Photo courtesy of Christopher Viseux

UAE National Day, and what it means to many.

National Day is marked on the 2nd of December of each year, and it is marked in the heart of every Emirati as the day we revive the love for our beloved country.

Dec 12, 2022

I stood on the podium and adjusted the microphone to my height. I looked around at the audience, from kindergarten students to seniors, all waiting for me to recite my poem. A poem written by His Highness, Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, about my beloved country's flag, called “Knights of the Flag”. I glance at the UAE flag fluttering in front of me and take a deep breath, reminding myself of the meaning of the poem, exploring emotions of patriotism and pride in my country’s flags and values.
As I recite the poem, I hear the echo of my voice across the stadium and reverberate the emotions of the words I utter in my heart, reminding myself of the education I am pursuing to strive towards giving back to my country. Nearing the end of the poem, my heart swells with pride as I recite the concluding phrase about raising the flag up high.
Photo by Roudha Almarzouqi
2nd of December marks the UAE National Day each year, and it is marked in the heart of every Emirati as the day we revisit our love of our beloved country. This year marks 51 years since the beginning of this beautiful union, a union that enabled us to receive all the blessings of this country. My dad expresses what this day means to him, “It is a day that provided me with the stability and security to build my life in every aspect all under the UAE’s care.”
“National Day is a day where we celebrate our history. It’s a day that makes me realize how lucky we are to have our leaders and government prioritize our needs,” shares Mariam Al Shamsi, Class of 2026, when asked about the significance of National Day. This resonated with me, as I believe it is a reminder of all that our leaders have provided us with and a reminder to want to give back to our country.
National Day is celebrated throughout the UAE in all institutions, schools, and universities. It is about showcasing our traditions and patriotism through our culture, such as females adorning themselves in traditional Emirati dresses and jewelry, Emirati households giving away traditional dishes, and men performing the Al Ayyala folk dance.
Photo by Roudha Almarzouqi
“National Day is a day that I look forward to as it unites my family. We gather together to celebrate the formation of my country’s union by playing traditional games passed on from our parents,” commented Mariam Alblooshi, a student of University of Sharjah, on how National Day reminds her of the union of the UAE and the bond of her family.
National Day highlights common practices while unearthing traditional games that have been passed down through generations. One of these games is “Karaby”, which consists of two players competing on who can hop on one leg for the longest. It is a simple game yet filled with laughter and joy. Another traditional game is called “I’m the wolf, I’ll eat you,” consisting of players with three roles; one is the wolf, one is the mother, and the rest of the players are children, anonymously representing themselves with different colors. The game starts off with the wolf singing, “I am the wolf, I will eat you”, to which the mother replies with, “I’m the mother, I will protect you (the children)”. The wolf starts guessing the colors of the children, when he gets one right, he takes that child until they are all gone.
Dhabia Albedwawi, a student of UAE University, touched on how her family celebrates National Day. “I celebrate the National Day by going on a family getaway in different locations of the UAE. We generally spend the night in the desert sandboarding and practicing similar entertaining activities.”
Sightseeing and exploring new areas around the seven Emirates is a common practice during this day. It is a chance to explore and witness traditional practices that are showcased to the public on this day in multiple parts of the country.
Laila Al-Eisawi, Class of 2023, has been a resident of the UAE for the past nine years. She spoke about how special this day is in a diverse community, “Seeing everyone come together and celebrate with different cultural norms, decorations, dances and traditional dishes. National Day also reminds me of how proud and safe I feel living here.”
​​The national holiday is also a holiday to all expats living in the UAE, where they can travel to different emirates to witness the celebrations and get a taste of the culture. It is beautiful how despite the differences in backgrounds and cultures, all expat communities come together to celebrate the formation of this tolerant union.
Photo by Roudha Almarzouqi
Tasnem Al Kaddah, a student from University of Sharjah and a resident who has lived most of her life in the UAE, discussed what National Day means to her, “For me, the National Day is a day of celebrating achievements of my second home, of expressing how much I love this country and showing how proud and thankful I am to be one of its residents.”
The UAE is home to 9 million people and continues to welcome people from all around the world. In such a diverse community, it is important to exhibit the culture and traditions of the UAE and to teach residents about them. National Day is an opportunity to showcase those values and traditions and for residents to explore the culture more.
Roudha Almarzouqi is a Staff Writer. Email her at
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