AL AIN, UAE,) -- The UK-UAE Year of Culture 2017 was inaugurated in a star-studded ceremony at the historic Jahili Fort in the UAE's inland oasis-city of Al Ain this evening in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall.

The event, attended by other senior dignitaries, ambassadors and officials, was inaugurated on behalf of the UAE by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.

In his speech inaugurating the event, Sheikh Nahyan said: "Tonight we are gathered to inaugurate "UK/UAE 2017: A Year of Creative Collaboration Between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates."

"I am honoured," he said, "to welcome and thank the joint patrons of UK/UAE 2017 - His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Their support signals the grand importance of the collaboration."

"This impressive Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain itself," he continued, "testifies to a vibrant tradition of collaboration between the venerable UK and the Emirates that united into an independent nation just forty-five years ago. Constructed in the 1890s as a summer retreat for Sheikh Zayed the First, the Al Jahili Fort in the 1950s became a primary base for the Trucial Oman Scouts, a local paramilitary force organised and led by British officers. The Trucial Scouts earned the respect of the population as they settled disputes and protected borders. The British-led Scouts were the base upon which the UAE built its own armed forces."

Sheikh Nahyan went on to note that, "Beyond Al Jahili Fort, our country overflows with even more evidence of creative collaboration with the United Kingdom. An invaluable population of UK residents is contributing its knowledge, skills, industry, and good will to the benefit of the UAE. It is said that friends share all things. As friends, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates have shared many things, much to our mutual advantage."

"Most prominent in my mind," he added, "are the values that we have shared - a devotion to our own cultures and a deep respect for and appreciation of other cultures, ethnicities, languages, religions, and beliefs. We have shared the desire for global peace and the safety, prosperity, and well-being of our communities. We have shared the joys of civilisation."

"And now we will share the bounty of UK/UAE 2017 as it highlights the next generation, community, and inclusion, matters of great concern to us all. The UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, with the guidance of the Court of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, will directly support the programme across the Emirates, in conjunction with the British Council, an admirable organisation that has long strengthened the UK-UAE relationship."

The Minister went on to praise the work of The British Council in the UAE for its contributions to cultural understanding between the two countries.

"The British Council," he said, "much in the spirit of Britain's great explorer, Sir Wilfred Thesiger, who is lovingly memorialised here at Al Jahili Fort, has exhibited a passionate Thesiger-like fondness for the artistic, social, and environmental aspects of our culture and has at the same time enabled our appreciation of British culture."

The visit by HRH the Prince of Wales and HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, he added, "declares, and we agree, that Great Britain and the United Arab Emirates have worked well together in practically every field of endeavour and that cooperation among us is essential for shaping a peaceful and prosperous global future. We are greatly honoured by your visit," he added.

The patronage of UK/UAE 2017 by HRH the Prince of Wales and H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was "extraordinary," Sheikh Nahyan said.

"It symbolises the lasting and productive collaboration between our two countries - as we approach the bicentenary of the first formal treaty between the forebears of these distinguished patrons, and as we look forward to achieving even more together over the decades and centuries ahead."

"Long live our special friendship," he concluded

Source: Emirates News Agency