National Day is just around the corner. While some will use the time to travel, others will stay in the country they now call home to enjoy the holiday festivities.
Long weekends are great, and we all enjoy the extended time off, but what exactly is the significance of National Day in the UAE? And what is happening in the country to mark the occasion?
We break down the origins, the interesting facts and the best places to mark the country’s 46th anniversary.
What is National Day?
National Day in the UAE is celebrated on December 2 each year. This holiday marks the day the emirates banded together at Union House (now Etihad Museum) to form the United Arab Emirates in 1971. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan was the country’s first president.
Who designed the flag?
The designer of the UAE’s flag is Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah. More than a thousand entries were submitted into a competition to design the country’s flag, and after a process of elimination, it was his design that was chosen as the winning entry.
The flag was hoisted above Mushrif Palace in 1971.
How many days off do we have?
Government offices will be closed on Thursday, November 30, and reopen on Monday, December 4 in celebration of the country’s 46th birthday. Private sector employees will have a three-day weekend, with work commencing on Sunday, December 3.
What can I do on National Day?
Most schools and businesses are closed for two days over the National Day period, depending on whether they belong to public or private sector. During this time, many choose to travel, but for those staying in the country, there are a whole host of festivities, activities and entertainment on offer, including concerts, parades and firework displays.
And here are a few suggestions for some National Day activities:
Use the weekend to learn more about the country; its history, people, food and culture by visiting this historic landmark on 2nd of December Street, Jumeirah 1, Dubai. Check the website for opening hours.
Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi
The mall has a host of exciting activities and events in the build-up to and during the National Day weekend. Some the entertainment includes mini golf, bubble soccer, and National Day-themed exhibitions for the whole family to enjoy.
Dubai Rugby Sevens
It’s time to put on your most festive fancy dress attire in support of your favourite team as the Dubai Sevens returns from November 30 to December 2.
Getaways in the UAE – check out this hideaway in Ajman
The National’s Hayley Skirka recommends a trip to Ajman. It might be the smallest emirate, but it boasts some exquisite sandy beaches and amazing wildlife. Plus, it’s less than an hour away from Dubai. The Oberoi Beach Resort recently opened, so if you’re looking for a night or two away, be sure to get your bookings in soon. If you’re feeling quite active, you can dive into the 80-metre lap pool, run on the beach track or play some golf on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
Dragon Mart heritage-themed village
Dragon Mart 2 will be celebrating the 46th UAE National Day with a host of activities from 28 November, including free traditional food and drinks between 5 and 10pm. Immerse yourself into the UAE culture by exploring the many Emirati handicrafts, fashion accessories and traditional clothes on show. You can also snap a selfie with the regal national bird of the UAE — the falcon.