ABU DHABI // This National Day, a celebration of 45 years of the UAE, is an opportunity to pay tribute to the country’s remarkable progress and its Rulers.
Around the country, Emiratis, residents and tourists are expected to flock to public places to celebrate the occasion.
Aziz Al Shamsi, 45, an Emirati, said National Day was a day of unity for all who live in the UAE.
“We all love the UAE,” he said. “Emiratis and non-Emiratis share the same love for and loyalty to this country. We are celebrating the Spirit of the Union and the huge achievements of this great nation.”
The role of Emirati women has expanded and evolved since the establishment of the union, said Mr Al Shamsi, who works for the police department.
“They are taking leadership roles in various fields and we take pride in their achievements,” he said.
Mansoor Meftah, 37, head of the application section at the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, was full of praise and gratitude for the country and its Rulers.
“We wish many more years of success for the UAE, a future of peace and prosperity for all,” he said.
“Emiratis and expatriates are all part of this union. We all belong to one community and as one family, we are celebrating this special day.”
Faisal Al Moussa, from Egypt, has lived in Dubai for almost 15 years.
“When you look at how stable and safe the UAE compared with elsewhere in the region then that is down to the foresight of the leaders of the country,” he said.
“I know that National Day is an important time for Emiratis but it should also be an opportunity for expatriates to give thanks and appreciate what we have here.
Joanna Ferguson, from the UK, has been living in Dubai for five years and agreed with those sentiments.
“National Day gives us all a chance to say thanks for what this country has given us because the lifestyle we have here is much better than what we are coming from,” she said.
“It’s important for expatriates not to be so enclosed within our own communities and be more aware of the country as a whole.”
This year, there will be 219 official events throughout the Emirates, with cultural performances in malls and public spaces, according to the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.
Families will be picnicking on the grass along the Corniche, while others will come and watch the parades, fireworks, heritage attractions, concerts and other events on offer during the National Day holiday.
Al Maryah Island will host performances such as the ayyala and yola dances, traditional drummers, a National Day parade, a police marching band on Friday and Saturday (Dec 2 and 3).
At 9pm on Friday (Dec 2), a spectacular fireworks display will light up the skyline in the colours of the UAE flag.
A range of free family activities are taking place at the Yas Marina Circuit on Friday (Dec 2), from 2pm to 7pm, while patriotically-decorated cars are taking part in the annual car parade just outside the circuit on Saturday (Dec 3), from 4pm to 9pm.
The Al Jahili fort in Al Ain is hosting a programme of workshops and performances on Friday (Dec 2) from 4.30pm to 10pm.
Planes will paint the skies with the colours of the UAE flag, while martial music is performed by Abu Dhabi Police.
In Dubai, the City Walk festival is hosting 30 international folk bands, as well as traditional fashion shows and art shows, and on Friday (Dec 2), residents can catch a fireworks show.
The first ‘UAE-themed running race’, will take place at 7am on Friday (Dec 2) at Meydan. All runners will have UAE flags “on their clothing, in their hands, painted on their faces, and attached to their baby strollers,” organisers said.
Throughout the weekend, families and tourists can catch cultural shows, musicals, a Hollywood stunt show and street performances — all with a National Day twist — at Dubai’s Global Village.
*Additional reporting by Nadeem Hanif