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The stunning Jubail Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: The mangroves — the UAE’s natural treasures — are set to become the main protagonists of the show celebrating the UAE’s 49th National Day.

At a virtual press conference, organisers of the Seeds of the Union show, scheduled for December 2, said it will see a moving sculpture on water, with digital visuals depicting the UAE’s journey from a seed to a blooming flower, on to its propagation into the future. In doing so, the aim is to celebrate the unity of the country’s seven emirates and their formation into the UAE on December 2, 1971.

Virtual meetings

The show was conceived over many virtual meetings between the artists and the director, Es Devlin, a London-based artist and stage designer who had designed the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Work on the sculpture was also discussed and shared virtually. Devlin said she was taken in by what she said was “an extraordinary tour of the Emirates”.

Nature protagonist

“The tour made it clear that Nature should be the foreground, the protagonist of this show. The mangroves are a metaphor for the UAE as a young country,” Devlin said at the press conference.

According to Sheikha Al Ketbi, a member of the organising committee of the 49th UAE National Day celebrations, the mangroves surrounding Abu Dhabi island were recognised by the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as protecting the land from harsh waves. “[Sheikh Zayed] recognised their value and initiated reforestation programmes. So they are a symbol of the UAE’s resilience, its perseverance through various challenges,” Al Ketbi explained.

UAE’s togetherness

Khalfan Al Mazrouei, member of the organising committee of the 49th UAE National Day celebrations, added that the show will pay tribute to the UAE’s strength and togetherness, which have been evident during the pandemic, as it heads into its golden jubilee.

While the location of the show has not been announced yet, organisers alluded to the movement of the sculpture across a body of water. Designers, artists and researchers will collaborate to design the show across the United Kingdom and the UAE.

Adherence to COVID-19 precautions

Devlin added that when she came down to the UAE, she was amazed by the safe and thorough way the pandemic was being navigated. Keeping to that guidance, the team designing and executing the show has also gone on to maintain social distancing, wear face masks and undertake regular COVID-19 testing.

This focus on safety is also the reason why the National Day show will be broadcast on television this year, rather than showcased to a live audience.

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“The overarching theme of the live show is one of hope and optimism. Embracing the country’s rich legacy and traditions, it looks ahead to a vivid future in which we remain true to our values,” Al Mazrouei said.