National Day brings families together across UAE to celebrate the country they love and call home
Progress and patriotism have starring roles in UAE’s spectacular story
From the shores of the Indian Ocean to the salt flats of Abu Dhabi, citizens and residents gathered together yesterday to celebrate the country they call home.
The impromptu National Day parades have been replaced by formal ceremonies and concerts but above all, National Day remains a time for families to gather around the campfire or in the majlis.
Bashar Saad, an Iraqi raised in Sharjah, hit the dunes south of Dubai with the UAE Pajero Club for their annual National Day drive. The drivers camped in the dunes the night before.
“First and foremost it’s a holiday, so everybody’s free and we love the desert. We have to be in the desert. If you ever spend a night in the desert, it so quiet. It is the best thing for you.”
Melanie Sanchez, her husband Jesse and their three year old child, packed up their car the night before and headed for a family camping trip at Al Qudra Lakes.
For Ms Sanchez, who lives in Abu Dhabi, the long weekend was a rare chance to reconnect with her sister’s family, who live in Dubai. Both Ms Sanchez and her sister met their husbands in the Emirates and had their children here.
“That’s why the UAE is very special for us,” said Ms Sanchez.
“It’s a big love story for us,” said her brother-in-law, Jojo Sanchez, who is 41.
Nearby, Sarannya Arun, who was born in Kerala but raised in Sharjah, explored the manmade lakes with her three-year-old son, husband and in-laws. “The holiday is a chance to get together with the family,” said Ms Arun, who is 33. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have the time, actually. We’re in work daily, we never get the time to come here.”
For her, National Day marks the foundation of the country she has always called home. Her father worked at Sharjah International Airport.
“It’s our second home, actually,” she said of the Emirates. Her sisters returned to India at a young age to study but she stayed on. “What to say? I just got settled here.”
In the Northern Emirates, National Day celebrations began the night before with picnickers lining the dunes alongside Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed motorway, celebrating the holiday with firelight and cardamom-infused tea alongside the road that connects the country.
In central Ras Al Khaimah, a free concert titled Ambition
of a Nation, featuring Emirati superstars Hussain Al Jassmi
The remarkable story of the UAE was told in spectacular style yesterday as thousands converged on the capital for a breathtaking show in celebration of the 48th National Day.
Patriotic pride was on full display as UAE leaders joined people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi to pay tribute to the country’s rich roots and its growing role on the global stage.
Legacy of our Ancestors, a stunning theatrical production masterminded by an international collaboration of designers, production specialists, technicians and professional performers from 65 countries, aimed to shine a light on the many achievements of a nation transformed from a desert land of untapped potential into a buzzing, vibrant young country.
A vast stage occupying an area of 10,000 square metres – equivalent to the size of eight Olympic pools – was constructed in less than six months to be used for the event.
There was rich reward for the countless hours of toil, with spectators enthralled by the lavish stage show charting the rapid rise of the Emirates through cutting-edge visual and audio technology and a gifted cast of performers.
A 19-metre puppet whale, laser lights and more than a thousand props dazzled and delighted the crowds.
The UAE flag was carried inside the stadium by 10 members of the Presidential Guard, who marched in tune with military songs.
The show centred on five stories of Emirati life, from a girl who dared to dream and spoke to the Moon and a whale that brought hope to a village.
One young member of the vast crowd, 11-year-old Maryam
Ibrahim, sat anxiously waiting for the show to start.
“I heard some of those stories from my father during road trips,” said the sixth-grader.
“For the first time I will see them live in front of me outside my imagination.”
Boats were ushered by two divers to the stage as one of the stories started to unfold, while other divers stood holding lanterns to complement the picturesque moonlit sailing trip.
Soon after, the stage erupted with steam and waves demonstrating a storm that drowned the diver’s fleet.
Then a crew of 26 people created the structure of a whale on stage, for a different tale.
Daughters of Amber tells the story of Arabian Gulf residents in 1941 who were awakened by a whale that drifted to their seashore.
The mammal brought them fortune as they managed to extract amber from its throat, during a time when the area was experiencing harsh economic conditions.
Maryam was certainly not disappointed as she watched her father’s stories come to life.
Her mother Ghalya Al Hammadi, 32, and her father Ibrahim Al Hammadi, 36, said they were keen to bring their six children, aged between one and 17, to the show.
“These days we struggle to connect children with the past. This kind of show make it easier for us and more understandable for them because those stories should be viewed not heard,” said Mr Al Hammadi.
Sultan Al Thumairi, 18, and his cousin Majid Al Thumairi, 16, were attending the official National Day celebrations for the first time. “We usually go rounding in the car parade on the Corniche,” said Sultan. “We would then watch the videos of the show and feel sorry we missed it.”
‘Legacy of our Ancestors’, a vast stage show featuring lasers and light and depicting Emirati heritage and culture, wowed thousands of spectators at Zayed Sports Stadium in Abu Dhabi last night
Youngsters prepare to greet the parade at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi yesterday