On UAE National Day, it's the little decals that matter when transforming your car

Drivers gear up for festivities with a traditional motoring make-over

The UAE is getting all decked out for National Day - and that includes the cars, too.

The seven emirates will be transformed into a sea of red, white, green and black for the 47th annual celebration of the formation of the country on Sunday and revved up residents have been pulling out all the stops to get in on the fun.

Decorating cars with decals featuring the national colours and images of UAE rulers has become a major driver force behind festivities in recent years, especially for those showing off their vehicles at parades taking place on Yas Island and the Corniche in Abu Dhabi.

This year has been no different, with motorists going car-azy for National Day at the capital's car decorating strip in Mussafah.


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Some arrived at the car decal garages on their own with a specific design in mind, while others came in groups to discuss what cool look to go for, while two young Emiratis even turned up with a falcon in hand.

“We take the falcon with us everywhere, he never leaves our side,” said Obaid Mansour, a 17-year-old pupil who came along with cousin Ahmad Al Mazrouei.

The pair had taken the falcon – a gyr shaheen named Azzam, and one of their family’s camels - to national day festivities at Al Nahda International school for girls, before hitting the shop.

They were decorating their car in order to take part in a parade in Liwa.

On the left side of the shop, stood a 42-year-old Emirati eyeing the work on his car closely.

Posters of Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the UAE President, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, covered the car from front to back.

“Every year I change the design,” said Rashid Al Muhairbi, whose birthday coincides with National Day on Dec 2.

“And I always paste this sentence: ‘my joy is two joys, the day my country united and my birthday December 2’.”

Every year he celebrates with his friends after fireworks light the sky to close the parade at the Corniche.

“They bring me a cake and gifts and we celebrate at the wave-breaker.”

Mohammed Rafiq, a graphic designer at Grand Plus car accessories’ shop, was busy customising the font of the sentence Mr Al Muhairbi ordered on the computer.

“We have a collection of logos and slogans the customer can choose from, or sometimes they bring a design from the internet and I implement it here on the computer,” he said.

He said so far they had decorated about 50 cars, and from previous years’ experience, he expects the number to double by Sunday.

Outside the garage, three Emirati students debated the size of the flag they will be pasting on their Audi.

The trio were taking measurements and buying decals for a car decorating contest at Khalifa University.

“We have to buy the decals and take them to campus, where all the teams will decorate their cars, said Mohammed Al Dhali, a 20-year-old chemical engineering student.

“The team with the best design wins. They said we can only have a budget of 100 dirhams, so all teams decorate with equal resources.”

Deyaa Al Deen Al Zobi, owner of Super Style car accessories’ shop, said National Day decal trends have been changing over the years.

“Previously customers mostly focused on pictures of Sheikh Zayed, but since a few years they have been requesting pictures of Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed as well.”

He pointed to a poster that shows Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed carrying out a military salute, with two soldiers holding the UAE flag on top of a tank in the background.

“This is the latest poster introduced this year,” he said.

Back in the Gold Plus shop, two young men decided “to do something different” and dress-down their car decoration this year.

They simply placed an A4-sized profile picture of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed on the left corner of the front glass, and a black and white photo of Sheikh Zayed on the tyre cover in the back.

“I will also put stripes representing the UAE flag to run from the front to the back like the lines on the Mustang. it will add contrast,” said Abdulazeez Al Housani, 23.

“This is the first time I go after a simple design, I usually put a lot of flags, this time I wanted something simple to be unique from the others who over decorate.”