A Celebration of Union and Independence
The 2nd of December every year in the UAE marks the celebration of its National Day - the anniversary of the day that the UAE declared formal independence from the UK. It also marks the unification of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (Ras Al Khaimah joined the union a little later than the other emirates). The declaration establishing the UAE was signed in 1971, and RAK joined in February 1972. 2012 is the 41st anniversary of this historic occasion.
National Day each year is a public holiday and schools celebrate, often with performances of traditional dances and music.
If you’re an expat, the late afternoon and evening can be a good time to be off the roads in the UAE. Hundreds of lavishly decorated cars, festooned with flags and portraits of the rulers, drive in convoy, particularly along Jumeirah Beach Road. If you want to avoid being stuck in traffic, and maybe being prevented from reaching your destination, head out early, or head for a different part of town and avoid the parades
This year a government committee is organizing official celebrations. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has asked citizens to plant trees at their homes and their gardens this year in support of the theme, Spirit of the Union.
The holiday is a great opportunity to spend time with the family. Head to Emaar Boulevard for the Downtown Dubai Parade. According to the publicity the parade will feature ‘floats, inflatable balloons, performers, heritage, horses, camels and music groups’. Definitely sounds as though there’s something for everyone. It starts at 2:30 pm but I suggest you get there early to grab a prime viewing spot.
DUCTAC at Mall of the Emirates is planning film screenings of Freej Folklore - ‘the largest Arabian theatrical production of all time’ - in both English and Arabic. In the evening Mohamad Hamami and Sharq Orchestra will be performing Arabic classics. There will also be poetry readings and the chance to taste traditional Emirati cuisine.
Pop over to Jumeirah Beach Hotel to sample another aspect of the UAE’s heritage. See traditional pearl diving demonstrations from a dhow moored at The Marina.
In typical UAE fashion there will be plenty of special deals to help residents and visitors alike celebrate the occasion.
To get you into the mood, take a look at this video of an unforgettable version of the UAE National anthem being played by Emirati guitarist Mannan Al Awar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYOHcNi8FOg&feature=plcp)
2012 is the 41st anniversary of this historic occasion.
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