The friendship between the people of the UAE and the people of Ireland has not only benefited both but has also "contributed to global understanding and cooperation," Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said last night.
He was speaking at a reception at the Irish Embassy residence to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in the Irish capital, Dublin. The short-lived Rising, against British rule, is widely seen as the moment of the re-birth of an independent Irish state.
The programme of events for the evening included poems from two of Ireland's greatest poets, W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, music, Irish dancing and readings from the last letters of some of the Easter Rising leaders, written before their execution.
"I am very confident that this proven friendship will be strengthened further in the future and that Ireland and the United Arab Emirates will move forward together in the quest for a better and more peaceful world," Sheikh Nahyan said.
"Irish businesses and Irish professionals are flourishing in the UAE and contributing immensely to the economic, educational, and social well-being of our country," he added.
"Your friends and relatives are visiting the UAE and our citizens increasingly travel to Ireland for tourism and for education," he told guests at the event, who included many members of the UAE's Irish community. "Our citizens increasingly travel to Ireland for tourism and for education. They admire your industry, stability, and devotion to scholarship and the arts. They appreciate the physical and spiritual beauty of Ireland."
The Minister added that he believed that the people of both countries shared the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the need 'to continue to create a confident, secure society and to build a sustainable, open and globally competitive economy.' "We all work toward realising that vision on a daily basis in both the UAE and Ireland," he said.
The event, Sheikh Nahyan said, reminded him that "Irish celebrations ruminate thoughtfully on the past, boldly confront the present, and bravely exult in the future. And, of course, an Irish celebration is inevitably poetic."
Noting that the Easter Rising had been what he described as "an astounding historical event," he recalled the statement of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa that 'A nation that does not celebrate its founding pioneers and grand leaders has no future.' Acknowledging the significance of the Rising and its commemoration, Sheikh Nahyan quoted one of the best-known works of Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney.
"You," he told the audience, "are remembering because even today, as we all so regret to admit, 'Human beings suffer, / They torture one another, / They get hurt and get hard.' "We acknowledge those words of Heaney so as to embrace his injunction to, and I quote: 'Believe that further shore / Is reachable from here.' "
Those words, he concluded, not only serve as a motivation for the people of Ireland, but "motivate all of us as well."