UAE National Day in Abu Dhabi

Find out where and how to celebrate the UAE's 43rd anniversary

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The UAE is celebrating its founding this week; make sure you don’t miss out on the very special occasion.

Noticed the many UAE flags of all shapes and sizes that have sprung up all over the city in the past week or so? Of course you have, because they’re everywhere, and with good reason too. UAE National Day is on the horizon, which means it’s time to wave a flag of your own and get in the spirit.

The UAE is celebrating 43 years of unity on December 2, which means you should be celebrating too. National Day is a time to look back with pride at the development of the country we call home since it was founded, and even further back to the cultural origins of the region. It’s a time to look back and reflect, and to educate yourself on the history of the country you currently live in, to look to the future, but above all, to join in with your fellow Abu Dhabi residents and have a fun, enjoyable event.

A day off for many, be sure to make the most of the special occasion. Decorated cars, thousands of people and impressive fireworks made the Corniche the place to be in 2013 – if you can stand the crowds, then TOAD recommends joining in the fun down by the water. If that isn’t your thing, then no matter where you end up next Tuesday, make sure you have a good one for the United Arab Emirates.

Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival
National Day can be about more than just waving your flag. There’s no better time to learn about the history of the UAE than the anniversary of when the country was founded, and no better place than the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival. A living museum in honour of the UAE, the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival will bring Emirati culture and history to life through live attractions and activities for all the family to partake in. Workshops, exhibitions and replicas of early settlements will help tell the story of the early life of the UAE and its surroundings, namely the desert, the oasis, mountains and the sea.

One of the more notable exhibitions that will open to the public around National Day is ‘Memories of a Nation’, which will showcase rare photographs and documents relating to the earliest moments in the history of the UAE. The ‘Zayed and The Horse’ exhibition, and the ‘Ahmad ibn Majid: the Emirati Navigator’ and ‘Majidi ibn Dhaher: the Emirati Poet’ museums are also worth paying a visit to.

Craftsman workshops, Emirati folk arts and music, and an international market will all encourage visitors to take part and interact with living UAE heritage.

Memories of a Nation
The centrepiece of the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival, ‘Memories of a Nation’ is an exhibition that history buffs and culture vultures will love. Dedicated to the life of Sheikh Zayed and his achievements, the collection of attractions uses the latest technology including holograms and interactive displays to tell the story of the life of the founding President of the UAE and his goals and dreams for the country.
November 20-December 12. For information, a location map and for a full festival schedule, please visit www.zayedfestival.com. Off E30, outside Al Wathba (800 555, 02 583 9200).

Celebrate The UAE’s 43rd National Day at Emirates Palace
National Day is all about celebrating the best of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, and where better to do that than at one of the capital’s most iconic landmarks, Emirates Palace? This year the hotel’s celebration will be bigger than ever, including food, shows and documentaries all focused on the number 43.

From Nov 29-Dec 5, guests at Emirates Palace will be able to join in with the National Day festivities by seeing a colourful laser show light up the night sky and a 43-piece cake display located in the middle of the central Palace dome, decorated with visual designs of the seven rulers of the UAE.

Guests can also sample 43 different varieties of dates, watch a video greeting from more than 60 members of the Emirates Palace staff of different nationalities, and watch a documentary (in English or Arabic) produced by the National Centre for Documentation and Research to learn about the history of the UAE.

In addition, in keeping with the spirit of National Day, Emirates Palace will be lit in the colours of the UAE flag, and all visitors will be provided with stickers to decorate their cars for the parade on the Corniche.

And if that isn’t enough, all 14 restaurants, cafés and lounges throughout Emirates Palace will display irresistible and decadent desserts in the UAE national colours. Guests looking for an authentic local experience can enjoy lunch or dinner at Mezlai, one of the most original fine-dining Emirati restaurants in Abu Dhabi. There will also be a special National Day lottery with 43 prizes to be won.
Emirates Palace, Corniche West. www.emiratespalace.com (02 690 9000).

The National Day Parade – make sure to follow the rules
One of the most iconic, and fun, parts of National Day celebrations is the parade of decorated cars that line the Corniche throughout the day. Joining in is a great way to get involved and to feel part of the festivities (residents can decorate their cars to celebrate National Day between November 22 and December 6), but make sure you adhere to the rules as laid out by the Abu Dhabi Police. Break them, and you could face having your vehicle impounded, a Dhs2,000 fine and 12 black points on your licence for endangering the public.

• Don’t change the colour of your vehicle (no impromptu paint jobs with a tin of Dulux).

• Don’t cover your number plate, intentionally or unintentionally.

• Don’t use any material or colour to distort the windscreen on the driver’s side.

• Don’t hang out of the window or sun roof of your car, regardless of the speed of your vehicle.

• Don’t overload your car with more people or weight than it is supposed to carry.

Key dates in the history of the UAE

1498
The Portuguese land in the region.

1600s
After many battles, the Ottomans drive the Portuguese settlers from the region, bringing what is now the UAE into the Ottoman Empire.

1800s
The Trucial States enter into an agreement with the British which includes its protection against invasion from all other aggressive countries, solidifying ties between the two countries.

1930s
Japan develops the cultured pearl, which all but destroys the Trucial States own lucrative pearl industry.

1962
Abu Dhabi begins exporting oil.

1968
The British Government announces it will withdraw from the region.

1971
All British influence in the Trucial States ceases. His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan agrees a constitution with five other individual states which is signed and comes into force on December 2, 1971, the day after the UK fully withdraws from the region. The UAE is born, Sheikh Zayed is voted its first President and becomes known as the country's Founding Father.

1972
The last remaining independent sheikhdom, Ras Al Khaimah, joins the United Arab Emirates.

2004
Sheikh Zayed passes away. His son, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, becomes the next President of the UAE and continues the Founding Father’s work in the country.

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