Accession Day – Abu Dhabi’s celebration of Sheikh Zayed

The emirate of Abu Dhabi is a splendid cultural landmark in the Arabian landscape that spans the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Visitors looking to soak up the spectacular offerings of this desert oasis have a choice selection of Abu Dhabi beach hotels to indulge in. A fine Abu Dhabi resort that promises to truly pamper its guests in the spirit of desert hospitality is the Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara. This elegant property’s exclusive interiors and stylish amenities promise an Arabian fantasy experience to rival none other. Accession Day is a holiday of rampant celebration and joy in Abu Dhabi. It commemorates the dawn of a new epoch, when Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan overthrew his brother in a bloodless palace coup on August 6, 1966, to assume the throne of the UAE in Abu Dhabi, the country’s main emirate. In 1971, Sheikh Zayed became president of Abu Dhabi and held the post until his death in 2004. The ruling Sheikh was regarded to be an economic visionary, who completely transformed Abu Dhabi’s cultural landscape during his tenure as the country’s ruler. His reign was marked by reform in pursuit of a liberalized state and he poured much of the country’s wealth into developing its schools, infrastructure and economy. He promoted the popularity of sports among the country’s youth, both men and women. The media was also allowed a large measure of freedom of expression, an unusual feature in an Islamic nation, although it could not criticise the sheikh or his family directly. But to celebrate Sheikh Zayed’s rule, Abu Dhabi explodes into a celebrational whirlwind that lasts for about a week. Many public and private institutions undertake preparations more than a month beforehand to showcase the Sheikh in all manner of vibrancy and colour. Multi-hued trails of fireworks light up Abu Dhabi’s skyline each night in joyful commemoration. Traditional concerts and dances featuring the best talent celebrate the historical figure and his reign. The locals take to the streets in traditional attire, and the vehicles bear the national flag. TV channels feature numerous specials about the day, the figure and the country that was irrevocably changed for the better because of him. Every August 6, Abu Dhabi lets fly its national colours on Accession Day, a fine tribute to the country’s greatest leader.