One of the great things about UAE National Day is that you never know what you’re going to get; the only thing that is for certain is that it won’t be an understated affair. For the country’s 51st National Day on 2 December 2022, the National Projects Office once again wanted to make a major statement, and it commissioned the Abu Dhabi office of creative agency, People, which worked alongside Creative Director, Es Devlin, to produce a spectacular ceremony at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).
With Devlin’s previous UAE National Day creations including a giant rotating cube in the Abu Dhabi mangroves for the 49th National Day and a gargantuan seed-shaped structure floating above Hatta Dam for the 50th, producing something that would live up to previous years was far from an easy task. The 51stNational Day celebration took the form of a 108m-long ‘time tunnel’ sandwiched in between two portals, with one end representing the past and one the future.
Featuring 35 Emirati musicians, 67 members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and an extensive cast of over 3,000, the show charts premiered to an invited VIP audience on 2 December, before being played out to the public for a further nine days consecutively.
The performance looked back on the first half a century of life in the UAE, before looking forward to what may lie ahead for the country in the next 50 years, touching upon subjects that are cornerstones of the UAE’s ethos, such as sustainability, connectivity and even space exploration. “What is illustrated in the show is that while the UAE is a country that is accelerating at rapid pace, the core values remain strong,” explained People’s Project and Marketing Director, Rachel Sweeney. “While the UAE is blasting off into space, tradition and heritage are still at the forefront and run through everything the country does.”