Scottish expats have been celebrating Burns' Night, a major national festival, around the capital over the weekend. Though the night itself fell on January 25, most Scots have marked the occasion during the weekend.

By Tim Newbold (Staff Reporter)

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 27 Jan 2006, 1:50 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:25 PM

Burns' Night commemorates the presumed birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns who lived from the mid to late eighteenth century.

Among the estimated 10,000 Britons living in Abu Dhabi, there is a sizeable chunk of Scots. There are no official figures but their numbers are believed to run into the thousands. Many have been partying hard in the last few days in memory of their national bard.

Last night a formal Burns' Night dinner was held by the St Andrew's Society, the main Scottish group based locally, at The Club, attended by around 120 people. Men donned kilts — knee-length skirts usually made of tartan wool — in company with their wives for a knees-up.

Other Scots have celebrated with friends and family in their homes. One such person is Sarah Batla who, along with her husband, hosted a party at her home.

"There have been a lot of parties," she said. "At the traditional Burns' Night the men toast the ladies and the ladies all reply and toast the laddies. Then there is a series of Burns poems that are read out and at the end of the night people sing 'Auld Lange Syne'. That is very formal and is quite regimented, though. Most Scots celebrate informally."

Haggis is the centrepiece of the meal and is made of minced mutton, offal, oatmeal and spices boiled in a sheep's stomach. Auld Lange Syne — or literally 'old long since' or 'long ago' — which is belted out with gusto when the night reaches its climax, is also sung by all British people when the clock strikes midnight to bring in the Gregorian New Year on January 1.

Steven Anderson, another Scottish expat, said: "Burns' Night is not only about celebrating our national poet, it's also an opportunity to express our national identity, culture and history, and to enjoy the company of fellow clansmen."

He added: "The official format is that you would normally pipe in the haggis with a piper. Then you address the haggis, which means you say the Burns poem as you are cutting it up. You usually splutter a few Burns poems throughout the night."

More news from