UAE National Day celebrated at UK's Natural History Museum

Loss of the leaders of both the UAE and UK marked at gathering in the British capital

UAE National Day celebrations at the Natural History Museum in London. Photo: UAE Embassy
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Hundreds of UK and international dignitaries, including Middle East Minister Tariq Ahmad, gathered at London's Natural History Museum on Tuesday to celebrate the UAE's 51st National Day.

Mansoor Abulhoul, UAE ambassador to the UK, told the minister of his pride in the strengthening ties between the two countries, the historic links possessed by both sides and the joint focus on a deepening partnership in the years ahead.

After a momentous year, the ambassador opened his remarks to recall that both countries had suffered the loss of their heads of state since the last occasion. “Last time we met for the National Day our heads of state were Her Majesty the Queen and His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, this year we mourn their deaths.

“His Highness was only our second head of state and his passing was still a shock to me. Yet in his work and his sad death he reinforced the expectations of continuity and renewal, of permanence and transition. He bequeathed to his successor a young nation but one in which stability and tradition are intricately woven with progress.”

UAE ambassador to the UK Mansoor Abulhoul. UAE National Day celebrations at the Natural History Museum in London. Photo: Embassy of the United Arab Emirates

As a first-hand witness in the UK to the mourning for its monarch of 70 years, Mr Abulhoul said the national reaction was striking. “My abiding impression of her majesty's death when I look back is the quiet dignity of the British people themselves, which reflected the pride and dignity of their queen. It was written in people's faces and in their silence, as much as what people said. It was tangible. It was a privilege to be here at the time.”

Highlighting the generational advantage of meeting new challenges, Mr Abulhoul said President Sheikh Mohamed benefited from Sheikh Khalifa and the founder Sheikh Zayed having inherited that vision displayed in the UAE's earliest days.

He also noted the Prince of Wales had made Expo the platform for his inaugural Earthshot prize earlier this year. “The UAE was honoured to host His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on a visit to Expo last year to announce the first ever Earthshot prize and more recently we ourselves were hosted by His Majesty the King at Buckingham Palace to discuss pressing environmental issues.”

The discussion centred on the Cop28 climate change conference that the UAE will host in 2023. “We look forward to shining the spotlight on issues of environmental significance,” he said. “This isn't just about speeches, we are determined to lead in the adoption and management of renewable resources.”

Lord Ahmad, as the government's minister for the region, talked of the opportunities of working in a Sovereign Investment Partnership with the UAE, benefiting a shared economic prosperity agenda. He paid tribute to Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the UN, who was at the event having travelled to London.

UAE ambassador to the UK Mansoor Abulhoul. UAE National Day celebrations at the Natural History Museum in London. Photo: UAE Embassy

The UAE's familiarity with so many from the UK was hailed as the bedrock of the relationship in his speech.

“The UAE [is] a powerhouse of trade and investment and an international centre for culture and sport, a major hub for international travel,” he said. “About 120,000 [Britons] have made the Emirates their home and that shows the vitality, the incredible partnership between our two nations.

“That partnership should leverage so much more,” he added. “The ambition is high. The commitment is unstinting and therefore working together I give you an assurance from the United Kingdom that all paths offer the foundation for an ever strengthening friendship.”

Updated: November 30, 2022, 5:06 PM