Washington, DC (December 2, 2020) – Today, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Washington, DC celebrated the country’s 49th National Day through a virtual program that highlighted the UAE’s shared achievements with partners in 2020, including cooperation to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the launch of the Hope Probe to Mars and the historic signing of the Abraham Accords between the UAE and Israel.

The live event, which was viewed online by people from around the world, featured dozens of National Day greetings from prominent Emiratis and Americans, who also spoke about their partnership with UAE organizations to build cultural connections, address global challenges and create economic prosperity.

“While 2020 has presented unprecedented challenges, the UAE has been resilient and accomplished amazing things,” said Ambassador Al Otaiba. “Our friends in the US played a critical and helpful role, with the result of bringing our two countries even closer together.”

“As we mark the 49th anniversary of the UAE’s founding, we celebrate the progress our country has made to fulfill the vision of our founder, Sheikh Zayed,” Ambassador Al Otaiba continued. “At the same time, we look ahead and continue on our path to build a better future, grounded in tolerance, peace and innovative solutions to the challenges of the 21st century.”

During the program, President George W. Bush made a surprise guest appearance to congratulate the UAE on the 49th anniversary of its founding and wish the country well for its future. “The UAE is a strong and dependable partner in a complex region,” he said. “The United States is fortunate to call you a friend. For decades, our countries have worked together to maintain security and create prosperity.”

Special guest Chef José Andrés thanked the UAE for its support and spoke with Ambassador Al Otaiba about his organization World Central Kitchen’s efforts to help those in need during the pandemic.

“I know we are in different countries, with different flags, different religions. And sometimes they try to tell us that we are all different, when actually in my experience after disasters, we are all not so different from each other,” said Andrés. “We are all the same children of God. We are all the same people. We love to work to help others. We have empathy and in the worst of moments, the best always shines through.”

Later, the Ambassador talked to comedian and entertainer Steve Harvey about his experience in the UAE, and the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Harvey described his experience visiting the UAE, saying, “I tell people that they should go see the UAE for themselves. Be open and experience it. You won’t believe the warmth of the culture, the acceptance of you being who you are.”

Embassy diplomats also paid tribute to the work of Emirati medical professionals in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighted the successful repatriation of Emirati nationals and UAE residents in the US, and underscored the UAE’s commitment to global cooperation to address the pandemic. ​

Leaders from Embassy partners also sent well wishes and thanks to the UAE, including the Anti-Defamation League; Children’s National Hospital; Cleveland Metropolitan School District; the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary; the Midnight Mission; Monumental Sports & Entertainment; NASA; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Smithsonian Institution; the San Diego Zoo; Special Olympics; and United Way of Collier and the Keys.