Edited by Anna Popper

Unity Day is a significant occasion in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), commemorated annually on the 2nd December, marking the anniversary of the UAE’s formation as a federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al-Quwain, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah. The day holds immense importance as it symbolizes the unity, solidarity and shared vision of the seven emirates that merged to form the United Arab Emirates in 1971 under the leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, known for being the principal driving force behind uniting seven emirates and is revered as Waalid al-Ummah (Father of the Nation) in the United Arab Emirates.

In a vibrant celebration of cultural harmony, a grand Unity Day reception organised by the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Budapest was held at the prestigious Museum of Fine Arts.

This momentous event, which served as a symbol of the strong bond between the UAE and Hungary, reflecting the shared values of mutual respect and understanding, brought together Hungarian officials, dignitaries, members of the diplomatic corps, as well as representatives of the business, cultural, academic circles, artists, and members of the UAE community to mark the 52nd Unity Day of the United Arab Emirates, highlighting the nation’s commitment to diversity, inclusivity and global cooperation. Guests were greeted with traditional Emirati hospitality, immersing them in the rich culture and heritage of the country.

The evening commenced with the national anthems of the United Arab Emirates and Hungary, performed by soprano Fatima al Hashimi.

This was followed by the warm welcome from His Excellency Saud Al Shamsi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Hungary, to the large audience, including the Guest of Honour, Mr. János Csák, Minister of Culture and Innovation of Hungary. In his address, the Ambassador reaffirmed the UAE’s unwavering commitment to promoting peace, tolerance and cooperation on the global stage. He emphasized the importance of dialogue and collaboration in addressing shared challenges and advancing common goals, echoing the UAE’s vision of a more inclusive and harmonious world:

“Ladies and gentlemen!

On behalf of my family, my team at the Embassy, our business partners from the Emirates present, as well as the university students studying here, the Hungarian companies that are thriving in my country and all those who consider themselves part of the UAE family: thank you for celebrating with us tonight the 52nd anniversary of the unification of our Emirates, my beloved country, the United Arab Emirates.

My dear friends, in my celebratory speech last year and in almost every speech I have made since then, I emphasized that the true wealth of the United Arab Emirates lies in the wisdom and determination of our leaders, not in oil – which will run out sooner or later. Wisdom is eternal.

The vision of our country, whose solid foundations were built by Sheikh Zayed and his brothers, remains strong and true to this day. This is best illustrated by listening to Sheikh Zayed himself in the video: https://youtu.be/2Z-xIeb0bS4

Wisdom of Sheikh Zayed: ‘The present, the fruits of which we are now reaping, gives us the drive towards tomorrow and strengthens our resolve to work for the future. Our fate is common. There is no fate for one state, and a fate for another state, or a fate of an individual while others have a different fate, our fate is one. The concern is one, and the interest is one. We lived in happiness, and we lived in happiness after we built it and after we paid attention to it, and we will remain persistent and diligent pursuing everything that will make us all happy. What you have built is on its way to more strength, prosperity and progress. Nothing is ever immortal, ever… Neither man is immortal nor money. What is immortal is the nation and man’s deeds. Every one of us is remembered for our deeds.’

Indeed, nothing is immortal except our nation and our deeds. What matters is what we do, what we build for future generations. What we solve together to ensure a better life for our children. That should always be the goal, no matter where we come from. But the question is: how do we do this? My friends, it’s simple… We work together, with each other and with other nations, based on shared values and common visions, and with the determination to create a win-win situation… This is how we do it in the UAE…

We have created one of the most advanced infrastructures and environments in the business world, where everyone can thrive easily. Regarding environmental protection, the United Arab Emirates hosted the COP28 conference in Dubai in late November 2023, which brought the world together and played a vital role in ensuring that all nations are committed to tackling the challenges of climate change. Warm welcome to Katalin Novák, President of Hungary, leading the Hungarian delegation to the United Arab Emirates.

In science and technology, we have proven that space and artificial intelligence are not a risk but an opportunity for nations. In the UN Security Council, the United Arab Emirates has always sought to create long-term solutions with other members, with a considered and balanced approach, and my country has always stood for peaceThis is the United Arab Emirates, a great country with great people. Let’s talk about people!

My dear friends, the lasting bond between nations begins with their compatriots. Only when relationships are established and shared values are discovered can trade and cooperation flourish in many areas. Fortunately, Hungarians and Emiratis have a lot in common. In 2023, we have seen many great examples of joint cooperation between the two nations. I personally saw the flawless performance of the Hungarian State Opera House and the National Ballet troupe, who performed to full houses at the Dubai Opera multiple times during their tour. Hungary was the Guest of Honour at the Heritage Days Festival in Sharjah. The number of tourists travelling between the two countries is increasing significantly. Businesses and investors coming here recognize the potential and often tell me that Hungary suits us in every way.

Ladies and gentlemen, our compatriots matter, and of course our family matters, our history, our art and our business matter. Tonight will be a joint celebration of our compatriots and our countries. We all have a common mission to initiate, innovate and collaborate to make this world a better place and to strengthen the relations between our countries. Each of you represents an academic institution, a business or a government agency. It is up to all of us to continue to do great things with the UAE. And I will always be here to help.

After the Ambassador’s remarks the Guest of Honour, Mr. János Csák, Minister of Culture and Innovation of Hungary took the floor and, on behalf of the Hungarian government, conveyed congratulations and best wishes for the Leaders and the people of the United Arab Emirates on the occasion of their National Day.

Unveiling of the Portrait of Sheikh Zayed, the Father of the Nation

The official part of the event concluded with a momentous unveiling: the portrait of Sheikh Zayed (6 May 1918 – 2 November 2004), the revered founder of the UAE. This captivating portrait, a testament to Sheikh Zayed’s enduring legacy and visionary leadership, was brought to life by talented Hungarian artist László Gulyás.

Commissioned by H.E. Saud Al Shamsi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Hungary, the painter embarked on a creative journey to capture the essence of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahya’s remarkable life and contributions to the UAE and the world at large.

Drawing inspiration from Sheikh Zayed’s profound commitment to peace, progress and prosperity, Gulyás poured his artistic talents into crafting a portrait that would honour the legacy of the UAE’s founding father. The unveiling of the portrait marked a tribute to Sheikh Zayed’s visionary leadership and unwavering dedication to his nation and its people. As the curtains were drawn back, revealing the striking likeness of Sheikh Zayed, the audience was captivated by the artistry and emotion encapsulated within the portrait.

For László Gulyás, the opportunity to depict Sheikh Zayed was a great honour, an artistic endeavour and a profound tribute to a leader, whose enduring spirit continues to inspire countless individuals around the world. Through meticulous brushstrokes and a keen eye for detail, Gulyás gave the portrait a sense of dignity, wisdom and compassion that defined Sheikh Zayed’s illustrious legacy. The portrait truly reflected Sheikh Zayed’s transformative intentions, which laid the foundation for the UAE’s remarkable journey of progress and development. From the desert sands of Abu Dhabi to the bustling metropolises of Dubai and beyond, Sheikh Zayed has left an indelible mark on the UAE’s landscape, shaping its identity as a beacon of innovation, tolerance and prosperity. Also reminding Sheikh Zayed’s unwavering commitment to building bridges of understanding and cooperation across cultures and continents.

One of the focal points of the event was the vibrant showcase of Emirati culture with exquisite displays of traditional attire, captivating artworks, folklore music and dance performances, representing the essence of Emirati identity and heritage. Through these artistic expressions, guests had the opportunity to gain valuable insights and deeper appreciation for the cultural intricacies of the United Arab Emirates.

The reception also served as a platform for cultural exchange and dialogue, providing attendees with insights into the UAE’s remarkable journey of progress and development. Moreover, the event offered a glimpse into Emirati cuisine, tantalizing the senses with an array of delectable dishes and traditional delicacies, and inviting guests to savour the flavours of the Emirates. As the evening unfolded, the friendly spirit permeated the atmosphere, transcending cultural boundaries and fostering meaningful connections among attendees.

Sources: Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Budapest

Photos by DPA