Ambassador Al Otaiba Celebrates the UAE's 50th National Day

UAE Embassy in Washington, DC Celebrates 50th National Day

December 14, 2021

To mark the UAE’s 50th National Day and Golden Jubilee, the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC celebrated five decades of UAE unity and 50 years of UAE-US friendship at The Reach at the Kennedy Center.

Watch the Embassy’s Golden Jubilee Celebration:

The program also featured stories from 50 years | 50 Faces, our storytelling campaign where Emiratis and Americans share personal narratives and anecdotes that reflect on the breadth and depth of the UAE’s history and relations with the US over the past 50 years. Join us over the coming months as we continue to share these unique moments and the deep friendship they represent.

Also, in celebration of 50 years of the dynamic partnership between the UAE and US, view this exhibition curated by Meridian International, the U.S. Mission to the UAE and the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC that showcases 50 photographs recalling notable moments, events, and people.

Read the Ambassador's full remarks:

"Good evening, everyone and welcome! It is wonderful to see so many friends and partners around the room. I am honored that you have joined us to celebrate our 50th birthday. I would like to extend my special thanks to the Kennedy Center for allowing us to hold today’s celebration in the spectacular Reach.

Let me start by taking a short trip down memory lane. Back in 1971 there was a lot happening here in the United States. Some of you may remember that right here on the banks of the Potomac, the Kennedy Center first opened. In the spring of that same year, NPR would broadcast for the first time with coverage of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In Orlando, people flocked to the grand opening of Walt Disney World. And an MIT graduate, working in his spare time, sent the world’s first email. While these events were unfolding here, 7,000 miles away a new country was born in the heart of the Arabian Gulf. Fifty years ago, on December 2, leaders from independent Emirates gathered in Dubai and founded a sovereign country that became known as the United Arab Emirates. 

Today is a remarkable moment for my country. I am extremely honored to represent my country as an ambassador. I am so incredibly proud of everything the UAE has achieved over the last five decades. It’s a very long list -- and I don’t like to give long speeches. So, let’s go through a few of the greatest hits from 2021:

  • The UAE became a major contributor in the global effort to produce and distribute COVID vaccines to countries with the most vulnerable populations. So far, we have provided vaccines and medical equipment to 135 countries. 
  • In February, we became the first Arab nation and the fifth country ever to reach Mars.
  • September marked the one-year anniversary of the historic Abraham Accords.
  • Dubai EXPO opened its doors in October and has already welcomed millions of visitors from every corner of the world.
  • We doubled down on our strong advocacy for the global climate change agenda by launching new initiatives with the US and pledging to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Also on climate, we were selected to host COP 28, happening in 2023.
  • In January, we take up our seat on the UN Security Council. 

None of these achievements would have been possible without the man we honor on this very special occasion. Our founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He underscored the importance of unity, a necessity to provide a better life, ensure stability, and realize the hopes and aspirations of our people. He had the vision and voice of modernism that would pave the way for our unprecedented development.

He also knew that the true asset of any advanced country was its people. He always stressed the importance of education and equality while staying true to Emirati traditions and values. He recognized the important role of women in advancing our society. He was a champion of gender equality, access to education, and healthcare to men and women alike. Sheikh Zayed also instilled the values of tolerance and inclusion which remain a pillar of our way of life today. From this vision, a nation was formed that embraces the traditions of others while proudly holding on to its own.

We are proud to be one of the most diverse countries in the world, home to over 200 nationalities and virtually every religion. In fact, this diversity was a catalyst for the historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis in 2019. The Pope’s visit highlighted the ways that followers of the Abrahamic faiths are united, not divided. This is reflected further by the Abrahamic Family House, which will open in Abu Dhabi next year. It will be home to a Mosque, Synagogue, and a Church. Sheikh Zayed’s legacy of building consensus lives on through our values and interactions with the US and others in the international community.

50 years on, the UAE-US relationship has grown to become our most important, with broad human, economic, cultural and security dimensions. Take the Abraham Accords as an example.

With US support we accomplished something extraordinary that creates a path towards a more peaceful Middle East. In a little over a year, people-to-people connections between Emiratis and Israelis are flourishing. Those connections have generated opportunities in trade, technology, culture, and education. Just recently, Emirati, American, and Israeli officials met in Washington for a historic trilateral meeting to discuss ways to deepen cooperation even more. Our shared outlook for the region and world is critical to our efforts of securing peace and stability.

The strong and long-lasting relationship that both our countries enjoy has evolved and strengthened through the years. We work together to combat climate change. We work together to improve the effectiveness and accessibility of vaccines. We work together to advance global food security. And we work together to explore space and advance our understanding of our planet and beyond.

In a time of unprecedented challenges and adversity, we must continue to collaborate on the most pressing global issues of our time. COVID-19 was a wake-up call for all of us. It drove home the need for greater cooperation. We have worked tirelessly with the international community to support the logistics and distribution of vaccines worldwide. We continue to work closely with the US and International organizations to transport millions of doses from the UAE to places with the greatest need.

Both of our countries continue to have an enormous stake in each other’s economic well-being, in open trade and investment, and in a speedy global recovery. Over the last 50 years, we have become one of the largest international investors in the US. We are also the biggest market in the region for US goods and services, and host to thousands of American companies.

As we prepare to take up our seat on the Security Council next month, it is another opportunity for us to make a significant international contribution, strengthen relationships with our partners, and project our values on the global stage. In many ways, the courage associated with the Abraham Accords – the Emirates Mars Mission and our efforts around COVID and climate – together represent the culmination of Sheikh Zayed’s vision for the UAE’s place in the world.

These achievements will be our 'guide star' for the next 50 years. They represent our embrace of diversity, global engagement, and pursuit of knowledge. They represent who we are. They have set the course for our next 50 years of progress.

Thank you."