UAE Commemoration Day 2021: why is it celebrated?

The Emirates remembers those who lost their lives for the country every year

The next public holiday in the UAE is Commemoration Day, an annual event to remember those who lost their lives serving the country.

This year, the event, also known as Martyrs Day, will be the first of three days dedicated to celebrating the UAE’s 50th anniversary.

As preparations gather pace for the country’s Golden Jubilee, here is all you need to know about this year’s Commemoration Day.

When is the UAE's Commemoration Day?

Commemoration Day in the UAE will be marked by a minute's silence on Tuesday, November 30, and celebrated with a public holiday on Wednesday, December 1.

The day officially falls on November 30 but has been marked with a public holiday on the following day in recent years, a move that is being repeated this year.

This means Commemoration Day is the first of three consecutive days of public holiday in December, because it is immediately followed by UAE National Day on December 2, with employees also given December 3 off.

Because December 4 is a Saturday, which is a weekend day in the UAE, many residents can expect a four-day break from work.

Why does the UAE celebrate Commemoration Day?

Commemoration Day is held every year to recognise the dedication and sacrifices of the UAE’s military and civilian service people, and to honour those who lost their lives while serving the country.

President Sheikh Khalifa introduced Commemoration Day in 2015.

It originally took place on November 30 to commemorate the death of Salem Suhail Khamis, who died on the same date in 1971 fighting against Iranian forces on the island of Greater Tunb. He is thought to have been the first Emirati to be killed in military service since the formation of the UAE that year.

In 2019 and 2020, the public holiday was held on December 1, a move that was repeated in 2021.

Marking last year’s Commemoration Day, President Sheikh Khalifa spoke of the sacrifices of the nation’s heroes.

“We will always remember as people and leadership, with appreciation and gratitude, our children who sacrificed their lives in defence of the nation,” he said.

What events are planned for Commemoration Day 2021?

Every year, the UAE observes a nationwide minute of silence to remember those who lost their lives while serving the country.

This year, the one-minute silence is taking place at 11.30am on November 30.

In previous years, UAE leaders commemorated the country’s fallen servicemen at Abu Dhabi’s Wahat Al Karama memorial, which translates to Oasis of Dignity in English, and is dedicated to Emiratis killed in service.

Last year, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said the country’s martyrs were timeless symbols of patriotism.

"May our martyrs rest in peace. Their sacrifice remains the beacon that lights our path in difficult times," he said.

"On Martyrs Day, I would like to join the nation in paying tribute to their heroism and saluting their devotion to protecting our country and our people."

Celebrations for the UAE’s 50th National Day may also begin on December 1 as people enjoy their days off. A spectacular live show will be streamed from Hatta at 5.30pm the following day.

Find out all you need to know about the UAE’s 50th National Day celebrations here.

What are the Covid rules for the UAE’s Commemoration Day events?

This year’s Commemoration Day will take place during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus case numbers in the UAE have plummeted and the country has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

However, health authorities are reminding people to stay vigilant while celebrating Commemoration Day and National Day.

Masks will be compulsory in crowds, and public events will require negative PCR results to attend.

See the full list of Covid rules for Commemoration Day here

Ncema rules for Commemoration Day and National Day celebrations. Photo: Ncema

- This article was originally published on November 16, 2021.

Updated: December 01, 2021, 3:39 AM