This year the traditional National Day parade is being held at Burj Dubai Boulevard. Head there from 4pm on December 1 and you’ll find all sorts of fun: a colourful float representing Emirati history and culture, traditional dancing, falconry, decorated cars and, of course, fireworks. Everything is free and open to the public – check dubaiculture.ae for more.
Meanwhile, Dubai International Marine Club [DIMC] has a roster of water-based fun lined up, including a National Day Festival, in which yachts and boats will cruise from Al Seefa at Dubai Creek (opposite the British Embassy) over to Shindagha on December 2. There will also be a UAE Lifeguard Championship at JBR beach on December 6. The traditional dhow sailing race will then be held at DIMC on December 4. Check dimc.ae for details.
The city’s malls are all keen to show the UAE some love. Mall of the Emirates is hosting live entertainment from Emirati hip-hoppers Desert Heat and breakdancers Al Ain Boys, plus cultural exhibitions and falconry displays. Deira City Centre is staging daily live Emirati singing and dancing, with Emirati craft and Bedouin game workshops, held opposite Carrefour from December 1-4. You’ll find more local shows at Festival City, including live music from the qanun (an old Egyptian harp), falconry displays and daily fireworks at 8pm from November 30 until December 2. See dubaifestivalcity.com for the full lowdown.
Finally, from November 27 to December 5, Dubai Mall will be going National Day crazy, with a 40-member local band among the fun. (Look out for the Dubai Aquarium divers carrying the UAE flag.) See thedubaimall.com for more information. All the malls (including Ibn Battuta) are giving away free flags, coffee, dates and henna applications – and most are extending their opening hours, too.
To commemorate its 31st anniversary, the Dubai International Rally is taking place on National Day weekend, from December 3-5, starting and ending in Downtown Burj Dubai.
Fancy watching people spin 1,080° in the air (that’s three rotations!) while being towed by a speedboat? The UAE Wake Tour, (part of the Sea Dubai Watersports Festival), taking place at Barasti on National Day, will see the emirate’s best wakeboarders carve it up for the country’s top title. The action takes place from 8am-1pm on December 2. At 2pm eight top wakeboarders will compete in the Oakley Riot for a US$20,000 (Dhs73,500) prize – making it the richest wakeboarding event in the world – followed by an after-party at Barasti. It’s free to watch, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for an entry form.
• The National Day Cup at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club is one of the highlights of the horseracing season. It isn’t actually held on National Day (it’s on December 6), but attracts crowds of up to 5,000.
• Firework displays, as well as free nightly Arabic concerts, will be held in Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain and at Madinat Zayed in Al Gharbia, west of Abu Dhabi, until December 4. See abudhabitourism.ae or email email@example.com.