This weekend was one of the best celebrations I have seen in my 8 years in the Emirates.
We have enjoyed several bigger and more flamboyant events-
think the Atlantis Hotel opening and Kylie Minogue’s performance
or…the opening of the Burj Khalifa, and unforgettable fireworks
or…the launch of Meydan- the custom-built city and homage to horse racing
or…the first grand prix coming to the Emirates for the first time
or…the opening of a brand new metro system for Dubai
the list could go on and on.
None of these, however, got close to the sense of heartfelt national pride and unity witnessed on the streets of Dubai (and I am sure Abu Dhabi and the six other emirates) in the days leading up to the anniversary of the inauguration of the UAE last Friday December 2nd.
I am actually talking less about the flashes of colour, images of leaders, processions, fireworks, flags, and copious food and drink and more about the small things: Emirati schoolchildren delivering food and celebratory scarves to labourers in their traditional garb and receiving such warmth and gratitude in return; employees of all nationalities of Citibank in Oud Metha sitting together and eating traditional food as one; residents of Beach Road coming out at night simply to soak up the lights and atmosphere of honking cars daubed in paint and setting off firecrackers; and finally the UAE national women leading the clean up operation on Saturday morning with brooms and buckets!
I am sure that these sights belong as much to Sheikh Mohammed’s vision of the UAE as the razzamatazz of tallest buildings and most luxurious hotels.