When NYU Abu Dhabi freshman Mohammed Alblooshi approaches the microphone to sing the UAE's national anthem this coming Thursday, he will be excited, he will be nervous, but most importantly, he will be proud. "This is an honor for me. I have only lived in the UAE for two of my 18 years, but being Emirati is something I take great pride in," Alblooshi said.
As soon as he was appointed to sing the anthem, he immediately began working with classmate and pianist Dhia Fani (NYUAD '17) to find the appropriate key and practice the song. As Alblooshi said, "Sheikh Zayed did so much to make his country proud. I want to be able to do that as well."
The national anthem will be one of several performances taking place at NYUAD's UAE National Day celebration, to be held in the University's Downtown Campus garden on Thursday from 6-9pm. In addition to the singing of the anthem, there will be an educational recitation from the Quran with English translation, a traditional Emirati ayala dance, and some speeches and poems from non-Emirati NYUAD seniors.
"Some of the other performances are new for this year; since it's the last time this celebration will take place at the Downtown Campus, we want it to be extra special," said Maitha al Mansoori (NYUAD '16).
Performances won't be the only aspect of the event celebrating local culture. "Since there aren't many Emirati restaurants in Abu Dhabi, we wanted to let people try the local cuisine," al Mansoori said. The event menu includes such Emirati delicacies as balaleet, an egg and noodle omelet, and chabab, a type of bread made in a frying pan. While there will be forks and spoons for the food, that's not the method Alblooshi recommends for authentic Emirati dining. "I'll be encouraging people to experience the traditional Emirati way of eating with your hands," he said.
In addition to performances and food, the event will feature a falcon, a saluki, traditional majlis seating, a variety of dates brought in from two farms, and featured artwork from NYUAD students Noor al Mehairbi (NYUAD '17), Ahlam al Qasim (NYUAD '17), and Amal al Ali (NYUAD '15), as well as local artist Maitha Demaithan, who was recently featured at Abu Dhabi Art, and Jack Lee, a Chinese artist who creates art in the Arabic tradition.
Ultimately, the University's National Day celebration promises to be unique. "For NYUAD, National Day is more than just a celebration of Emirati pride," al Mansoori said. "We want to come together with all the people who created this country in celebration of another year of success. Even if you are a first-year student who just came here, we celebrate the collaboration across all communities."