Ask Ali: The significance of martyrs’ day in the UAE

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Dear Ali: I understand that November 30 is an important date for the country, but I am wondering why the memorial Commemoration Day has been chosen for this date and not during the mourning period, and how it is going to be celebrated? GW, Al Ain

Dear GW: Yawm Al Shaheed, literally translated as martyrs' day, is an annual public holiday marked by patriotic displays from those in the UAE. Of course, it cannot be a celebration in the same way as we celebrate National Day, but instead is a day of remembrance to honour those who have given their lives for the country.

The date was not chosen ­accidentally. It’s a wise decision by the leaders and the people of the UAE – November 30 has been significant for us since 1971, when the first Emirati “shaheed” or martyr, Salem Suhail bin Khamis, sacrificed his life in the battle on the Greater Tunb island when the Iranian invasion took place.

This day was and will always be remarkable because it is one when the people of the UAE will remember those who gave their souls for the sake of humanity, peace and assuring the people who are in need of their rights.

The UAE has been involved in several conflicts – in Lebanon in 1980, the second Gulf War in 1990, and again this year, when we lost so many brave Emirati men who sacrificed their lives protecting the rights of our brothers and sisters in Yemen.

On Commemoration Day we also remember that what we do is a duty and not a service, protecting and bringing justice and safety to countries that are in need of our help, such as Somalia where our army acted as a peacemaker during the conflict.

Commemoration Day is a federal holiday, so most organisations in the UAE will be closed. Flags will be lowered and our rulers will praise the country’s values and its people, especially the families of the martyrs.

Acts of remembrance will take place all across the country. The national theme decorations – posters, emblems and clothing – will have symbols of the soldiers on them together with the colours of the UAE flag. And there is nothing needed from the people of the UAE, whether Emirati or expat, except to remember those great men and share their stories and believe in the missions they lost their lives for. May God rest their souls in peace and bless those men and women still serving.

Dear Ali: I am planning on moving to the UAE for work and want to bring my disabled brother – he loves sunny ­places. However, I am ­concerned about the UAE's public facilities for such people. Will it be easy for us to adapt? EM, Norway

Dear EM: Welcome to the UAE. Accessible living for disabled people has always been of interest to our leaders and supported by responsible entities and our country's citizens.

In our major cities, most public places are equipped with apt facilities – parking slots, toilets, elevators and even transportation services such as specialised cars, which can load a wheelchair without the owner needing to get out of it.

Our leaders also support disabled sports by honouring victorious Paralympic athletes.

If your brother is interested in sport, he could join a special sport club where I’m sure he will meet many new friends. So rest assured, you and your brother will have no problem in adapting to the lifestyle and facilities of our country.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50.