DUBAI// The red, white, green and black of the UAE flag flew proudly across the emirate as thousands of people came out to mark 45th National Day.
From street shows and artists to music and traditional dance at City Walk and entertainment at Dubai Mall, it was a moment for Emirati and expatriate alike to celebrate in style.
Duha Al Marzooqi, a Emirati mother of two, had brought her children and her nephew along to City Walk for a day out to celebrate.
“I’m feeling proud, and it’s the first time that we have got up so early on a Friday to prepare everything for the celebrations,” she said.
“We’ll be enjoying the whole day until midnight and will be meeting up with other relatives later on today.
“It’s really important for the younger generation to understand how important this day is for the country.”
Ms Al Marzooqi said that this time of year was also a time for reflection for many Emiratis.
“Last month, we had Flag Day, and we also marked Commemoration Day a few days ago, so I think a lot of people are in the mindset to stop and think what it means to be an Emirati,” she said.
Her daughter, Khawla, who was proudly wearing a UAE flag-coloured sweater, was excited about what the day would bring.
“It’s very exciting because we will get the chance to see some fireworks and cars that have been painted in the UAE flag,” she said.
Her sister, Mariam, had pleaded for her mother to paint their car in the national colours.
“I thought it would look nice, but mum said it would be better if we had some proper flags on it instead,” said the 11-year-old.
“I’m really happy about today because we get to remember all the work that Sheikh Zayed did to bring us together as a country.”
At Dubai Mall, visitors were entertained by music and the mall was decked out in bunting to mark the special day.
“We’ve arranged to meet up with some friends and then after that we will head out to the beach and relax with a picnic,” said 37-year-old Emirati Maher Al Ali.
“It’s very easy to forget the hard work it has taken over many years to get us to where we are now as a country.
“The reason we have the lifestyle we have now is because of the difficulties that previous generations went through to get us here and we should never forget that.”
Imran Latif and his friend, Yousef ul Haq, from Pakistan, were wearing UAE flags to show their support.
“The UAE has given me amazing opportunities I would not have had back home,” said IT manager Mr Latif.
“A lot of expatriates forget how lucky we are to live in a country like this and to show our support in this way is the least we can do.”