UAE's 52nd Union Day celebration combines ancient tradition with modern technology

A special show that will open to the public in coming days was held at Expo City Dubai's Jubilee Park

Celebrations of UAE's 52nd Union Day held at Cop28

Celebrations of UAE's 52nd Union Day held at Cop28
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Celebrations to mark the 52nd Union Day sprang to life at Expo City Dubai's Jubilee Park as the sun set on the third day of the Cop28 summit.

December 2 is the anniversary of the formation of the UAE and is often marked by the broadcast of a unique show, this year in both Arabic and English, highlighting the country's heritage.

The day was observed across the seven emirates by millions of residents who come from different faiths, races, cultures, and nations.

The rulers of six emirates and invited heads of state visiting for the climate summit – led by President Sheikh Mohamed – watched as the past, present and future of the UAE took centre stage.

Following the event, President Sheikh Mohammed said that the UAE would continue to “commemorate our heritage, take pride in our identity and strive for a just, prosperous and sustainable future for all”.

Uniting old and new

This year's show highlighted the legacy of the country's ancestors and the relationship between tradition and technology.

Through performances and storytelling, the Union Day celebration showcased the UAE’s vision of a sustainable future where the world collaborates to overcome climate challenges through innovation and collective action.

The performance at Expo City Dubai was closed to the public who could instead watch it on TV and online.

However, they will have a chance to join the celebrations in person at the 700-seat theatre in the coming days.

The Union Day show will be a ticketed event, performed for crowds at Expo City Dubai's Jubilee Park from December 5 to 12.

Ancient traditions

This year's festivities began with the depiction of an elderly Emirati woman engaging in Al Sadu, a traditional UAE weaving technique integral to Bedouin culture.

The technique of weaving camel fur, goat hair or sheep's wool into blankets, carpets, pillows, tents and decorations for camel saddles and belts, has been practised by Emirati women since ancient times.

The ceremony began with projections of the UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as 90 members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, consisting of local musicians, played the national anthem.

The second scene, ‘Nature's beauty,’ showed the UAE's diverse nature using a large, circular, rotating stage that doubled as a projection screen. Pupils from different schools in the Emirates displayed their dioramas, made using sustainable materials, to showcase their favourite landscapes of the country in commemoration of the “Year of Sustainability”.

The third scene, ‘Navigating Climate Shift together,’ was enacted with tightly choreographed dancers, followed by a fourth scene, ‘Actioning Innovation,’ which fittingly shed light on climate activists around the globe, including Zayed Sustainability prize winners.

The last scene, ‘Progress to Global Unity,’ showed the contribution of young people to the future of the country. The contrasting scene depicted a young Emirati using Al Sadu to weave while a young woman guides a mechanical arm with dance-like movement.

The show closed with a group of children of various nationalities, dressed in colourful outfits, waving the UAE flags.

Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals were also displayed to the audience, a collection of objectives designed to serve as a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

To conclude the ceremony, meticulously designed props simulated the light effects of fireworks, emphasising the sustainable design and focus of the event.

Updated: December 03, 2023, 7:51 AM