Celebrating American values was the main sentiment felt across the board by guests enjoying 4th of July at Meydan Racecourse on Wednesday.
A crowd of nearly a 1,000 gathered in a hall inside the racecourse to mark the country’s 236th birthday, as they ate the staples of the American diet, from Kansas coleslaw and Oklahoma potato salad to burgers and hotdogs.
The event was hosted by the American Business Council (ABC) which has been holding the 4th of July celebrations in Dubai for 27 years.
“To find an American community actively celebrating this amazing moment in the United States’ history here in Dubai is phenomenal,” said chairman of the ABC, Bilal Sabouni, as he stood surrounded by US flag buntings.
Sabouni, who is originally from San Francisco, California, has been living in Dubai for the past 14 years. But he can still recall certain traits about the American people he misses.
“We are probably the nicest people in the world, regardless of what you think of the foreign policy. The people of the United States are some the most kind, open-hearted, genuine people you can ever meet,” Sabouni said.
Tanya Spencer, acting principal officer at the US Consulate in Dubai, has been living here for a year. In that time period, Spencer said she’s noticed similarities between the US and UAE’s value for diversity.
“What I appreciate most about both countries is the diversity of culture and the welcoming atmosphere, I found it very pleasant to come to Dubai as it reminded me a lot of home because of the mix of people and because of the hospitality,” Spencer said, whose hometown is San Antonio, Texas.
“We’re all celebrating the birth of our country and its 236th year, this means a lot to Americans.
“And what you’re seeing now is the American community coming together and celebrating the values that we have,” Spencer said, as red, white and blue confetti rained down on guests.
ABC’s president, John Podgore, said 4th of July celebrations in the US are held in outdoor settings traditionally.
But Dubai’s climate had ABC break away from tradition and bring the event indoors, he said.
Podgore also noted that marking the day the US was created offers a lesson anyone can learn from.
“No one handed us our independence. American independence was hard fought and hard won, but it was on this day in 1776 that Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, effectively a legal notice telling the king of England we’re on our own now, thank you very much,” Podgore said, referring to Jefferson, the third US president.
“It’s something to remember, it’s also that aspect of seizing an opportunity. They did it and stayed the course and America in the 21st century is the result.”