UAE is a truly blessed nation and an important a role model for the entire world. Founded on the principles of union and justice, this nation today stands tall and has found a firm footing on the world map. An arid piece of land transformed by the vision and aspirations of a man who wanted to bring about a change in the lives of those around him. A man of pride and wisdom – H. H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan not only dreamt but had the courage to pursue his dream and turn it into a beacon of reality. In the process, he never lost sight of his roots and cultural heritage.
On the occasion of the 41st National Day of UAE, we salute the Father of Nation, H. H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and celebrate the 40th National Day keeping the ‘Spirit of Union’ as the theme. These celebrations pay homage to the great leadership who has played the most pivotal role in turning around this nation in such a short span of time. December 2nd is National Day in the United Arab Emirates. The country has been in overdrive for weeks in anticipation, as this 41st 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. ” Celebrations Naturally, the celebrations across the UAE have been endless. For example, an airshow recently took place on the Abu Dhabi Corniche. 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. 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. United Arab Emirates (UAE) National Day is celebrated in many ways with a host of celebrations taking place. It is celebrated with a spirit of unity and happiness. There is a lot of excitement and preparation that goes on for this day. Just a few days before UAE National Day, the stores and shops will ill up with all sizes of UAE flags, and anything from key-rings, hair decorations for girls, car accessories to party decors – all in the colours of the UAE flag. People will hang monster size flags from their homes either from the roof of their houses or from the balconies in preparation for the day and some may even light up their garden trees with lights in the colours of the UAE flag too. On the actual day, UAE traditional sword dances such as the Ayyalah, Liwa, and Haban, Harbiya and Mated take place in the center of the malls, near the Corniche on the grass, or at Heritage Villages.
Camel sticks are sometimes use to replace the swords. You will find young locals following in the traditions of their fathers performing these dances with such great experience; throwing the sticks in the air and catching them again while dancing with perfect precision. Since everyone has the day off, families go out to the Corniche or the gardens and parks with their children, some will picnic and some will stay near the Corniche to watch a massive fireworks display.
There are also many UAE competitions and special events held throughout the UAE, such as traditional dhow boat racing, international boat racing, camel racing,and special events like Classic Car Competitions in Dubai and Best Decorated Car ( in flag colours ) these are all displayed at the Corniche in the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, the best car to win stays displayed and the winner receives a prize. During National Day everyone prepares their cars and as they drive through the street with them they attract everyone’s attention.
Each person has their own way of decorating their car and each come up with some unique idea every year. Some schools and other educational institutes perform concerts, parties or competitions. Some organise food bazaars where everyone who participates cook some dishes and all the proceeds made on this day goes to charity. Everyone gets involved in National Day Activities, even businesses, all each having a party and a competition with prizes to be won. At times there are brilliant live outdoors concerts, with the local students performing the traditional UAE dances and dedicating poetry to the day.
This is sometimes ended with fasinating fireworks or laser displays. The history and significance Not long ago, the UAE was a land of desert inhabited by proud and resourceful nomadic Bedouin tribes, fishing villages and date farms. Abu Dhabi consisted of several hundred palm huts (barasti) huts, a few coral buildings and the Ruler’s Fort. Situated along the creek, Dubai was a trading hub, providing a safe haven before the Straits of Hormuz and beyond. Life today in the Emirates bears little resemblance to that of 40 years ago.
Parts of the UAE were settled as far back as the 3rd millennium BC and its early history fits the nomadic, herding and fishing pattern typical of the broader region. The Bedouin tribe was the principal building block of UAE society. Bedouin, which means desert-dweller, lived in varied terrain – moving between the ocean (where pearl diving and fishing were the main forms of sustenance), the desert (moving as nomads for grazing areas for the camels and herds) and the oasis (where water sources and irrigation allowed for farming of dates and vegetables).
One can still see the luxuriant date farms in Al Ain and irrigated terraced gardens in the mountain wadis (valleys). The Bedouin were known for their resourcefulness and independence in the face of a harsh environment. Their code of hospitality continues today among the modern Emirati population, who show great respect and honor to guests. The Portuguese arrived in 1498 when Vasco de Gamma circumnavigated the Cape of Good Hope. Portugese forts and the forts of their local supporters are evident in and around the various Emirates and nearby Oman.
The British then followed, asserting their naval power to safeguard trade links to India. The British came into conflict with the Qawasim tribal group, a seafaring clan whose influence extended to the Persian side of the Gulf. As a result, the area acquired the name “Pirate Coast”. In the 1820’s, the British fleet the Qawasim navy, imposed a General Treaty of Peace on the nine Arab sheikhdoms, and established a garrison in the region. The area became known as the Trucial Coast until the creation of the UAE in 1971.
Throughout this period, the main power among the Bedouin tribes of the interior was the Bani Yas tribal confederation, made up of the ancestors of the ruling families of modern Abu Dhabi (Al Nahyan) and Dubai (Al Maktoum). Descendents of these families rule Abu Dhabi and Dubai to this day. During the colonial era, the British were primarily concerned with protecting their links to India and keeping any European competitors out of the area. As the new century unfolded, Abu Dhabi was one of the poorest emirates, while Sharjah was the most populated and powerful.
The region remained a quiet backwater of fishing villages, pearling, camel herding and farming in the oasis. In the 1930’s the pearl industry was devastated by the Japanese invention of the cultured pearl, creating significant hardship for the local population with the loss of thier largest export and main source of earnings. However, all that changed with the discovery of oil. The first oil concessions were granted in 1939 by Sheikh Shakhbut Bin-Sultan Al Nahyan, but oil was not found for another 14 years. At first, oil money had a marginal impact.
In Abu Dhabi, a few lowrise concete buildings were erected, and the first paved road was completed in 1961, but Sheikh Shakbut, uncertain whether the new oil royalties would last, took a cautious approach, preferring to save the revenue rather than investing it in development. His brother, Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, saw that oil wealth had the potential to transform Abu Dhabi. The ruling Al Nahayan family decided that Sheikh Zayed should replace his brother as Ruler and carry out his vision of developing the country. Exports from Abu Dhabi began in 1962, turning the poorest of the emirates into the richest.
Dubai concentrated on building its reputation as the region’s busiest trading post. Then, in the mid 1960’s, Dubai found oil of its own. On August 6, 1966, with the assistance of the British, Sheikh Zayed became the new ruler. (Reading Resource: Al-Fahim, M, From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi, Chapter Six (London Centre of Arab Studies, 1995), ISBN 1 900404 00 1) In 1968 Britain announced its intention to leave the Gulf in 1971. The original plan was to form a single state consisting of Bahrain, Qatar and the Trucial Coast states. However, differing interests made it unsuccessful.
Negotiations eventually led to the independence of Bahrain and Qatar and the formation of a new federation – the United Arab Emirates. In July 1971, six of the Trucial States (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ajman and Fujairah) agreed on a Federal Constitution for achieving independence as the United Arab Emirates. The UAE became independent on 2 December 1971. The remaining sheikhdom, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the United Arab Emirates in February 1972. Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi (the namesake of the University and driving force for the creation of the UAE) took office as the first President of the United Arab Emirates.
Today, the UAE is a major international tourist and business center as well as one of the most modern, stable and safe countries in the world. It has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world at nearly $25,000 USD. The UAE has approximately 10% of the world’s total known oil reserves, 90% in Abu Dhabi and about 10% in Dubai. While the Abu Dhabi reserves are expected to last another 100 years, at present rates of production Dubai’s reserves will last only another ten years. Fortunately, the UAE is no longer solely reliant on oil and gas revenues.
Today, the oil sector contributes 30% of the country’s GDP. Thanks to the foresight of the UAE leaders, trade, tourism, real estate and construction are large contributors, most notably in Dubai. The celebrations we see on the day serves as a constant reminder to us of where UAE was 4 decades ago, where it is today and where it intends to go in the future. It helps to fully appreciate the momentous challenges the various Emirates and the nation has overcome to obtain records of achievement that is impressive by all standards….
I don’t know any country that has achieved what UAE has or any nation that takes such good care of its people the way this country does. The rulers of this nation have also made sure the successes have an impact on everyone by improving basics like better living standards, infrastructure development, welfare-state entitlements, health and education. It is amazing how the various Emirates have grown from palm-huts coastal towns to modern buildings and then to iconic buildings that host businesses that make it a vibrant trade centre of the Middle East.
Keeping the ideals and values of the union intact is one of the most fundamental goals all UAE government leaders and while every UAE national day is reminder of what it has achieved as a nation, the celebrations today is one way to look back at history and marvel how technical developments have guided the embryonic UAE to its present prosperity, becoming the ultimate salute to the unification. 2012 Celebrations As far as celebrations this year goes, it was grand. In Abu Dhabi, the Rulers and other leaders met and exchanged greetings.
The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, received His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Their Highnesses Members of the Supreme Council and Rulers of Emirates, Crown Princes and Deputy Rulers at Al Diyafa Palace in Al Mushrif. Following up on his National Day pledge to enhance the living conditions of the UAE citizens, the President also ordered to speed up a Dh10 billion project to replace old houses of UAE citizens with new ones in the emirates of Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah.
The project will cover houses built before 1990. Dubai residents were finally able to show their pride, after the first large-scale National Day parade, scheduled for Saturday, was cancelled after the previous day’s downpour disrupted plans. Thousands turned out for a parade along Emaar Boulevard, marching towards the central icon of the Burj Khalifa, which came alight with the four colours of the flag later that night. UAE communities from around the globe hosted their own parades in the emirate, while the big names of Bollywood appeared on stage at Festival City.
Abu Dhabi also turned on the entertainment, with all 50,000 square feet of the world’s largest aerial banner — the UAE flag — flying high above the packed residents on the Corniche grounds below. This was followed up by a breath-taking half-an-hour air show, the contrails flaunting the four colours of the nation. Elsewhere, Sharjah has a new flagpole, which at 123 metres is considered to be the seventh highest in the world, on par with Abu Dhabi’s flagpole. In Ajman, officials attempted to beat the Romanian world record of 12,740 hot-air balloons in the sky at any one time, with an aim of 15,000.
The UAE came alive on the the occasion of the 41st National Day being celebrated on Sunday with a range of events from fireworks displays, cultural parades, and exhibitions that captivated thousands of residents and visitors alike. Throughout the country, city streets and buildings were virtually painted in red, black, white, and green as hundreds of residents displayed UAE flags of all sizes in their villas, apartment buildings, and commercial centres. Families took advantage of the fair weather and spent the day in parks and beaches. But there were those who stayed at home in preparation for Sunday’s big event.
Others went for family trips in resorts in Fujairah, Al Ain, and Umm Al Quwain. At the Mall of the Emirates, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, a first-of-its kind art gallery presented visitors with a rare glimpse of artworks from prominent artists in the region. The artworks included exclusive images of the UAE and of Shaikh Khalifa, and HH Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former UAE President and founding father. Global Village, after being closed on Friday due to bad weather, resumed operations on Saturday featuring Diana Haddad for a special national day concert.
In Sharjah, Al Qasba hosted an array of events for visitors of all ages that would continue till Monday. Residents flocked to the popular tourist destination to enjoy carnival rides organised by Sharjah National Day Commission. A number of bands across the country likewise entertained visitors with cultural performances. Meanwhile, Sharjah made history on Sunday as the emirate inaugurates the “Flag Island” featuring a 123 metre-high flagpole, the 7th highest flagpole in the world. In the end, UAE National Day is a phenomenal and most of all significant event for UAE residents and will be bigger and better every consecutive year.