Abu Dhabi: To mark National Day President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan gifted 41,000 date palm seedlings to all UAE schools and mosques, it was announced on Sunday.

Shaikh Khalifa’s generous gift is meant to enhance the Union Tree planting drive recently initiated by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to demonstrate the solidarity of the seven emirates and UAE nationals.

Shaikh Khalifa gifted the plants for distribution to the Ministry of Education, General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments and Abu Dhabi Education Council.

They are to be eventually planted in each school and mosque in the UAE to consolidate and symbolise values of unity among Emiratis.

The announcement was made by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, who is also the chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Khalifa International Date Palm Award.

Shaikh Nahyan pointed out that the number — 41,000 — of the best-quality seedlings was meant to coincide with 41 years of UAE independence since 1971. The palm seedlings were produced by the Laboratories of the Date Palm Development Research Unit of the UAE University.

The move follows scores of Union Tree planting ceremonies across the Emirates, at schools, homes, government departments and office gardens.

The date palm bears cultural significance in Emirati heritage and the robust tree is held in deep respect in the country.

The UAE is one of the world’s biggest producers and exporters of dates, with tens of millions of trees dotting the emirates.

Each tree is worth thousands of dirhams.