Saudis living in the UAE laud love of country

Saudi Arabians across the UAE expressed their patriotism in celebration of their country’s 86th national day on Friday.
Anas Tayim, 27, will celebrate Saudi National Day by going off-roading in the desert. Satish Kumar / The National
Anas Tayim, 27, will celebrate Saudi National Day by going off-roading in the desert. Satish Kumar / The National

ABU DHABI // Saudis across the UAE expressed their patriotism in celebration of their country’s 86th national day on Friday.

Anas Tayim, 27, plans to go off-roading in the desert in the afternoon with a dozen friends.

“We off-road off the Hatta-­Oman road and sometimes barbecue until the evening,” he said. “We’re a mixed group of Saudis, Emiratis, Germans, Italians, Palestinians, Lebanese and Jordanians, men and women, between the ages of 21 and 40.”

He said the weather at this time of year was ideal for desert treks, especially when temperatures dip below 30°C at night.

“It’s really amazing,” said Mr Tayim, who has lived in the UAE for 16 years.

“I like to celebrate Saudi national day but it can be hard to do it outside of Saudi Arabia because you’re in a country that is not your own,” he said, adding that having family with him in the UAE made a big difference.

“Half of my family is here and the other half is between Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. I definitely think it’s important to celebrate national day because we like to show our respect and love to our country.”

Hayfa Al Harbi, a businesswoman who works in real estate, plans on gathering friends at home for a traditional Saudi meal.

“National day and patriotism are celebrated every day,” the 29-year-old said.

“But the day is a reminder of the spirit of the country and it is a day for people to stop and think about everything their country has given them. In my case, I feel grateful for the peace, prosperity and security that the Saudi government has given me.”

She said living in the UAE for the past five years had made her even more patriotic.

“I feel that my sense of belonging is heightened when I am away from home, although I don’t feel like a stranger at all here because I identify as an Arab too,” she said.

“No words can express what my country means to me. It is the place where I was born. It’s where I grew up and went to school. That’s where my family and loved ones are, so it’s like asking me to describe my love for my mother or my father. In a sense, the homeland is very much like a person’s mother or father.”

Others agreed. “I am patriotic in that I still belong in Saudi and I feel I relate to it in many ways,” said Danah Nassief, 33, a graphic design teacher at Zayed University who moved to the UAE three weeks ago.

“I am invested in Saudi because it’s the only place I feel like I belong.”

Although she has no celebrations planned, she hoped there were more official events organised.

“I will probably go for dinner with friends,” she said. “I would want to be part of something specifically for national day so maybe there should be more Saudi-related events here.”

Relations between the UAE and Saudi Arabia have strengthened over the years, with both countries recently reinforcing cooperation to achieve security and stability in the region.

On Wednesday, Al Sufouh Street in Dubai was renamed after King Salman of Saudi Arabia on the orders of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

The Burj Khalifa will also be lit up with the colours of the Saudi flag from Thursday night until Saturday. Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed, the President’s Representative, also congratulated King Salman, custodian of the two holy mosques, on the occasion of the country’s national day.

cmalek@thenational.ae

Published: September 22, 2016 04:00 AM

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