Carol Maddison, UAE Manager, VisitBritain
British expatriates across the UAE are abuzz with activity and excitement over celebrations for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the UK’s most highly anticipated Royal nuptials since the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer 30 years ago.
Many British expats are planning to attend home or street parties on April 29, the day of the wedding, such as Jane Drury, founder of popular expatriate website ExpatWoman.com, who has a seen phenomenal amount of discussion about the wedding on her website since news of the engagement was announced last November.
“As with most weddings, women are more interested than men. The general ‘word on the street’ is that women will be watching the occasion and many are organising something special for the day – a good excuse to have a bit of fun and dress up, with some themes being; ‘garden party’ or ‘must wear a hat’, and my personal favourite, ‘must wear your wedding dress,” revealed Drury.
“A friend has organised a two-tier party – girlfriends upstairs with a big screen and sofas on the roof for serious wedding-watching, and husbands and kids in the garden, not interrupting and cooking the BBQ. Sounds like a good plan, keeping everyone happy,” she added.
Others will be heading to the official Royal Wedding event at the British Embassy in Dubai where families from the British community and beyond will enjoy the televised ceremony at a ‘traditional street party’ on the Embassy’s lawns, there will also be a specially erected VIP Majlis.
Guy Warrington, Consul General for the British Embassy said: “It’s going to be a memorable day for the large British community in Dubai and many others including those from the Commonwealth. We are particularly delighted to host so many of our Emirati friends. We hope all our guests will enjoy the celebrations we have in store, such as our street party, and will soak up the atmosphere on this very special day.”
The Royal Wedding comes just five months after the UK’s Queen and Prince Philip visited the UAE which saw relations between the two nations strengthen. Many in the UAE’s British expatriate community now hope that a visit from the newly-weds will further cement tourism and business ties.
“William and Kate are seen as a very modern couple and I believe a visit to the UAE would most definitely boost links between UK and UAE. William and Kate’s profile is a great asset for Britain as they studied at St Andrews in Scotland and after the wedding will live in North Wales, where the Prince is serving within the RAF, so they will be key to promoting destinations across the UK that are not so well known by UAE travellers,” said Carol Maddison, UAE Manger for VisitBritain, the UK’s national tourism agency.
“The UK and UAE have much in common, and have a relationship spanning over 200 years. Royal celebrations are important in both countries, and the marriage of William and Catherine is no exception. The wedding is also the perfect lead in to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and to the Olympics in 2012, all of which will reinforce what a fabulous place Britain is for holidays and business opportunities,” added Mark Beer, Chairman and CEO of British Business Group (BBG) Dubai and Northern Emirates.
Back in the summer of 1981 the Royal Wedding of Charles and Di attracted one billion television viewers. This year’s wedding is expected to attract hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, including those who will follow the celebrations via social media, resulting in renewed interest in British culture.
“TV and media coverage will be immense and the positive goodwill generated by a couple who are seen, especially abroad, as espousing the best of British culture and class. This should create a positive vibe for Britain as a whole to take advantage of, in terms of trade and business opportunities. One only has to remember the influence Princess Diana exercised over so many people from diverse backgrounds during her lifetime,” said Leo Fewtrell, General Manager of Dubai Travel and Tour Agents Group.
“Everyone envies the British pomp and ceremony. Being outside the UK gives a different perspective, it’s an opportunity for Britain to showcase something that is unique and of course eminently marketable,” concluded Drury.