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UAE commemorates dead servicemen in national holiday

With Yemen casualties rising, the day of remembrance recognises sacrifices of UAE citizens who died while serving their country
A collage of Emirati citizens who died in the service of their country (The National)

The UAE is observing its first national day to commemorate citizens who died while serving civil, humanitarian and military services both inside and outside the country.

A one-minute silence was held at 11:30 am local time on Monday. The day was declared by UAE ruler Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahyan earlier this year as an annual holiday, and remembers the sacrifices of Emiratis who died in the line of duty. 

The UAE has suffering scores of casualties as a lead military force in the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen since March.

“Today, we all stand as the sons of the UAE to uphold the values of giving and fulfilment in recognition of the constellation of heroes who have made generous sacrifices of blood and precious lives for the redemption of the homeland and the nation, and in defence of the principles of legality and the values of truth and justice,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed said. 

"Commemoration Day will ingrain in the hearts of generations to come the love, loyalty and belonging to the homeland," Sheikh Mansour added.

In the largest casualty suffered by the country recently, 52 Emirati soldiers were killed on 4 September in Yemen in what was reportedly an ambush by the rebel Zaidi militia the Houthis.

Lieutenant Ahmad al-Balushi, from Dubai Police’s Human Rights Department, was quoted by the Emirati daily The National as saying that the majority of UAE citizens knew someone or have relatives in the armed forces.

“This event is to remember the martyrs and honour them and it’s something very simple compared with the great thing that they have done,” he said. “They are our pride, and we hope they rest in peace.”

The UAE cabinet met at the Muwaiji Palace in al-Ain to carry out prayers for their servicemen.

The prime minister, vice president and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum spoke of the building’s importance as the site for the country’s rulers to meet on Commemoration Day.

“Our meeting today is evidence of its significance and value in the minds of Emiratis, and that will always remain, as it was a place for making crucial decisions and launching initiatives that will improve the lives of the people and ensure a decent life,” he said.

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