Chief Guest Mr Qais Al Dhalai is welcomed in the Traditional Itaukei custom.

By Kelepi Abariga
United Arab Emirates
Members of the Fijian Community residing in the United Arab Emirates including Friends of Fiji , converged at the luxurious Etihad Towers in the capital city Abu Dhabi, as the Ambassador Robin Nair and staff of the Mission hosted their first ever Fiji Day Celebrations over the weekend, this being the first since the opening of the Embassy by Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama on 2nd September, 2012.
Chief Guest and Secretary-General of the UAE Rugby Federation, Mr Qais Al Dhalai, was welcomed with the beating sounds of the Fijian lali, as he entered the celebration venue, where the national anthems of the UAE and Fiji preceded the evenings program before the Chief Guest was accorded a traditional Fijian ceremony of sevusevu to welcome his presence. 
 Ambassador Nair said that the presence of Mr Dhalai, was coincidental, as the Fiji Embassy and the UAE Rugby Federation had established a Memorandum of Understanding whereby the Fiji Rugby Union would assist its UAE counterpart by providing expertise to assist in the development of Sevens Rugby in the Emirates.
Former Fiji Rugby Sevens Fitness Trainer, and retired School Teacher, Mr Epeli Lagiloa was the first Fiji National to be contracted by the UAE Rugby Federation under the MOU signed in 2012.
Mr Dhalai in acknowledging the invitation by Ambassador Nair, wished the Fijian Government and its People a prosperous future adding that the UAE was also a young nation which had gained Independence in 1971, but the opportunities for expanding their respective bilateral  cooperation was an advantage which Fiji would benefit greatly from.
Ambassador Nair in reciprocating, added that it was crucial for a developing nation like Fiji to maintain and enhance its bilateral and multilateral relations with its respective international partners, adding that the United Arab Emirates remains an integral  stakeholder in which Fiji, as a young and vibrant economy, could learn from.
In quoting from the Fiji Day message by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Ambassador Nair re-emphasized the need for Fellow Fijians to continue working together, as celebrating our National Day was more than just a memory of what had transpired on 10th October, 1970.
” On this Day of all Days, … the essence of Fiji Day is a time to put aside our individual concerns and think about our Nation and what it means to us all as Fijians”
It was also interesting to note the presence of Friends of Fiji like Ramesh Chakkingal, who had worked for more than 4 years for Fiji Woods
Also present were the New Zealand Ambassador, His Excellency Malcom Miller, Ms Asma Rubayee Ahmed Al Menhali from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Managing Director of Universal Hospital Abu Dhabi, Mr Shabeer Nellikode, Development assitance Consutant, Ms Brigeti Mountain Khair, Fijian Pilots,Nurses,Teachers,Hotel workers,Seamen and their respective families and friends, including a former Fiji Sevens Rugby representative and Gau native Saimoni Rokini, representing the Fijian community living and working in Kuwait. ENDS 


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