Best things to do in Dubai during the UAE National Day holiday 2021

Catch a theatrical show in Hatta, visit a cool beachside pop-up, or take the tots for an interactive reading session that celebrates the UAE

Check out the world's first 360-degree swimming pool; visit Global Village; or book Deep Dive Dubai this National Day holiday. Photos: Victor Besa, Chris Whiteoak, Antonie Robertson / The National
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The UAE's National Day, which annually falls on December 2, is coming up, and with this being the country's 50th year, or its golden jubilee, it’s going to be an action-packed long weekend.

If you’re planning to spend it in Dubai, here’s a list of some cool places to visit and activities to try out.

Visit Hatta

M1N54E Hatta is the inland exclave of the emirate of Dubai in the UAE where people can enjoy kayaking and boating on the lake of Hatta Dam. United Arab Emirates. David GABIS / Alamy Stock Photo

Hatta is the place to be as the official ceremony for the 50th UAE National Day will take place there, with a spectacular open-air theatrical show taking viewers on a journey through the area's history.

According to Shaikha Al Ketbi, head of creative strategy of the Year of the 50th, the show will be staged at Hatta Dam.

“The floating theatrical experience will take viewers on a journey through the land's history in the lead up to the inception of the union and across the 50 years that followed. Through unparalleled creative and artistic storytelling, the show will also shed light on the achievements of today and offer a unique glimpse into the promising future that awaits everyone who calls the UAE home."

The show will take place every day over a period of nine days, and last for about 90 minutes.

Saturday, December 4 to Sunday, December 12; 4.25pm-6.05pm; Dh300 per person; Hatta Dam;

Expo 2020 Dubai

A light show takes place every evening at the largest 360-degree projection dome in Al Wasl Plaza, Expo 2020 Dubai. Khushnum Bhandari / The National

Whether you've been there countless times before, or planning your first visit, there's always plenty to do at Expo 2020, and now offers the perfect outdoor temperature for exploring the vast site.

From watching Al Wasl Dome light up at night to the daily performances at Jubilee Park, it’s impossible to cover everything in a day, although the wealth of cool food and beverage offerings will help keep you fuelled.

There will be a huge line-up of shows throughout National Day week, including a drone show, while individual pavilions may have their own offerings for the occasion. More details will be announced soon.

Dh95 for a day pass;

Beach Canteen

Popular outdoor food pop-up Beach Canteen is back for 17 days only. Photo: Beach Canteen

Good news for food lovers: Dubai’s immensely popular dining pop-up, Etisalat Beach Canteen, is back, and this year it’s celebrating the UAE’s 50th anniversary. It'll be going on for 17 days, when visitors will be able to enjoy a variety of dining concepts, live music and children’s activities at the Jumeirah Beach venue.

Thursday, November 25 to Saturday, December 11; Jumeirah Beach Dubai, behind Sunset Mall;

Ain Dubai

Ain Dubai, the world’s highest observation wheel, started spinning in Dubai a few weeks ago, and if you haven’t already been, this is a prime opportunity to see it.

There are a number of packages and time options available, and a rotation will give you some of the best views Dubai has to offer.

During the National Day weekend, guests can also expect the official Hatta celebration broadcast live on the big screens, Emirati music playing across the venue, Al Ayyala performers, traditional Arabian decor, a henna station and more.

To cap it all off, expect three hourly light shows from 6.30pm to 10pm throughout the weekend, and a three-minute fireworks spectacle at 8.30pm on December 2. All guests purchasing a standard views experience for December 1, 2 and 3 will also receive an Dh50 voucher towards their next ride to use from January 2 to March 31, 2022.

Open daily; prices from Dh130 for adults and Dh100 for children;

Global Village

This family-friendly venue is a favourite during the National Day long weekend, and this year will be no exception. Book your tickets online, which is cheaper than buying them at the gate, and stroll through the vast space which has a new look, a revamped floating market, a sweet Railway Market, a new fire-breathing dragon and other new attractions.

The venue has also launched its series of live music concerts for the first time since the pandemic began, with performances taking place every Friday.

Under the theme ‘50 Years of Togetherness’, the Luminous Years operetta will be performed by Ornina Theatrical Dance Company between December 1 and 4, on the main stage, featuring voiceovers by Emirati stars Habib Ghuloom and Fatma Alblooshi, bringing to life the UAE’s rich history. The Golden Jubilee events will also include performances by the National Youth Orchestra Dubai, which will have more than 60 young musicians play their unique rendition of the UAE national anthem as well as popular classical pieces during 60-minute-long concerts.

On December 1, Emirati artist Khalid Mohammed will give a one-night-only National Day performance on the main stage starting from 9pm, and there's a surprise planned on December 2 at 5pm. Finally, visitors can expect musical firework displays on December 1, 2 and 3 at 9pm.

Daily; 4pm-1am; Dh15 online and Dh20 at the gate; Dubailand;

Waterfront Market

Waterfront Market will host an Emirati heritage village on the promenade to mark UAE's National Day celebrations. Photo: Waterfront Market

The waterfront destination will be marking UAE's golden jubilee with 10 days of celebrations, starting this Thursday and continuing until Saturday, December 4. During that time, a range of indoor activities at the market’s main atrium will keep visitors entertained from 2pm to 10pm – from ayala traditional dancing and a roaming parade to a UAE museum act. There will even be a special area offering a full range of children's activities, including cards and beads, jewellery-making and colouring.

Then, from Wednesday to Saturday, December 1 to 4, the market will host an outdoor traditional Emirati heritage village on the promenade from 4pm to 10pm, complete with traditional areesh tents. Each tent will offer a different activity that celebrates the local culture, from fishnet weaving and henna art to pottery making and a traditional majlis for photo opportunities. Also expect live cooking demonstrations of popular traditional Emirati dishes.

Thursday, November 25 to Saturday, December 4; 2pm-10pm; free; Waterfront Market’s promenade and main atrium;

THAT Concept store

The futuristic concept store, with branches in Mall of the Emirates and City Centre Mirdif, has an packed line-up for National Day. The first 750 customers in both stores on December 2 will receive a sweet treat in the colours of the UAE flag. There will also be complimentary henna painting at both stores from 3pm to 6pm on Thursday, December 2. Special hair braiding and nail designs will be available throughout the festivities, if you're feeling like going patriotic with a manicure in green, white, black, and red. Finally, in the Mall of the Emirates branch, Uchi M'oishi has launched a special menu in celebration of UAE National Day, with dishes such as the saffron Wagyu calypot and kunafa available until December 5.

Thursday, December 2; free sweet treats to first 70 customers and henna painting; THAT concept store, Mall of the Emirates and Mirdif City Centre;

Madame Tussauds

Another reason Bluewaters Island is the place to be this National Day weekend is Madame Tussauds Dubai. The world-famous attraction opened its first Middle East branch right at the base of Ain Dubai in October.

Inside, visitors can get up close to wax figures of some of their favourite celebrities, sporting stars and political figures. Personalities given the wax treatment in the UAE include Amna Al Haddad, Kylie Jenner, Virat Kohli, Balqees Fathi, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Nancy Ajram.

Daily; 11am-9pm; Dh135 for adults; Bluewaters Island;


Dubai, United Arab Emirates- February, 03, 2015:  General view of the Jumeirah Box Park area  in Dubai . ( Satish Kumar / The National )  For Focus / Story by Hareth Albustani *** Local Caption ***  SK-BoxPark-03022015-03.jpg

The colourful outdoor neighbourhood will be having creative workshops for children on December 2 and 3, where they can dive into Emirati culture by learning the art of Sadu weaving, or trying the basics of Arabic calligraphy. There will also be live Tanoura and Ayyala performances three times a day on both days.

Thursday and Friday, December 2 and 3; free; Boxpark, Jumeirah;

Al Seef

If you're looking for a glimpse of old-world charm, take a stroll to Al Seef. While adults are taking in the views from the gorgeous waterfront property, there will be arts and crafts stations available for children from 4pm to 10pm on December 1 to 3.

The UAE Marching Band and a 6-piece Ayyala dance group will add cheer to the atmosphere and early birds on December 2 can catch UAE Flag Dancers on stage. Young homegrown actors will bring to life an elaborate play produced specially for the occasion on December 3. Don’t miss out on Jalsat musical performances in between all the fun and be sure to make your way around seven kiosks – each representing one of the emirates – to learn about major milestones in local history – over the long weekend.

Wednesday to Friday, December 1-3; 5pm-9pm; free; Al Seef, Dubai Creek;

Al Khawaneej Walk

The mall sprawls across both indoor and outdoor space, with outdoor areas landscaped around a lake. Supplied

As well as seeing the greenhouse-inspired Al Khawaneej Walk decked out in all the colours of the UAE flag, visitors can expect Ayala dancers from 5pm to 9pm on December 2 and 3. There will also be a traditional eight-piece Al Harbia Band from 3pm to 9pm on December 2, and mascots Modesh and Dana will make special National Day appearances.

Three shows will take place at 5.30pm, 6.30pm and 7.30pm respectively at an authentic majlis where a storyteller will take guests on a journey through the UAE’s past. Finally, expect plenty of sales on everything from clothes to perfumes at the venue over the long weekend.

Thursday and Friday, December 2 and 3; free; Al Khawaneej Walk;

The View at The Palm

A woman watches the view of Marina district towers from the observation deck of 'The View at The Palm Jumeirah' in Dubai. Photo: AP

View the Palm Jumeirah from a whole new vantage point, from this 360-degree observation deck by Nakheel. From December 1 to 4, children four to 12 residing in the UAE can enter for free when accompanied by an adult and upon presenting their Emirates ID.

Wednesday to Saturday; December 1-4; Dh100 for adults; Palm Jumeirah;

Palm West Beach

In partnership with Red Bull, the venue will feature a thrilling acrobatic skydiving show led by Red Bull athletes Sebastian Alvarez and Dani Roman on Thursday, December 2 at 5pm. Visitors can watch the stunt show just before sunset, with high-altitude moves and dances.

Thursday, December 2; 5pm; Palm West Beach; 800 6254335

The Pointe

The waterfront destination will mark the UAE's 50th anniversary with a specially choreographed show at The Palm Fountain accompanied by a firework display which will sway to Bel Bont Al Areed by Emirati singer and composer Hussain Al Jassmi, on December 2 at 8pm. The world’s largest fountain will light up in UAE’s national colours of red, black, white and green. The venue is also one of the best places to watch Atlantis celebrate with a dazzling firework show on December 3.

Thursday and Friday, December 2 and 3; The Pointe, Palm Jumeirah;

Jumeirah Golf Estates Clubhouse

There will be live entertainment, a petting zoo and a la carte dishes available at Jumeirah Golf Estates Clubhouse

It's set to be a busy day at the Fire and Earth Terraces in the Jumeirah Golf Estates Clubhouse, where residents and guests are invited to join in the golden jubilee celebrations. There will be live entertainment such as Yola dancers, as well as traditional Emirati craft stations and live cooking stations featuring Emirati cuisine. The little ones can look forward to face painting, camel rides and a petting zoo with rabbits, snakes, parrots, and goats.

Thursday, December 2; 11.30am onwards; free entry; Jumeirah Golf Estates Clubhouse; 043758059

Dubai Miracle Garden

Dubai Miracle Garden recently reopened for the winter season with a host of new features. Families will be able to stroll a Smurfs Village, complete with mushroom houses, and take pictures next to their favourite Smurf characters. A floral genie and magic flying carpet carved from foliage are some of the other new highlights at the venue this year, adding to the lush greenery and record-breaking attractions.

Daily; 9am-11pm (weekends); D55 for adults, Dh40 for children 12 years and under, free entry for children aged 3 and under; Dubailand;

Times Square Centre

Family-friendly activations and a photo exhibition will be held at Times Square this National Day. Photo: Times Square Centre

The quaint shopping centre has teamed up with FotoUAE and Sharaf DG to host a photo exhibition with the theme Between Seconds and Years Visitors will be able to browse through the works of 20 local photographers, showcasing of memorable moments in the UAE. The little ones can take part in a variety of ongoing workshops including card making and crafts, which will be hourly, from noon to 6pm.

Friday, November 26 to Saturday, December 4; noon-6pm; Times Square Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road

Deep Dive Dubai

The world’s deepest diving pool opened in Dubai earlier this year, with its own sunken city. There are packages for every wallet and skillset, so if you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge, this might be the time.

A Discover Snorkelling experience is Dh400 ($108), and includes fins, a snorkel, mask and flotation vest for a one-hour guided snorkel session, allowing guests to see the sunken city. There are also Dive experiences for divers with a certification, and Develop, for first-timers and certified divers looking to expand their skillset.

Wednesday to Sunday, noon-8pm; prices start at Dh400; Nad Al Sheba, Dubai;

Aura Skypool Lounge

Another way to make a splash would be to head to the highest 360-degree infinity pool in the world. Located on the 50th floor of The Palm Tower, Aura Skypool, a newly opened attraction, offers some of the most stunning views of Dubai Marina, JBR and Bluewaters Island on one side and Downtown, with Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa on the other. There are different prices and packages available, depending on your zone, and the time you’re visiting. It's the perfect weather to soak in some sun and enjoy the views.

Open daily; 10am-7pm; prices are from Dh170 for a standard lounger; The Palm Tower;

Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens

Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens is rolling out a special UAE-themed Project Art to commemorate the UAE’s 50th National Day. Photo: Zabeel House by Jumeirah

The hotel in The Greens will be hosting the work of Swedish contemporary artist Madeleine Kurtsdotter from Sunday, November 28 to Sunday, December 12. The exhibition will showcase a series of masterpieces that pay tribute to UAE, and shine a spotlight on its culture and traditions.

A live painting experience will also take place on Monday, November 29 from 11am to 2pm, with visitors able to see Kurtsdotter in action in the hotel’s lobby. An interactive workshop will take place on Monday, December 6 from 7pm to 9pm for only Dh60 per person. With all necessary materials provided, participants will have a chance to create their own greeting cards to mark the UAE’s Golden Jubilee.

Sunday, November 18 to Sunday, December 12; Zabeel House by Jumeirah, The Greens; 04 519 1111

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai – Jumeirah Beach

A handout photo of the DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai - Jumeirah Beach in Dubai (Courtesy: DoubleTree by Hilton) *** Local Caption ***  wk19ju-tr-insider-jumeirah01.JPG

The hotel is going all out with "The Big UAE Birthday Beach BBQ" in celebration of UAE's National Day at the hotel’s pristine private beach on Thursday, December 2, from 7pm to 11pm. Indulge in an enormous spread of locally sourced delicacies starring burrata made in Ras Al Khaimah and oysters from Dibba Bay, flowing starters, live grills and desserts.

A Golden Globe of the UAE themed mocktail list has been curated in an ode to the achievements of the UAE, starring the Virgin Ain Dubai Margarita Flight and The Landing To Mars. With live music and views of Ain Dubai in the distance, this might be the best way to ring in a chilled-out long weekend.

Thursday, December 2; 7pm-11pm; Dh110 per child and Dh250 per adult; DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai –Jumeirah Beach, JBR; 05516 68092


The indoor playground features eight galleries with various activities to keep children engaged. Photo: OliOli

Let the little ones have a blast at the children’s play museum OliOli, which features eight interactive galleries designed to educate and engage with the little ones.

This year, a collaboration between OliOli and Brand Dubai, the creative arm of the Government of Dubai Media Office, has led to an immersive exhibition titled My Little World.

The exhibition, which runs until Saturday, December 4, will feature the children’s stories by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, through interactive reading sessions in Arabic and English as well as hands-on activities related to the stories, in a cool indoor desert campsite setting.

My Little World exhibition is open until Saturday, December 4; Dh126 for a general admission ticket for one child and one adult; OliOli; Al Quoz;

Mister Baker

For a cool gift idea, or to inspire a little culinary creativity from the little ones, Mister Baker has launched a DIY cupcake decorating kit. Six plain cupcakes, three bags of icing in red, green and white and chocolate chips for the finishing touch are priced at Dh75.60. Perfect if you're looking for ways to keep children busy while teaching them something new.

Available until stocks last; Dh75.60; WhatsApp 056 400 5241 for delivery

Updated: November 30, 2021, 11:57 AM