What is Commemoration Day 2022 and why is it celebrated in the UAE?

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

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The next public holiday in the UAE follows 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 51st year since unification.

As preparations gather pace for National Day, 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 is marked by a minute's silence on Wednesday, November 30, and celebrated with a public holiday on Thursday, December 1.

The day officially falls today, 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 who work on Saturdays also given December 3 off.

Employees who work on Sunday will also have the day off, returning to work on Monday, December 5.

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.

The late 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 and 2022.

Marking last year’s Commemoration Day, 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 2022?

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, who is now UAE President, called the country’s martyrs heroes.

“Their courage and sacrifice will inspire future generations and their memory will live forever in the history of the UAE,” he said.

“We salute their families and we pray that they rest in peace.”

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

Updated: November 30, 2022, 5:03 AM
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