I had to do a double-post today in homage to two very dear countries: Palestine: my heart line, the blood that runs through my veins and the soul of the person I am. And the UAE: my life line, the place where I was born, lived most of my life and to which I most belong.
Today the UAE celebrates 41 years of independence and the unification of the seven Emirates (Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaima, Fujeirah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain. I love this time of year back home not only because we get a long weekend but also because the nationalistic pride that emerges always humbles me. I love the over the top decorations of the local’s cars, the 100ft flags that adorn their villas, the national costumes and the extravagant celebrations that typically involve several parades, an air show and a series of incredible firework displays. Having been born there I have witnessed the remarkable changes this country has spawned over the past couple decades and am proud to be part of the diversity, vision and growth that HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Nahyan first began and HH Sheikh Mohammed now continues with rapid speed.
Happy 41st National Day UAE!!!
But I am also celebrating a bigger win. The recognition and upgrade of my heart country from Non-Member Observer Entity to Non-Member Observer State at the UN last week.
Today, our President Mahmoud Abbas returned from New York to cheering flag-waving crowds and a true hero’s welcome after this historic feat. He gave a touching speech that was inspiring and gave hope. My favorite line was.. “the world is on our side” and indeed this feat has felt this way as he reassured thousands of Palestinians around the world that the international community clearly stood behind the Palestinian people.
Many will argue that this step forward will not change much and that may in fact carry some truth because without the acknowledgment of Israel and the U.S., the U.N.’s recognition of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 boundaries is largely a symbolic move.
But to us Palestinians, this recognition qualifies as an important endorsement of the legitimacy of our claims to statehood. Under UN observer “entity” we previously had no voting rights. The new status is an indirect recognition of the Palestinians’ claims on statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip and places the Palestinians in the same category as the Vatican. Apparently Switzerland was also a non-member observer state for more than 50 years until 2002. That fact was new to me! More concretely, it also permits Palestine to join several UN agencies including the International Criminal Court.
Here, I want to take the opportunity to say thank-you to my newly adopted country France for being one of the 138 nations who voted yes. Yes to a Palestinian state. Yes to justice. Yes to freedom.
I hope I live to see the day when my red, white, green & black flutters over my beloved city Jerusalem.
*All photos here are courtesy of one of my favorite French people in the world and one of the coolest French teachers ever.. fresh from Dubai’s parade on Emaar Boulevard…thanks Isabelle! x