How best to mark the beneficence of a person who has given so much to her country and her people? In the case of Sheikha Fatima, the answer is obvious: to create something in which everyone can share and that also celebrates the achievements and contributions of others. The Mother of the Nation Festival, which begins on the Abu Dhabi Corniche today, takes its name from Sheikha Fatima, the wife of our Founding Father Sheikh Zayed, and rightly acknowledges her tireless philanthropy over many years. But its focus is on all mothers. It celebrates all the women who give so much to their families, their communities and this country.
This festival is about the women who are the backbone of their families, who raise children, run households and, increasingly often, also hold responsible positions in the public service and private enterprise. The UAE leads the region in the empowerment of women, offering opportunities in education and employment that are not available elsewhere. But, at the same time, we recognise the central role that many women play in their own homes, as the glue that keeps their families together. Mothers are their children’s first and most important mentors, and it is their love, their dreams and their prayers that guide their children to success and happiness in life.
While the meaning behind the celebration is a serious and important one, the emphasis over the next 10 days will be on fun for mums and their families. Abu Dhabi certainly knows how to plan and deliver this kind of festival. And, as we have seen with events as diverse as the annual Qasr Al Hosn Festival and the entertainment programme surrounding the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, the people of this emirate and this country love to celebrate. Under the auspices of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the festival will include art installations, pop-up shops and food stalls each day from 4pm to midnight until April 2. Activities range from the passive – browsing through rarely seen photographs from the 1950s and 1960s – to the active, including parkour and free-fall jumping. Visitors can learn how to create a home garden, listen to the latest in urban music, or chill out at the Beach Juice Bar.
Most of all, though, this is about us all coming together, for mothers to celebrate and for their husbands, children and others to show their appreciation of the too-often unsung heroes of every household.