Families and tourists take in National Day celebrations in Dubai
DUBAI // Early morning visits to the beach and learning more about how the UAE was formed were among the many ways residents enjoyed the 43rd National Day.
Many motorists marked the day by attaching flags to their vehicles or by adorning their bonnets with UAE colours.
Crowds at The Walk in Jumeirah Beach Residence and near Burj Khalifa began to swell as the day wore on, with families and couples making the most of the national holiday.
“I’m enjoying the day off work as it’s in the middle of the week,” said Peruvian Olga Nunes, 35.
“It’s been a nice week with all the celebrations. I was with some friends on the beach near the Burj Al Arab on Monday night and saw the fireworks.”
It was the first National Day that Ms Nunes, an estate agent, experienced.
“Last year I was away on holiday, so this will be my first proper National Day in Dubai and we’ve planned a meal at a restaurant later,” she said.
“Unfortunately our holiday is only for one day so we’re back in work on Wednesday.”
James and Margaret Finnigan, from Toronto, were in town this week to visit their daughter.
“We’ve been to Dubai and Abu Dhabi before and thought now would be a good time to come to the UAE and take a break from Canadian weather,” said Mrs Finnigan.
“It’s been a very relaxed day so far. We’ve got a family meal planned at City Walk and are hoping to take in the fireworks.”
The couple, along with many people, had spent some time examining the Journey to the Union exhibition at the Star Atrium in Dubai Mall.
“The black and white photographs are fascinating,” said Mr Finnigan.
“You get a real sense of what life was like for people before the country was formed.”
The exhibition, organised by the Watani Al Emarat Foundation, features archival photographs and government documents dating back to the creation of the union and earlier. It ends on Saturday.
For 45-year-old Emirati Majed Al Khoory, National Day was the first of a five-day holiday and he was planning to enjoy it with his family.
“We’re going to the Creek later in the evening as I think it will be a nice evening to be outside and sharing the holiday with other people,” he said while draped in a UAE scarf.
“It truly amazes me how much this country has changed in such a short period of time.
“Each time we celebrate National Day it seems like it follows a year of new achievements.”
In Dubai Marina, boating enthusiasts took to the water for a National Day parade, with many decking their vessels out in the UAE colours.
Huge flags, balloons and bunting were draped on many of the more than 30 boats – from speed boats to luxury yachts – taking part in the parade. One even sported a giant Burj Khalifa made from plastic piping painted silver.
All were competing for the prize of the best outfitted boat in celebrations at Dubai Marina Yacht Club as they sailed up and down the length of the marina to the delight of cheering crowds.
British expatriate Adam Page had the parade’s smallest boat, a custom-made speed boat built in Dubai.
Competition judges said it had “the biggest party” despite its size.
“It’s a really good, fun event. Everyone comes together for National Day. It’s nice to come together to appreciate what we have here in Dubai,” Mr Page said of his second time participating in the event.
David Dodson and his wife Hayley, both Britons, took part for the first time with their yacht Susan Ann, which was placed second in the competition.
“It was awesome taking part,” said Mr Dodson, a deep-sea diver.
“I live in the marina and, for me, that’s the heart of Dubai. So this is a good place to celebrate being here and our life in Dubai. It was a really good turnout and there’s a lot of excitement for National Day.”
Emirati Mohammed Al Bastaki was one of the judges. “It was good for me to see everyone coming together. Everyone is happy in the UAE and this really shows that,” said the director of marina operations.
At The Walk, 25-year-old Australian Janet Perkins, a finance professional from Brisbane, said: “I’ve been in Dubai for three years and National Day always seems to have a really good atmosphere to it.”
Her friend and compatriot, Elaine Ferguson, 27, from Sydney, would have preferred getting more days off like public-sector workers do.
“Having said that, I have to remind myself how lucky I am to live and work in Dubai and these celebrations help me to do that,” she said.
Published: December 2, 2014 04:00 AM