The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence is a focus for Dubai's seafront celebrations.
Spectators are gathering to watch heritage and entertainment events being staged by the Community Development Authority that will continue until 10pm.
"We have a traditional area with henna artists, a falconer, a calligrapher and traditional Arabic food with samples for everybody," said Megan Pattinson, one of the organisers.
"The Russian social club is coming down to do some gymnastics and the Indian club will be doing some Bollywood performances for us.
"Today's events are to give thanks to the UAE for everything they do for us and to invite all the communities together to be as one."
There is a kids' area with a bouncy castle, candy floss, face painting and balloon bending.
Among the many enjoying the sunshine at JBR is lifelong UAE resident Abdulrahman Saqr, a 37-year-old father-of-two wearing a scarf in the UAE colours. "It's the 40th National Day but Emiratis should be proud every National Day of their achievements," he said.
A particularly popular feature is a giant billboard where people can write messages of congratulations. A typical entry says "Happy 40th National Day! You can't be proud enough!" and is signed "Pinar from Turkey".