President Sheikh Mohamed and Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi on Friday led the celebrations as the nation came together to mark UAE Flag Day.
The UAE leader proudly raised the national flag at a ceremony at Qasr Al Hosn in Abu Dhabi alongside the trailblazing explorer, who returned to Earth in September after a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.
Flag Day is observed on November 3 each year to celebrate the accession of the late Sheikh Khalifa as President of the UAE in 2004.
“On Flag Day, we stand in unity to raise the UAE flag which symbolises the pride and loyalty of the nation,” Sheikh Mohamed wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
“As we join together to mark this occasion, I remain fully confident in the ability of the next generation to create a brighter future for all.”
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, marked the occasion with a message on social media, accompanied by a video highlighting Emirati achievements.
“Our union's symbol, our glory's banner, the flag of our nation, the flag of the United Arab Emirates,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on X.
Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, raised the UAE flag at Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court.
He said Flag Day was a treasured national occasion that the UAE celebrated with great pride because it symbolised the country’s values of unity and cohesion.
Flying the flag for nation's heroes
Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed, Chairman of the Office of Development and Martyrs Families Affairs at the Presidential Court, raised the UAE flag at Wahat Al Karama, Abu Dhabi's memorial site honouring armed forces members who died in the line of duty.
“Today, we celebrate a poignant occasion in the UAE calendar that encapsulate our nation’s unwavering unity,” said Sheikh Theyab.
“On UAE Flag Day, we also remember our martyrs, who gave so much to protect our country. Their courage inspires us, and their sacrifices will be honoured without pause or end.”
Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, Deputy Ruler of Abu Dhabi, said the UAE flag “embodies the strength and affinity of our Union”.
“It is a source of pride and determination to our patriotic and dutiful citizens,” he wrote on X.
“On Flag Day, we pray that Allah protects the UAE and perpetuates its prosperity and stability on its path towards excellence in all fields.”
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, also told of the importance of the nation's flag.
“The UAE flag will always stand as a symbol of pride thanks to the sacrifices and accomplishments of its people and their unceasing efforts to add to its impressive list of achievements,” he wrote on social media.
Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of Education, also underlined the significance of occasion.
“Today, we reaffirm our commitment to the values of our founding fathers and our pride in the UAE’s comprehensive and sustainable development under the vigorous vision and directives of our leadership, which have cemented the UAE’s position globally,” he said.
Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, attended a flag-raising ceremony at Al Qawasim Corniche in the emirate.
“The UAE flag is a symbol of the country's strength and unity, and will remain raised high with the will and determination of the UAE people, and their tireless efforts,” he said, according to state news agency Wam.
Sheikha Fatima, Mother of the Nation, said Flag Day is a special occasion that inspires unity, cohesion and a sense of belonging to the homeland, and a sense of connection to the UAE's wise leadership, Wam reported.
“On Flag Day, we raise our flag and unite around it, as it represents the glory and leadership of our country, and reignites our pride in our rich history and heritage,” said Sheikha Fatima.
Patriotic pride on display
Schools across the country marked the occasion with ceremonies and assemblies, as pupils sported national dress or the colours of the UAE flag.
Richard John Drew, principal at Jumeira Baccalaureate School, said Friday was a non-uniform day as pupils dressed in colours of the UAE flag or national attire.
Pupils, teachers and parents came together on the school field for a flag-raising ceremony.
British International School Abu Dhabi is home to 2,080 pupils from 96 countries, with one in five being Emirati.
The school celebrated UAE Flag Day as all pupils and teachers gathered under the flag.
Principal Alan Cocker spoke to the crowd of more than 2,000 pupils about the symbolic importance of flags in bringing people together.
It was one of eight private schools in the emirate that were rated outstanding for promoting national identity by the Department of Education and Knowledge.
Chris Lowes, head of the secondary school, said: “Flag Day is always a wonderful occasion which brings the school community together in one place to celebrate the Emirati flag and all that it means for the United Arab Emirates.”
At Repton Al Barsha, pupils celebrated by hosting a flag-raising ceremony and creative art projects.
“This year, on UAE Flag Day, we have designed a few activities and an event to commemorate this important national symbol and instil a deep sense of patriotism among our students and staff,” said Chandini Misra, school principal.
“Our students in the foundation stage and junior school had the chance to express their creativity through flag-themed art and craft projects. This hands-on approach will allow them to connect with the flag on a personal level and showcase their artistic talents.
“Throughout the morning, our students engaged in an educational presentation that explore the history, symbolism, and values associated with the UAE flag.
“UAE Flag Day is important to Repton Al Barsha as it is not only a tradition but a valuable opportunity to instil a sense of pride, unity and national identity among our students.”
Repton Al Barsha currently has 35 Emirati pupils, from 23 families.