Thousands turn up in force in downtown Dubai to cheer on National Day parade

More than 3,000 people took part in Dubai's National Day parade, which featured emergency services, businesses and community groups.

A parade celebrating the UAE’s National Day passes through the streets of Downtown Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National
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DUBAI // Thousands of people of all nationalities and backgrounds proudly flew the flag high as they lined up to see the National Day parade on Sunday.

Crowds cheered as a procession featuring the emergency services, businesses and community groups made its way through Downtown Dubai.

Dubai Police officers on horseback marched in formation at the head of the parade, holding the flag, followed by various police and Civil Defence vehicles.

The festivities began at about 2.30pm, with crowds lining Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard to cheer.

“It’s fantastic the way they have put the parade together, and to see so many people of all backgrounds here is amazing,” said Briton Darren Ford, who has lived in Dubai for seven years.

“It’s a double celebration for a lot of people because of the Expo win and it just shows how far Dubai has come.”

Mr Ford was one of many people impressed by the scale of the celebrations. He planned to stay until the evening to watch the fireworks display at the Burj Khalifa.

More than 3,000 people took part in theparade, which included drummers, marching bands and a number of floats.

The crowd was particularly impressed by the contribution from the Indian community, with traditional dancers in bright, colourful costumes and giant model elephants.

Farheen Usmani, a Pakistani mother of two who was with her young children, praised the country’s leadership.

"You only have to look at the number of people and all the different backgrounds they are from to see what a thriving country we have here," she said.

“It’s been a very colourful parade and my children have enjoyed seeing the costumes and music.

“I don’t think you need to be an Emirati to be proud to live in Dubai. As a Muslim it’s a safe and tolerant country to live in and I’m proud that it’s getting recognition internationally.”

For Markee Fuentes, from the Philippines, this was the first time he has been able to enjoy National Day celebrations in the three years he has lived in Dubai.

“In the past I’ve always had to work but today I have an evening shift so I decided to come out here to see the celebrations,” he said.

“It’s good to see so many of the different communities represented in the parade.

“My favourite was the Indian community. They had models of large elephants and were dancing in colourful costumes.”

Emirati Ahmed Al Menhali travelled from Abu Dhabi to enjoy the celebrations.

“We usually have a family get together on National Day but this year I thought I have a change and spend a couple of days in Dubai to celebrate,” he said.

“I wasn’t aware that there was going to be a parade but I’m really impressed so many foreign nationals are here and enjoying themselves.

“It’s great to see so many people of all backgrounds here and taking part in the celebrations.

“The rest of my family have gone to celebrate with relatives in Al Ain so I’m here with friends and we plan to spend both days in Dubai.

“I can’t wait to see what other celebrations and events have been planned.”

A Filipino, Ian Villamarin, watched the parade on his day off.

“We have just completed our contracts from our employers and are waiting for new ones, so we’re enjoying some time off,” he said.

“I’ve been really impressed with the design and care people have put into designing and making their parade floats.

“The atmosphere around here is very relaxed and people and the weather make it a wonderful occasion.”