Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) has marked the occasion of the UAE’s 46th National Day with a series of activities for staff, family and friends.

It has become a tradition in recent years for the aviation and travel group to observe the birth of the nation with a cultural programme at its Abu Dhabi headquarters. The highly anticipated event draws thousands of staff and their loved ones each year, with previous attractions ranging from food trucks and orchestras to falconry exhibitions and talent shows.

The focus of this year’s celebration, which was held today ahead of the Martyrs’ Day and National Day holidays this weekend, was the Year of Giving, with visitors donating money to local charities.

Children from Emirates National School gave a magnificent dance performance for delighted onlookers, but it was a poetry recital by a young student that stole everyone’s hearts.

Other activities and entertainment included traditional Emirati dishes such as qemat, ragaag, kebabs and Omani halwa cooked at live stations by Emirati women; games such as carrom and hopscotch; henna designs and manicures; a bazaar featuring products from local businesses; as well as a dedicated children’s area.

Ray Gammell, EAG Interim Chief Executive Officer, said: “Today we come together – Emiratis and UAE-based staff of more than 150 nationalities – and celebrate this country we all call home. We are still a young country, but together we have achieved a lot in 46 years. As the Year of Giving draws to an end, I encourage everyone to continue supporting humanitarian efforts and contributing to our community.

“National Day is always a special occasion for Emiratis and for the expatriates who make up the rich fabric of our society. On behalf of the Etihad Aviation Group, I would like to wish everyone a happy National Day.”

Khaled Almehairbi, EAG Senior Vice President Abu Dhabi Airport, who also overlooks Corporate Social Responsibility across EAG, called on staff and visitors to remember the principles on which the country was founded: “We all bear the responsibility of continuing this journey of success which was started by our great leaders.

“During the Year of Giving Etihad distributed Eid Al Fitr gifts at a home for the elderly in Abu Dhabi, and gathered 3,000 laborers for Iftar during the holy month of Ramadan. We worked with Emirates Red Crescent at the Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp and supported more than 2,000 Syrian refugee children to pursue their studies under our global education project in Jordan.

“These are just a few examples of our charitable initiatives giving back to others. But every one of us can give back to ourselves, families, work and our country through loving, working hard, volunteering and donations.”