SHARJAH // Hundreds of Emirati families and residents from across Sharjah kicked off celebrations on Tuesday ahead of the 45th National Day.
Boys dressed in army uniforms and girls wearing gowns in the colours of the UAE flag enjoyed traditional yola dancing and performances of plays at National Park on Airport Road.
Families sat on the grass, drinking coffee and tea and revelling in the festivities.
Emirati parents said National Day, which is celebrated on Friday, is a symbol of unity for the emirates and the country’s formation.
“It is important to take part in the celebrations. The foundation of our country and the sense of belonging should be instilled in our children,” said Ali Al Marzouqi, 34, a Sharjah Police officer.
“My young boy Ali has been practising his yola dance moves, and he can’t wait to start dancing it with his friends tonight.”
Mayson Issa, a mother of two, came to the park with her seven-year-old son Khalifa, and six-year-old daughter, Ayesha.
“Loyalty and love for the country and its leaders is something we teach our children from a young age,” said Ms Issa, 40, a maths teacher.
“The children are having fun here and enjoying their time listening and seeing musical performances and traditional Emirati culture on display all across the kiosks in the park.”
Visitors to Sharjah National Park for Friday’s celebrations can enjoy music by traditional bands performing Emirati works, art workshops, mural painting and a play titled The United Arab Emirates is my Homeland.
Daily competitions and prize draws will be held in the park, which has a designated area for children’s games.
Hind Al Junaid, 10, wrote a love letter to her country on a white wall set up in the park.
“My cousins and I wrote how much we love our country. We love Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Sultan,” said Hind, referring to the President and Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.
Her cousin Sara, 15, who lives in Al Qaraen, said: “We are so proud of our country.
“It’s the best country in the world, and National Day is a time of flags and traditional sweets and celebrations in my neighbourhood and in the emirate.
A group of young Emirati entrepreneurs and small-business owners will take part in an event at the park in which they will share their experiences and success stories.
Another activity will feature a series of educational games and artistic workshops aimed at developing intellect, enhancing skills and instilling patriotism.
A reading pavilion is set up, featuring a collection of books that cater to people of all ages. The books are available for park visitors as part of the nationwide Year of Reading campaign launched by Sheikh Khalifa.
Ajman resident Rami Ahmed said National Day was a celebration for everyone living in the country.
“It’s not just for Emiratis, it’s a day for all of us,” said Mr Ahmed, 37, a construction consultant. “We live and work in this country, which we consider our second home.
“All people here should be celebrating the huge strides made in this young country in so little time, it is a country like no other in the Arab world.”
Events at Sharjah National Park began on Tuesday and will be held each day until Saturday, from 4pm to 10pm.