Malaysians celebrate unity in diversity on 61st Independence Day

Center holding the sword H.E Dato’ Yubazlan Bin Haji Yusof, Consul General of Malaysia in Dubai during the Malaysian National Day celebration in the House of H.E Dato’ Yubazlan Bin Haji Yusof, Consul General of Malaysia in Dubai, Dubai.

Dubai: Unity in diversity is the core value holding Malaysia together as a nation that is home to many different ethnicities. This was visible as Malaysian expatriates in Dubai celebrated their country’s 61st Independence Day on Friday.

It is the day that mark’s the Southeast Asian nation’s freedom from British colonial rule, on August 31, 1957.

Celebrating with families and friends over breakfast at the Malaysian Consul General’s official residence in Dubai, more than 200 Malaysian expats from diverse backgrounds toasted the “variety that makes their national so beautiful.”

“It’s OK to be different. Different, yet we are all the same. This is the theme of our celebrations this year, as we mark the emergence of a new Malaysia,” said Yubazlan Yusuf, Consul General of Malaysia to Dubai.

The breakfast event was held at his residence for all Malaysians, to offer the expats a family feeling.

“As expatriates living outside the home country, people miss their homes, especially on a national day when people celebrate with much fanfare back home. So, bringing people together over traditional Malaysian food and helping them socialise wearing ethnic dress gives people a feeling of being close to home,” said Yusuf, dressed in national attire.

Traditional, homemade food, brought by different families representing various ethnic groups like Malay, Chinese and Indian, were served during the event.

The breakfast followed the singing of the national anthem, other patriotic songs and a short speech by the consul general.

Home away from home

More than 3,500 Malaysians live and work in Dubai and Northern Emirates, while around 7,000 in total call the UAE their second home.

Women and children sat on the floor, enjoying their meals, while many others socialised with their friends and compatriots.

“This is a good event to get together, catch up with new friends and get to know new people. It also helps to stay in touch with your culture away from home,” said Abdul Malik, a petroleum industry executive.

His friend Fahmy Dahlan, the vice president of the Malaysian Business Council Dubai, agreed. “When you are overseas, it is important to stay connected with the people of your country and there is no better time to revive your bonds than on Independence Day. Everyone comes together and all of us get to learn more about each other, especially the children,” said Dahlan, a Dubai resident for more than 10 years.

Sarinda Satria, a housewife, said she misses her home, especially during festive times like Independence Day.

“The celebrations are not the same here. At home, we celebrate with much more pomp and fanfare. But at least we have some celebrations here and I thank the consul general for that,” said Satria, who moved to the UAE just a year ago.

Her friend, Munira Ismail, said the independence celebration is an opportunity for Malaysians showcase their culture and traditions. “As Malaysians, we take pride in our diverse culture and traditions. We love the fact that Malaysian society is very tolerant and firmly based on coexistence. Today’s event was a perfect reflection of our society,” said Ismail, an IT engineer.

The UAE is Malaysia’s 16th largest trading partner and both countries enjoy an excellent relationship.

In 2017, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $5.8 billion (Dh21.28 billion), with an 8.7 per cent growth compared to 2016.

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