It’s an important day for France. July 14th is when the French celebrate their country’s independence over two centuries ago, but this year it’s also the day before the World Cup where France has made it to the finals for a chance to claim victory after 20 years.
Over a 1,500 guests came out wearing their finest dress, some dawning their gowns and suits with red, white, and blue in the UAE to celebrate the occasion and also another milestone of progress - the French-Emirati cultural dialogue commemorating the decades' long relationship between the two countries.
“We celebrate the values of France, the motto of la Republique but what I also wanted to do tonight was to celebrate the French-Emirati special relations,” said French ambassador to the UAE Ludovic Pouille.
In 2017, the UAE was the only Arab country French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe came to visit within the first six months of his presidency, where they signed a cooperation agreement to further develop relations and launch the Louvre Abu Dhabi, along with it the beginning of a series of joint cultural initiatives.
In February, the French Prime minister and the UAE’s cultural minister Noura Al Kaabi began the first phase of the French-Emirati cultural dialogue to plan projects in the two countries in music, theatre, philosophy and more that will take place with phase two after the summer.
“There will be some surprises but I can tell you there will be some major names notably from French opera, major names from French classical music,” said the ambassador naming exhibitions from the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre, and the Musée des arts décoratifs in the Louvre Abu Dhabi, hinting that there is more to be revealed from the February dialogue.
“Between France and the UAE, the sky is not anymore the limit - space is our limit.”
Signifying the cultural partnership in music was the national anthem of both countries sung by Emirati singer Fatima Al Hashem, receiving applause from notables including the Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and the Minister of Climate Change and Environment Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi.
After the French Ambassador gave his speech about the history and upcoming future of Emirati-French partnership in English and Arabic, the crowd cheered as the French national football team appeared on screen in anticipation of their big game for the World Cup finals.
“It’s been a while coming and I’m very glad to be in the finals and we’re hoping to finish this with a big celebration,” said Nicolas Hobeilah, a French resident in the UAE and football fan after posing with a mock World Cup trophy and a French flag bow tie in anticipation of his country’s victory.
Many were very confident that France would win, even giving a play-by-play of how the Francophone nation will earn the gold trophy.
“Two-one, maybe a goal from Griezmann another one from Mbappé and that’s it, we are very hopeful that twenty years later we will get our World Cup again,” said Sarah El Khwass at the reception.
Others were swept away by the mood of the event, remembering a history of independence, a future of more partnership between the UAE and France, with a possible World Cup win.
“It’s a very significant event and I was very happy and touched with the speech that the French ambassador gave inside,” said Emirati national Abdullah Al Hashemi, who was impressed with the ambassador’s level of Arabic while delivering his speech.
“I hope they become successful tomorrow in the match and we continue celebrating the national day after they win the finals and become the World Cup champions.”
With all eyes on tonight’s match, French and Emiratis in the UAE and millions all over the world will be united in watching the outcome of the 2018 World Cup finals.