Tuesday, December 03, 2013


This past Monday marked the 42 anniversary of the United Arab Emirates. It is a big deal over here, and it should be. The UAE is one of the newest countries on earth, and in 42 years they have completely re-imagined their country.

Before the UAE was formed, the area was comprised of trucial sheikhdoms. The leaders of the sheikdoms had long standing alliances with the British government, but when those alliances began to fail, the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, sought to unite all of the sheikhdoms of the region. Sheikh Zayed was (and in many ways still is) a pivotal figure in shaping the UAE.

Not only was he responsible for uniting the sheikdoms and forming what we now know as the UAE, he was responsible for setting the visionary and progressive tone of the UAE's culture.

Zayed lived through the economic depression of the 1930's, which was created by the collapse of the pearling industry along the Trucial Coast in the 1920's. This experience influenced his approach to economic development and exploitation of his country's oil reserves. He used the wealth created from oil production to aggressively invest in infrastructure, health care, education and business to ensure the log term success of the UAE. His son Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan continues this vision investing heavily in commerce and re-structuring the UAE's educational system.

The fantastic thing about such a young country is the people's enthusiasm. Everyone here celebrates National Day. Imagine July 4th but strung out over a month. The schools have been preparing for National Day with festivals, assemblies, and guest speakers for weeks.

Because of the timing (and coincidental colors), Al Ain almost looks as if it is decked out for Christmas. The buildings are draped in lights and color and the round-about are filled with light sculptures and banners.

The new soccer stadium (that isn't even complete) is rocking a coloring changing light show.

And what is a party without F-16's!
The National Day celebration was capped off with fireworks which we watched from the rooftop of our apartment. It was fun experiencing another country's version of the "4th of July". Hopefully we'll get to do it again!

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