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2023 gives Swedes a two-pronged reason to celebrate: its marks King Carl XVI Gustaf’s 50th jubilee and the 500th anniversary of Sweden as an independent state. On the occasion of the grand day, we asked Swedes around the UAE how they keep up with their traditions and how they plan to mark the day.

One way to celebrate a culture is to share it, says Johnny Kollin, Founder and Managing Director of Dubai-based Várri Consultancy.

Johnny Kollin, Founder and Managing Director, Várri Consultancy

Kollin, who has been in the UAE for 10 years, says: “As a Swedish business owner, I enjoy sharing our culture and food with colleagues and clients. It’s a way to share experiences, invite others to explore new traditions, food, and music, and get to know each other more deeply. It makes for fun conversations to explain to our colleagues and clients from other countries why we celebrate the way we do. For example, on Fettisdagen (Shrove Tuesday), we ordered traditional Swedish bakeries called semlor from a Swedish-owned café in Dubai and delivered them to our clients’ offices. On Kanelbullens dag (Cinnamon Bun Day) last year, we treated our clients and staff to Swedish-style cinnamon buns.”

Johanna Kruger

Johanna Kruger has big plans for National Day. The Swede, who has been in the UAE since 2016, is the director of Young Professionals Network at the Swedish Business Council in the UAE. “I founded the Swedish Young Professional network in the UAE pretty early on and got involved with them to expand their community. We host all kinds of events, including National Day celebrations. This year will be a big event in Abu Dhabi, so I'll be there wearing my blue and yellow Sweden shirt.” 

Disa T., a 34-year-old public relations specialist in Dubai, says: “If I get nostalgic or I want someone to experience Swedish culture, I’ll cook or bake something at home or get it from the Scandinavian grocery in Al Quoz.”

Asa Brengdahl

As for Asa Brengdahl, she realized how strong her culture was once she moved countries. “When I moved to Dubai, I actually realized that Sweden has a strong culture. And it's got very old traditions.” She explains that back home, there are get-togethers in parks, traditional games and food. In Dubai, she mulls: “It's gonna be very cliche, but I will go to IKEA, because they always sell things for the season, so for mid-summer, they would sell probably the ingredients you'd need if you want to make something special for your smorgasbord or crayfish. They're a very big help for Swedes abroad.”