The people of the United Arab Emirates celebrate UAE National Day every 2nd December. This year, it’s going to be a festive long weekend, with 30th November serving as the Commemoration Day and 1st December as the public holiday for the sector. The National Day itself falls on a Saturday, with the following Sunday, 3rd December, serving as an extended holiday.
Why it’s observed
On December 2, 1971, the country witnessed the first hoisting of its flag at the Union House in Dubai. The landmark moment represents the unification of the seven emirates that now comprise the UAE.
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is the country’s first president and founding father, led the commemoration. Inspired by his message of solidarity, the annual National Day celebration always follows the theme, “Spirit of the Union.”
During this holiday, the colors red, white, green and black are ubiquitous. So is the Spirit of the Union logo, which shows the UAE flag and the founding members of the federation. The falcon, which is the country’s national symbol, is also displayed on buildings and other structures.
Things to do to celebrate UAE National Day
Today, several activities mark the important occasion. These range from fireworks displays, air shows and vibrant parades to national anthem recitations, musical concerts and big-day sales. Plan your celebrations better with this roundup of the things you can do at UAE National Day 2023.
1. Witness the Dubai Police’s parade
Feel the UAE’s collective pride when you watch a grand parade courtesy of Dubai’s Police at Rashid Boulevard.
With music propelled by a brass and drum section, the parade usually features vehicles from government departments, dancers donning traditional costumes, and extravagant floats. Some floats have wildlife as elements while others have replicas of architectural marvels like the Burj Al Arab. Meanwhile, you can also catch the Dubai Police Marching Band at Al Seef. The march represents various segments of the Dubai Police.
2. Visit the iconic Burj Khalifa
Every UAE National Day celebration, Burj Khalifa becomes clad in the colors of the UAE flag. The world’s tallest building, evoking a sense of nationalism, attracts a thick crowd. These include Emiratis and tourists alike.
To complement the impressive vista, the Dubai Fountain also plays a fountain show choreographed to the national anthem. This year, you can catch the shows at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.
3. Catch a fireworks display
Dazzling fireworks display light up the UAE skies as the country commemorates the unification of the seven emirates. Attending one is one of the most popular ways to bask in a joyful atmosphere during this time of the year.
This is also why several venues host their own fireworks show. Some of the places you can visit include La Mer, Al Seef, Abu Dhabi Corniche, The Beach in JBR and Bluewaters. Usually, these events last from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
However, the festivities don’t end there. After the display, many venues also stage free concerts and cultural shows.
4. Watch an air show
Before colorful fireworks take over the skies, impressive airshows will be in the spotlight first. In the UAE capital, the Abu Dhabi Corniche gathers a huge crowd with its yearly colorful air show of fighter jets. The show sees participation not just from the country’s air force but from various airlines as well. The flight takes off from Ras Al Khaimah and then to Abu Dhabi.
5. Head to Palm Jumeirah
The palm tree-inspired man-made island is an ideal place to be if you want to soak up the culture. The island itself is home to sought-after destinations such as The Pointe. There, you and your loved ones can enjoy live music, good food and breathtaking fireworks at night. Additionally, you can take advantage of National Day promotions and get yourself unique souvenirs in commemoration of the occasion.
Alternatively, you can just hop on The Palm Monorail and admire views of prominent structures such as the Al Ittihad Park, Nakheel Mall and Atlantis Aquaventure Waterpark minus the heavy traffic.
6. Sample authentic Emirati cuisine
Similar to other celebrations, the UAE National Day 2023 won’t be complete without some culinary adventure. Try a machboos or a lamb ouzi then cap off your meal with a luqaimat. After a hearty meal, you might want to add the Dubai Garden Center to your itinerary. Located Along Sheikh Zayed Road, it is open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Apart from free food samples, you can also enjoy cultural performances and other exciting activities.
7. Explore the Expo City
The Expo City in Dubai stands as a modern symbol of the UAE’s commitment to advancing its infrastructure and urban living endeavors without compromising sustainability. During the UAE National Day, it becomes particularly lively. Guests here can tickle their senses by savoring delectable food and witnessing the stunning Al Wasl light show.
The area is free to enter. Nonetheless, some optional attractions and pavilions have fees. The pavilions welcome guests from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
8. Spend time with nature
While many associate the UAE with cosmopolitan vibes, it offers many spots where you can reconnect with nature. One of the best times to visit places like these is during National Day.
Bathe in the serene atmosphere of Al Mamzar Park on the Dubai-Sharjah border during the extended weekend. This ideal picnic spot offers beaches, grassy areas, bicycle paths, a swimming pool, barbecue areas and a skate park. Moreover, you can explore the Hajar mountains for a picturesque hike and visit the Guinness World Record-winning Hatta sign. At 19.28 meters, it is the world’s tallest landmark. You can also paddle your way into the lush mangroves of Jubail, Abu Dhabi, an ideal place to reflect while enjoying peace and admiring nature’s beauty.
There are various ways to celebrate the UAE National Day 2023. Whether you prefer parades and fireworks or want to immerse yourself in cultural richness, this holiday offers a chance to embrace the undying “Spirit of the Union.”
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