National Day is a celebration which is very keenly felt: the people of the Emirates are proud of what their young country has managed to create in so few decades. It has developed from being a land prey to conquest on the part of various seafaring peoples and colonizers, above all the Portuguese and the English, to become a modern Federation with rates of development among the highest in the world: in effect, the territory of the Emirates had always been an essential point of control for all routes to and from the East, by virtue of its strategic geographical position.
Once independence had been achieved from British Colonial Rule, thanks above all to the founding father of the Emirates, Sheik Zayed, unification was established of six of the present seven Emirates, which founded the Federation on 2 December 1971. The following year, the seventh Emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, also joined.
Every year since then, the day of the National Festival has been a not to be missed appointment for natives of the Emirates and also for most of the people who live in the Emirates, that is, over 70% of the inhabitants. It is a moment of national pride, of cohesion and celebration of the goals achieved, which is accompanied by the desire to continue along the chosen path of unity and development.
Al-Eid Al Watani (the name of the anniversary in Arabic) is felt as much in the great centres of Abu Dhabi and Dubai as in the smaller Emirates: celebrations are organized all over the national territory of the Emirates, and the high point of these is represented by the processions which set off along the streets of the cities. Those in the capital and Dubai are particularly rich and spectacular: groups of dancers, agile flag flyers, percussionists, the armed forces, along with splendid horses, valuable camels and dromedaries, enormous flags, enormous blow up balloons depicting the rulers and their ministers or, for examples, the Dubai metro (!), carts reproducing the architectonic icons of the Emirates in general and of the cities specifically… A spectacle which is rich in contagious exuberance as well as in music and colour.
Then there are the particularly evocative processions by water on board dhows and abra – the characteristic wooden boats of the region, which range from medium-small in dimension to out and out ships, capable of holding hundreds of people – and the daring acrobatics of the air force: a never ending spectacle, which devotes particular attention to children, offering them attractions and entertainments in line with the joyous atmosphere that can be experienced on the occasion each year.
Apart from the processions, there are dozens of cultural events: musical and theatrical shows, special opening hours for business and trade, competitions, conventions, exhibitions and cookery competitions. All museums and monuments are open on the day of the National Festival of the Emirates so as to allow everyone a visit which is often not possible on weekdays (or during holidays, when they are usually closed).
Also in terms of tourism, the National Day has developed, year after year, into a moment of great attraction: it is an ideal period, also in terms of the climate, and offers a stimulus to discover or to return to visit a country which has at its disposal a vast array of attractions, activities, culture, fun and entertainments, all to be experienced in an environment offering total comfort both in terms of cutting edge receptive facilities and efficient services.
To round off this range of celebrations, there are the unfailing firework displays, with their rich play of light and spectacular effects, which literally leave adults and little ones with their gaze fixed skywards!
Photograph provided courtesy of HopeHubris