08/11/09 - Abu Dhabi, UAE -Ali Alsaloom, of Ask Ali column for M Magazine, stands in front of the skyline of Abu Dhabi on November 8, 2009.  (Andrew Henderson / The National)
Andrew Henderson / The National

On flying flags and the Heritage Village

The respectful way to fly national flags and how to visit Heritage Village
Dear Ali: A lot of people here in the UAE are showing their patriotism during the World Cup. In the US, if you want to fly another country's flag, the law states you must fly the American flag next to it. Is there a similar law regarding the UAE flag? EC, Abu Dhabi

Dear EC: I couldn't believe that the US had such a law, but it's true: Title Four of the United States Code regulates the proper display of the Stars and Stripes. "When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation in time of peace."

The law also includes a section about not using the flag for "wearing apparel, bedding or drapery", which means that those US fans in South Africa dressed in the red, white and blue are technically breaking the law. Our country is fairly relaxed about displays of nationalism. You might have noticed how many cars here have small flags of other Arab and Gulf countries. Our Government also doesn't mind the display of international flags during events such as the World Cup.

Any time you hoist a large symbol of another country, you should be mindful of your intentions and timing. It might not have been a great idea, for example, to fly the flag of Denmark after the blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) were printed in a Danish newspaper. We are a Muslim country, so many of us would interpret such displays as an insult to our religion. But if you are just a proud Danish football supporter, then by all means show your colours. The other exception is Israel's flag, because of the ongoing dispute most Arab governments have with that country.

Flying the UAE flag is a wonderful way to show that you respect your new home country. Just be sure that it is in good condition -burning or mistreatment of our flag is seen as a sign of disrespect. And make sure the green strip on the flag is flown on top or it might be mistaken for Palestine's flag since we share the same colours and design.

Dear Ali: Is it possible to visit Abu Dhabi's Heritage Village without being part of a tour group? MK, Abu Dhabi Dear MK: Of course, visit by yourself or with friends and family - it is one of the few places in the city that really captures our cultural past. Things to look for include the re-creations of our traditional hairhouses, which our forefathers would use for shelter from the harsh elements, as well as a windtower, the ingenious structure that cools a house by funnelling cooler air inside. The Village, managed by the Emirates Heritage Club, also has a traditional market where shopkeepers sell crafts, leather goods and handmade bishts, the golden-threaded robes worn by the sheikhs. And before you ask, yes, there is a camel. I call him My Humps, after the song by The Black Eyed Peas.

The museum displays fascinating photos and artefacts from our past, and you can learn why the khandoura was originally not white but brown, which, as you might know, is the official khandoura colour of my Ask Ali brand. The Heritage Village is located next to the giant flag pole near the breakwater. It is open from 9am to 1pm and from 5pm to 9pm every day except Sunday. Entrance is free, but I'm sure the shopkeepers would appreciate your business.