Red, White, and … Black & Green ~ It’s UAE National Day!

December 1st, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

December 2nd is National Day in the United Arab Emirates. The country has been in overdrive for weeks in anticipation, as this 40th anniversary is a big one for the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates is an amazingly young country. Many people walking around have memories of when Sheikh Zayed united the seven emirates and the various tribes into the one union. In fact, the slogan for this year’s National Day is “Spirit of the Union.” This is the logo:

This whole week has been full of funny little surprises. For example, last weekend, my husband and I were eating falafel sandwiches in Sharjah on the canal in Al Qasbah, when this patriotic marching band came by, complete with performers on stilts.

Naturally, the celebrations across the UAE have been endless. For example, an airshow recently took place on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

(Photo courtesy of The National newpaper.)

Meanwhile, manufacturers are cashing in, selling all sorts of National Day-themed products, including clothing, accessories, food and even limited-edition cars. One of my favorites is at Bloomingdale’s in Dubai Mall: the UAE-themed tote, which can be yours for 150 dirhams ($41). 

Emiratis express their national pride in many ways. Most common is vehicle adornment. Below is a mild example; some vehicles have every inch decorated.

Lots of Emiratis display flags at their homes. I don’t mean standard-sized flags like Americans hang for Fourth of July. No. When Emiratis do something, they do it big—I’m talking about 20-foot, 50-foot and even 100-foot flags. Here are just a couple villas in my neighborhood. 

This past week, my kids’ school has been going all out for National Day. The students dressed in the colors of the country and formed a human flag on the football field.

Meanwhile, the school parking attendants were required to wear patriotic vests this week. 

Here’s a photo of my kids observing National Day. My two older kids are wearing UAE national dress—kandura for the men, abaya for the women. 

Finally, I’d like to end with song. This song was written and produced by Ms. Jules & Mr. Jones of the music and theater department at my children’s school. If you listen for 2 minutes you’ll hear all the lyrics, written in honor of National Day. I think it’s lovely. Click here and tell me what you think: Song for National Day ~ This is Home (The Spirit of the Union)

If you’d like to know more about UAE culture, here are some of my favorite things about the UAE.

Questions: What are your impressions of National Day?

                    How are you going to spend the holiday?

  1. Riani
    December 1st, 2011 at 21:58 | #1

    Thanks for sharing some of the celebrations, I wish I could be there! Spoke to my husband this afternoon, his cynical take on this year’s National Day is that, to celebrate 40 years, people seem intent on killing themselves and others. Apparently ICU is overrun with victims of car accidents and stabbings (the former predominantly Emiratis, and the latter mostly expats). I guess being stuck on duty in the hospital taints your perception of events?

  2. December 2nd, 2011 at 02:42 | #2

    Fantastic photojournalism, Holly. I wish we were there, so jealous. My daughter will be wearing a UAE shirt we brought back with us to school tomorrow, and we’ll all think fond thoughts of the UAE. Maybe make some zataar cheese bread.

  3. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    December 2nd, 2011 at 06:05 | #3

    @Riani Oh dear, I haven’t heard about the stabbings. The car accidents are not surprising though … Yes, I’m sure the hospital staff sees a whole different perspective of the goings-on in this country. Hopefully the residents will make it out alive from the three day weekend.

  4. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    December 2nd, 2011 at 06:11 | #4

    @Natalie Thanks for stopping by. Last night I made the crazy choice to drive on Jumeirah Beach Road at about 11 pm. Oh my. Total party mayhem & traffic jam — decorated cars & people, confetti all over, noise makers, Emiratis hanging out of their SUVs, lots of families and young people, police everywhere, roads blocked… I even saw a guy dancing in the street. Oh yes, silly string, lots of silly string…. Can not imagine what today and tonight will be like. :P

  5. December 11th, 2011 at 07:49 | #5

    Lovely photos and post. I missed the EIS celebrations this year. My daughter took part in festivities at her school in a performance of the Emirati *hair dance*/belly dance but they don’t celebrate as much as EIS always does.
    Love the photo of your children. Adorable.

  6. Holly S. Warah
    Holly S. Warah
    December 12th, 2011 at 06:26 | #6

    @Zvezdana Oh! I love the Emirati hair dance! By the way, EIS was celebrating their own 20th year anniversary, so the festivities were extra-big this year.

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  1. January 19th, 2014 at 10:00 | #1