As France celebrated Bastille Day on July 14, the United Arab Emirates joined it as the guest of honour at its Diplomatic Garden Party, a much sought-after diplomatic event gathering ambassadors and top diplomats accredited to France, representatives from international and regional organisations and prominent businesspersons.
Held at the Pavilion Royal in Paris, the event brought together over 1200 guests from the diplomatic community in France.
As guest of honour, the UAE showcased its rich culture and heritage, from a traditional dance show to traditional cuisine and delicacies, to an impressive performance that included cultural presentations throughout France's national day.
On this occasion, HE Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of State for Youth conveyed the greetings of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan President of the UAE, and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces to French Government, as well as their wishes of further progress and prosperity for France and its people.
"We celebrate with France this historic day of its liberty and unification. Tomorrow - we celebrate with France as it vies for the World Cup! Let me first express my warmest congratulations to you on behalf of the UAE Government - you have had an impressive run over the last 4 weeks - AND over the last 229 years! We wish you prosperity in the days and years to come in this era - and on the field", said HE Al Mazrui during her keynote address on this auspicious day.
"On this special occasion, I would like to reaffirm the UAE Government's commitment to work with the French Government to strengthen the ties that unite our two nations. With our two countries so closely linked by economic, security and cultural interests, it only makes sense that we should be investing hand-in-hand in a partnership that enables us to achieve more together than what we could accomplish apart" she added.
Bilateral relations between the two countries have witnessed a major leap over the past several years, particularly cultural ties most recently reflected in the partnership that led to the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which has become one of the world's focal and eminent cultural landmarks and has strategic importance for both the United Arab Emirates and France.
"I want to note a very special development in our partnership that occurred last November in the opening of the world-renowned Louvre Abu Dhabi. This extraordinary museum is about looking at what it means to be human. It invites us to explore the universal story of humankind again for the first time - through a new lens - that which makes us more alike than different across cultures, space and time. Through trendsetting art from the faiths and traditions of East, West and Midwest, the Louvre Abu Dhabi invites us to see our shared humanity in a new light. I am so glad that France and the UAE share these values", she observed.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum was inaugurated on November 8, 2017. It is the first universal museum in the Arab world and the largest cultural project promoted by France abroad. With a collection covering all civilizations and periods, from Neolithic to modern times, it is a symbol of openness to the world and tolerance, where East meets West on the Silk Road.
The year 2018 is a special year for the UAE, as the young nation marks the 100th birthday of its founder, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God rest his soul, who passed away in 2004.
"The UAE is born from the foresight, heart and wisdom of our great leader and visionary who placed human, social and economic development at the heart of his concerns and instilled education as the UAE's concrete foundation".
To commemorate this historic national occasion, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates dubbed 2018 in the UAE as the "Year of Zayed". This yearlong commemoration will feature a series of events and initiatives in the UAE and internationally, designed to commemorate the memory of the inspirational world leader the late Sheikh Zayed was, highlight his legacy, and promote the values he lived by and carried forward.
By virtue of his words, actions, foresight and judgment, Sheikh Zayed was widely recognized as a wise and visionary leader and an inspirational man. He imagined a better future for his people, and had the wisdom and determination to draw an ambitious vision and turn it into a reality, against all odds, securing the UAE's social development, economic strength and national security well into the future.
"Our projects and potentials know no boundaries. It is in this spirit that we seek to make Expo 2020 Dubai a meaningful, globally significant World Expo worthy of its claim as the world's largest exposition to-date. More than 170 countries have announced their participation. The theme we have chosen: "connecting minds, creating the future" reflects the matrix of minds, ambitions, and ideas we hold space to harness and to build together a more connected, open and thriving world for all" said HE Shamma Al Mazrui.
"Our environmental and sustainability concerns are as innate and unwavering. They have stirred us to sizable action. Masdar is the living example, our precursory project. With 0% greenhouse gas emissions, Masdar will be the first Clean City in the world. Masdar embodies more than just an avant-garde and symbolic new city; it represents a new life philosophy, a new cognitive and behavioural system and beacon into the future of sustainability".
Omar Shehadeh, Senior Vice President, International Participants Operations at Expo 2020 Dubai, who represented Expo at the event, said: "We are working hard to deliver a meaningful World Expo that has real relevance and impact across continents and generations. Expo 2020 Dubai will be a global celebration of innovation and collaboration that brings together communities and countries from around the world, so we are delighted to be here in Paris with the diplomatic community to spread our message."
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company said "Masdar is honoured to participate in the celebrations of the French National Day, a great opportunity to also celebrate the warm and enduring ties between our two countries. "Bastille Day is a wonderful occasion for Masdar to commemorate 12 years of outstanding achievements together with our French partners, and we look forward to many more years of successful collaboration", he added.
A spokesperson for ADNOC said, "For over 75 years France has been a partner in the development of Abu Dhabi's oil and gas resources and has closely collaborated with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company across various stages of the oil and gas value chain. Bastille Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the many successes that have been achieved thanks to our relationship, which was strengthened in March, when Total was awarded stakes in two of Abu Dhabi's new offshore concessions. It is just one example of the many facets of our energy partnership that have contributed to deepening economic ties and promoting mutual investment between the United Arab Emirates and France."
Etihad Airways was represented at the event by Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer, Gregoire Becouze, General Manager Western Europe and by Fatma Al Mehairi, General Manager France.
Fatma Al Mehairi, Etihad Airways General Manager France said, "Etihad Airways is honoured to be part of the Bastille Day celebration. As an airline who is connecting France and the United Arab Emirates, and who is bringing our countries, cultures and people closer together every day, it is a privilege to be part of this celebration."
Commenting on the auspicious occasion, Mohamed Juma'a Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah, said, "The UAE and France have always had close commercial ties which have grown over the years. Our participation will highlight the four key investment sectors in Sharjah such as; Travel & Leisure, Environment, Healthcare, Transport & Logistics".
Bilateral relations between the UAE and France go well beyond the cultural, touching on the military, political, educational, archaeological, audio-visual, legal, energy and medical sectors, among many others, and most importantly trade and business. The UAE is the second trade partner of France in the Gulf, after Saudi Arabia, with bilateral trade valued at nearly $5 billion in 2016. The UAE is also the second largest investor in France. With 11% of the FDI stock, France is the second investor in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and the third investor in the Emirate of Dubai.
The UAE is the second investor country from the Gulf in France, representing 35% of the investment stock from the region and home to more than 600 subsidiaries of French companies, with over 75% of the CAC 40's firms.
In Paris, July 14 festivities feature the traditional military parade on the Champs-Elysees and fireworks displays. The Diplomatic Garden Party is a keynote event that gathers ambassadors and representatives from various international organisations.
Bastille Day is a commemoration of the day the French people fought for their independence from the "Old Regime", on July 14, 1789. Paris was in a state of high agitation in the early months of the French revolution. King Louis XVI called in fresh troops and dismissed his popular Minister, Jacques Necker. On the morning of July 14, the people of Paris seized weapons from the armoury at the Invalids and marched in the direction of an ancient Royal fortress, the Bastille. After a bloody round of firing, the crowd broke into the Bastille and released the handful of prisoners held there.
Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs