Commemoration Day: Remembering the people who secure the UAE

The National Day holiday period is a time to reflect as much as it is to celebrate

National Day celebrates the date the UAE was unified in 1971. Photo: Expo City Dubai
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

As the National Day long weekend approaches with perfect weather expected, the UAE is getting ready to enjoy one of its favourite holidays in the calendar. However, it takes place for historically profound and symbolic reasons.

December 2 is National Day, which celebrates the date the UAE was unified in 1971. It began a remarkable story of rapid development, which made a tangible contribution to all who live and work in the Emirates and beyond.

This journey should be celebrated. It has provided citizens and residents with a stable, prosperous home, coupled with a safe, entrepreneurial environment. It also should not be taken for granted, particularly in a region that has been turbulent throughout the entire lifespan of the country.

It is fitting, therefore, that prior to National Day a more sombre public holiday takes place every year: Commemoration Day, which officially falls on November 30, although it has been marked with a public holiday on December 1 in recent years.

It is no coincidence that the two are so close together. Commemoration Day falls on November 30 because it was on that day in 1971 that Salem Suhail bin Khamis became what is believed to be the first Emirati killed in military service, on the island of Greater Tunb. The timing of his death could hardly be more symbolic of the sacrifice and bravery some are called on to demonstrate for a country to flourish and be safe.

Many have served since, and this year the country lost one of the most longstanding leaders in its history, President Sheikh Khalifa. Many will be remembering him and his work for the country this year.

President Sheikh Mohamed has said November 30 is a moment to affirm the strength and cohesion of society in the Emirates. It is important to note that this applies to all who live in the country. National Day might be based in Emirati culture, but across the country people from all the UAE's many communities have the chance to share in the celebrations, and feel gratitude for the prosperity the country enjoys.

And on Commemoration Day – indeed at any time – the vast complex of Wahat Al Karama, or Oasis of Dignity, which tells the stories of the UAE's heroes, should be visited. Its features include the central Pavilion of Honour that commemorates those who have given their lives for the country. Names are engraved on metal recycled from military vehicles. Surrounding the structure is symbolism to deepen the sense of commemoration, including verses from the Quran and poetry from the UAE's Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Many more people are set to be a part of the UAE's National Days, as the country consolidates its position in the region and the world. Tragically, that success and security will sometimes require great sacrifice. The Emirates can be proud of the people willing to risk it, and mourns those who are no longer here because of this duty.

Published: November 30, 2022, 3:00 AM