April 25th is Anzac Day. Time Out talks to expatriates from New Zealand and Australia about their life in Dubai
What is Anzac Day?
April 25 was officially declared Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia in 1916. It commemorates the Gallipoli Campaign that took place in 1915 and involved the Anzacs (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) attempting to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. While the battle began between two enemies, it played out so that all three nations were brought together by the conflict. Soldiers on both sides admired each other’s courage, bravery, determination, patriotism and spirit. Anzac Day has today become a day of remembrance. Every year Australians, New Zealanders and the Turkish travel to Anzac Cove at Gallipoli to hold a dawn service, reminding themselves of the lives lost and the friendships made. People often wear sprigs of rosemary or poppies to signify the occasion. It is also observed in the Cook Islands – Niue, Samoa and Tonga – to honour their soldiers who also participated in the campaign.
Australia 8,709 New Zealand 2,721 Great Britain 21,255 France (est.) 10,000 India 1,358 Newfoundland 49 Turkey (Ottoman Empire) 86,692
Anzac Day Charity BBQ and shisha party Vista Restaurant, Holiday Inn, Knowledge Village, April 25, 6-10pm. Tickets Dhs249, 04 427 5500.
Anzac Day Dawn Service Waterfront Promenade Arena, Downtown Burj Dubai, April 15, 5.20am. Service will be followed by breakfast at The Address – Dhs85 for adults, Dhs65 for children, 04 436 8928.
Anzac Day BBQ with acoustic sets from Sean O’Shea, music from DJ Mr Doris 360°, April 25, 4pm-2am, 04 406 8769.
BBQ Includes a variety of special offers, including the much acclaimed vegemite pizza. Aussie Legends, April 25, 12 noon-3am, 04 398 2222.
Friday brunch With a New Zealand and Australian themed menu and live performance from Australian singer Tye. Yalumba, Le Méridien Dubai, April 24, 04 217 0000.
Andrew Morris, 27, New Zealander
‘Anzac Day is the least we can do to show appreciation for all of the people who have fought in any major wars, not just Gallipoli. I’ve been going to dawn ceremonies since I was a child and they’re all so moving. One year, when I was in high school, I laid a wreath at the ceremony. It was a chance for me to be part of the commemoration rather than just an observer.
‘But what made Gallipoli real for me was my trip there a few weeks ago. Obviously it wasn’t Anzac Day, but nonetheless it was my first time there and seeing everything – the trenches, the headstones – kind of shocked me. While I was wandering around it hit me how real the whole thing was. I read the headstones of the soldiers – they were children, only 18 or 19 years old. It made me shudder. They’ve also set up a small museum with various artefacts, which I managed to explore. It’s just an indescribable feeling.
‘I think Gallipoli did bring all three countries, New Zealand, Australia and Turkey, together. We all fought the same battle and both sides lost lives. And the fact that Turkey has named the area Anzac Cove shows an acknowledgement of the Anzac lives lost. While it was a deadly battle to be locked in, it had an almost humane feel to it. Knowing that it means so much to so many people makes me think we may have learned from the tragedy.’
Thomas Miers, 29, Australian
‘For me Anzac Day is a day when we stop and remember all those people who sacrificed their lives in war. Throughout the world there’s one commemoration method: the dawn service on April 25. It’s held at sunrise and includes a two-minute silence, a gunfire salute, and some time to mingle with the retired servicemen. It’s usually followed by a brunch of some sort. The commemoration at Gallipoli is tremendous though. Thousands of people make their way there and it’s a real tribute. I’ve never been to it myself, but it’s on my to-do list.
‘New Zealand and Australia have strong relations, and it may not solely be because of the Anzacs, but they did have an effect. Anzac Day has become a large part of shaping the national identities of both nations. I can also appreciate the Turkish government for wanting to commemorate and remember the event. They lost lives too, and it’s important for both sides to keep that in mind. It seems that we’ve managed to come together through the conflict.
‘Anzac Day was a part of our school curriculum but we heard about it outside of school as well. It’s important for future generations to be aware of the event. I would hate to think that it could be forgotten. Anzac Day doesn’t just represent Gallipoli, it represents every life lost due to battle. Unfortunately, as humans, we’re pretty bad when it comes to learning from our mistakes, but if we remember such events maybe we can make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.’
Ege Tamci, 26, Turkey
‘What happened at Gallipoli was a tragedy; so many lives were unnecessarily lost. Yet both sides admired the other, and the battle was civilised in a sense. The Anzacs refused to keep gas masks because they knew that the Turks wouldn’t stoop that low.
‘Unfortunately, I have never managed to go to Gallipoli myself. But I think it’s something every Turkish, Australian and New Zealander must do at least once. Everyone I know who has been has told me how unbelievable the experience is. Going down there and seeing the reality of everything, it makes you remember what a heartbreaking event it was.
‘Anzac Day has always been part of our school curriculum. During school we used to write letters to Anzacs and make display boards about the battle every year; it’s a part of our history, a part of who we are. I think it’s important that future generations are aware of the event too. We have a saying in Turkey, “If you do not know your past you can not build your future.”
‘I always talk about Gallipoli, especially as April 25 comes closer. My friends and I discuss it and remember it, so it’s like having our own commemoration. But it would be better if I could be in Turkey for this occasion. Experiencing it there is something else entirely.’