Abu Dhabi: The Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Abu Dhabi hosted Singapore National Day celebrations for the community members in the UAE on Friday.

Umej Bhatia, the first resident Singaporean Ambassador to the UAE, was the guest of honour in the presence of Cheong Ming Foong, Singapore’s Consul-General in Dubai. While marking the Republic of Singapore’s 48th birthday, the celebration also recognised the accomplishments of Singapore’s community in the UAE, said a press release.

Along with a special entertainer flown in from Singapore for the event, highlights of the celebration included the annual Outstanding Singaporean in the UAE Award and the inaugural Young Singaporean Achiever in the UAE.

Since 2008, the Outstanding Singaporean in the UAE Award has honoured Singaporeans in the UAE who have provided outstanding services to the community. The winner of this year’s award was Bill Wong, chairman and managing director of the Sharjah-based Atlantic Maritime Group.

The newly introduced Young Singaporean Achiever Award was won by Suzanna Seng, a female pilot with Etihad Airways. Arriving in the UAE in 2005, Seng worked her way up from cabin crew to cabin manager to become a pilot in the A320 fleet.

The Singapore community in the UAE numbers approximately 2,100 long-stayers, the largest in the Middle East. In Dubai alone, the three major Singapore clubs – the Singapore Business Council (SBC), Singapore Malay-Muslim Group (SMG) and the Singapore Women’s Group (SWG), have also reached out to many Singaporeans in other parts of the UAE. The SMG has provided the template for similar clubs in the region.

The ambassador hailed the exemplary community spirit of the Singaporeans. He expressed his satisfaction at the strong mutual support networks maintained by Singaporeans in the UAE, observing that “many Singaporeans regularly drive between Emirates to support each other’s functions.

Singapore’s community in the UAE is complemented by a large number of Singaporeans who vacation here annually or transit through the UAE’s airports. The UAE is Singapore’s 12th largest trading partner in the world and largest in the Middle East. The close relationship between the two countries is underscored by the regular exchange of visits by leaders of both countries, said the press release.