No excuses for National Day, UAE car decorators warned

More on National Day: The UAE issues guidelines for drivers celebrating National Day. Failure to comply will carry steep penalties and fines of Dh2,000.

People join in celebration and show off their decorated cars during the Spirit of Union Parade at Yas Island in 2011. Silvia Razgova/The National
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ABU DHABI // Radical transformations of vehicles for National Day will carry fines of Dh2,000 and 12 black points on your driving licence.

The rules are the same for all the emirates and Maj Marwan Al Mansoori, of Ras Al Khaimah police, said: “We are on standby; our vehicles will be on the street for 24 hours a day. There are no excuses for National Day, rules are rules.”

The Ministry of Interior has issued guidelines for car decorations.

It is forbidden to change a vehicle’s colour, add noisy accessories, obscure licence plates and cover the windscreen or driver’s side window.

Drivers cannot carry more than the permitted number of people. Passengers cannot stick any body part out of the vehicle’s windows or sunroof.

Drivers are not permitted to stop on the road, at bus stops or taxi stands, or to stop in the middle of the road “to spray paint on others”.

Police across the country have pledged to uphold the laws and as well as impounding offending vehicles they will issue a Dh2,000 fine and 12 black points.

“We hope that everyone will respect each other, that nobody will do anything wrong against other people,” said Maj Marwan.

“Everyone is happy in the country on National Day and it’s our job to make sure that everyone is safe.”

Laws were well enforced last year in the capital, but the same was not true in RAK, where parades on the Corniche  lasted three days. Motorists obscured licence plates and windscreens with flags, Teddy bears, ribbons and decals of the Rulers in national colours. Little enforcement was observed.

RAK police did not reveal how many cars were fined or confiscated last year, though Dubai police said they issued 1,300 fines and impounded 99 cars.

Strong regulations have now been introduced to control festivities as the scale of National Day celebrations has grown over the past five years. Three figure fines are not enough to stop people who will spend thousands on their vehicles.

Mohammed Saeed, from the north-coast town of Al Jeer in RAK, suspects that his brother Badr has already started planning for next week.

Badr’s nickname is “Safeer Julfar” – the ambassador of Julfar – an old name for medieval RAK.

Part of his reputation as ambassador lies with his skills at festooning his vehicle on national holidays with an unparalleled creativity that showcases his love for the country.

Badr spent Dh4,000 on vehicle decorations last year.

“He put something special,” said Mr Saeed, 32. “Full decoration. Maybe this year he will do more.”

Badr always does his best to follow National Day regulations but the high penalties introduced last year did not dissuade the dedicated, including many off-duty police officers.

Thayeb Abdullah, a police officer, said last year that his Dh200 fine was “nothing” compared with the Dh2,000 he spent on his car.

“If he says to me, ‘Pay Dh1,000’ I pay but I will not take it off because that’s my day, that’s my country, you know. I don’t care,” he said on National Day last year.

Cars covered with flags can already be seen on roads, even though police have warned motorists not to decorate their cars too soon. Decorations are only permitted from November 30 until December 3.

Parade dates and times will be announced later.

Parade-goers across the country last year were subject to young men running between vehicles and spraying drivers and children with foam and silly string. There were reports of young men spraying people in the eyes and into car windows. Police said this will not be tolerated.

"In my opinion, it's not OK," said Mr Saeed. "It's not a way to celebrate. Celebrate with the flag. Celebrate with the open window so children can say 'Hi'."