‘I don’t like how people celebrate the National Day,” said one of my friends. “The boring car parade, spraying string on others and traffic congestion. We should do something more memorable on this day.”
I neither agree or disagree with my friend’s statement. I’m yet to figure out the best way to celebrate National Day. For now, I’m happy with the way we celebrate. But I must say, the celebration is getting more dazzling.
A few years back, National Day wasn’t celebrated the way it is now. Five years ago, I remember going to the Corniche and the celebration lasted a few hours. There was less enthusiasm and I don’t recall seeing many nationalities participating. Year by year, we’re celebrating the country’s birth in different ways. To me, the highlight is looking at cars adorned with patriotic imagery of our leaders.
“You don’t have corrupt leaders – that’s the main reason for UAE’s success,” said one of my Egyptian friends who witnessed the uprising in her country. No leaders in the world are loved like ours. They’re a great example to follow. In my opinion, the UAE will continue to prosper and be a role model for other countries.
This year, when I went to watch the air show at the Corniche, my heart skipped a beat. Many cultures from around the world gathered to mark the country’s birth. A lot of people are caught up in criticising how we celebrate National Day – instead, we should be talking about how our country has gifted us a sense of belonging.
Seeing happy faces around me is one of the joys of National Day. It makes me think to myself that one doesn’t need a UAE passport to belong in this country; all one needs is to feel welcomed and get that sense of belonging.
While walking along the Corniche, I saw our brethren from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and India laughing. It was a rare sight. Perhaps National Day lifted all their burdens and gave them an opportunity to forget their worries and homesickness.
“Aren’t we lucky to be UAE citizens?” is a phrase that my family often repeat on National Day. National Day reminds me of my father’s past and his children’s future. He was born in 1930. At that time, life was difficult. He belonged to a low class. His generation tasted hardship.
Because of our forefathers’ legacy, today their offspring lead comfortable lives. Out of all the people in the world, we’re among the luckiest, to be living on this blessed soil.
Just like a cute baby, my country is growing more beautiful year by year. In 1971, seven hearts were unified and today, this country has welcomed more than 200 nationalities under its umbrella. It never ceases to amaze me. Long live the UAE.
Asmaa Al Hameli is a features writer for The National.
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