Ask Ali: Many celebrations are welcomed in the UAE

In this week's Ask Ali we learn whether there are any occasions that aren't celebrated in the UAE and do Emiratis also hold foreign passports?

Dear Ali: I just moved to the UAE. Are there any occasions that aren’t celebrated here? Is it OK to celebrate my own religious festivals or New Year, for example? JM, Dubai

Dear JM: First of all, welcome to our beautiful country. I hope that you have a great start in your new home.

In the UAE, we have 200 nationalities living, working, practising their own faiths and celebrating their own national and personal occasions. So, yes, people do celebrate occasions such as New Year’s Eve, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and anniversaries, even though it’s not necessarily part of the UAE’s traditions. However, you can still find some Emiratis who may celebrate or attend and participate in parties, but most often they would only exchange greetings. In general, it’s not common.

Watching the fireworks display in Downtown Dubai near the Burj Khalifa during the New Year’s Eve celebrations, followed by the show at the Dubai Fountain, is one of the major attractions for visitors of Dubai and residents alike.

As you can tell, we may accept your invitation to join you for celebration of any of these occasions, but mainly because it is a good chance to get together and share moments of joy and excitement with you. And I hope you can experience our spirit of celebration on our big Eid days, such as Eid Al Adha and Eid Al Fitr, or this year’s UAE National Day.

Dear Ali: Emiratis have a lot of pride about being from their country, but do any Emiratis also hold foreign passports? AP, Abu Dhabi

Dear AP: National identity means much more to us than just having a passport. Every country has its own identity based on how history formed its nation and how generations have passed on their traditions. In terms of Emiratis, yes, we do have a strong sense of national identity, but the question is also “why?”

Wearing the national dress signifies the way that we identify ourselves as Emiratis. Even our language plays a great role when it comes to having an Emirati identity, but I think that, most of all, our patriotic traits reveal how much pride we have in our country.

We’re proud of our ancestors, who endured so much hardship but still managed to maintain our cultural heritage.

You might not find many Emiratis who hold a foreign passport, but they do exist. Besides passports, we also have identity cards for everyone who lives in the UAE, whether you’re an Emirati or an expatriate, which I believe is a good thing – it brings us closer together, like one big family, despite our differences in nationality.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question.

Published: December 4, 2014 04:00 AM

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