- As the UAE gears up to host COP28, the 250-square-meter ‘Pookalam’, marking the Indian harvest festival Onam, reflects the 17 Sustainable Development Goals
- His Excellency Sunjay Sudhir, Ambassador of India to UAE, and Emirati officials attend Burjeel Medical City’s unique celebration of sustainability and diversity
Abu Dhabi: Kickstarting the celebrations of the Indian harvest festival Onam in the UAE, healthcare workers in the country came together to spread the message of sustainability and cultural diversity through a stunning and unique floral carpet. Laying out a 250-square-meter ‘Pookalam’, the frontliners offered a floral tribute to the UAE’s Year of Sustainability and the COP28 Climate Change Conference the country will be hosting this year.
The sprawling floral carpet had been meticulously designed to mirror the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations. It featured an array of colorful flowers carefully arranged to showcase the essence of goals — no poverty, zero hunger, and climate action — along with others. It took 1,000 people around 15 hours to prepare the breathtaking creation. The ‘Pookalam’ served as a visual reminder of the pressing global challenges and the collective responsibility to address them.
Cultural performances took center stage as the healthcare workers showcased their heritage through song, dance, and other activities.
For A Sustainable Future
His Excellency Sunjay Sudhir, Ambassador of India to UAE, who attended the event with his family as Chief Guest, encouraged the attendees to promote a greener and more sustainable future.
“Amid the vibrant colors of Onam, I feel inspired to see the harmony of tradition and sustainability coming together. This celebration pays homage to the rich heritage of India, while also aligning with the UAE’s commitment to sustainability in the year it is hosting COP28. The unique Pookalam is a reminder that our actions today will shape the world for future generations,” said His Excellency Sudhir.
Dignitaries, including His Excellency Mohmmed Ahmed Al Yamahi, Deputy President of the Arab Parliament, Member of federal national council, UAE, and the International Council of Tolerance, and Her Excellency Naema Al Sharhan, Member of the Federal National Council, participated in this unique Onam celebration with great enthusiasm.
“It has been an enriching experience participating in this unique cultural celebration at Burjeel Medical City. Just like each of us cherish our traditions, we must commit ourselves to nurturing a greener planet,” said His Excellency Al Al Yamahi.
Cultural Diversity in Focus
Adding to the event’s significance was the participation of healthcare workers from around 30 different nationalities, symbolizing unity and collaboration on an international level.
Shuq Almemari, an Emirati national who works in the Administration Department at Burjeel Medical City, was thrilled to take part in the celebrations. “This is my first time being a part of Onam celebrations. I was happy to help arrange the beautiful floral carpet and was fascinated by the required artistic skills. I also enjoyed learning more about Indian culture by watching the performances put up by my colleagues,” said Shuq.
Staff members from different Emirates, their family members, patients, and the senior leadership team at Burjeel Holdings also took part in the event. John Sunil, Group CEO of Burjeel Holdings, emphasized the group’s dedication to aligning business practices with environmental responsibility. He stated, “Our celebration of Onam this year at Burjeel Medical City reminds us that cultural heritage and sustainable practices can go hand in hand. By depicting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through this stunning floral carpet, we hope to inspire meaningful conversations and actions that contribute to building a brighter future for all. The Onam festivities also exemplify our dedication to fostering a sense of camaraderie among our diverse workforce.”
As part of Burjeel Holdings’ ongoing climate change challenge in collaboration with Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, the event also offered high school students a platform to convey their climate change messages. More than two dozen students from different schools in the UAE held up colorful signs to inspire action.
The festivities concluded with the traditional Onam feast being served to the attendees as part of the celebration.