Wearing a red traditional dress with my mother placing white flowers in my hair is my earliest memory of National Day.
We were preparing for my school taking part in festivities at Bahrain National Stadium, where thousands of young faces from different backgrounds gathered to celebrate a land that united us, a land that protected us.
As a first grader I remember standing on the grass looking up at the flag-waving crowds and feeling so small.
The towering stands around us seemed to close in as our tiny bodies mustered up the courage to sing and dance.
I don’t think any of us fully grasped the profound and beautiful meaning behind the patriotic songs or even the accomplishments spoken of into the microphone – we were simply children enjoying the festive atmosphere.
Now as a Bahraini woman in my 30s, I walk into the stadium still feeling small.
But this time in the towering stands I see the first Arab woman to preside over the UN General Assembly, the first female judge in the Gulf, and the first woman to be elected Parliament speaker.
My generation has been lucky enough to have witnessed, in our early adulthood, the magnificent transformation our country has undergone... socially, economically and politically.
So, when you see grown men and women hold back tears as they listen to patriotic songs, it is because this December Bahrain is not only celebrating 48 years of its modern state but decades of social unity, fierce national identity and growing reforms.
Here’s to every little Bahraini girl dancing in her red dress with white flowers in her hair.
Today let’s give them the space to celebrate under the twinkling lights and colourful fireworks.
But tomorrow let’s empower them to become leaders and drive our country into the future.