on Saturday.

The arrival of the first batch of soldiers is set to be covered by all television and radio channels across the UAE in a unified broadcast. The coverage from 8 am until 8 pm will include a ceremonial reception to welcome back the brave soldiers and will feature a number of interviews with military experts.

Visitors to several of the capital’s main malls will be able to witness the events via big screens, which will broadcast the celebrations live.

The 15-kilometre convoy will arrive in Ghayathi, an area between Abu Dhabi city and Ghuwaifat, before heading to the Sweihan military camp at around 12:30 pm.

UAE citizens and residents are tweeting using a hashtag in Arabic, which translates to Replacing the Brave UAE Soldiers.

The Armed Forces played a massive role in in the liberation of Marib from the Al Houthis and forces loyal to ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as liberating the Marib dam which was rebuilt by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and inaugurated in 1986.

The objective of the Arab coalition’s operations in Yemen is to end the rebellion and restore stability to the country. Operation Restoring Hope was launched following Operation Decisive Storm in order to complete the liberation of Yemen and reconstruct it following the destruction perpetrated by Al Houthis and Saleh.

— With inputs from Nada Al Taher, Maisoon Mubarak and WAM