ABU DHABI // For Mohammed Al Dhaheri, the Spirit of the Union Parade of decorated cars was a chance to reflect on his country's roots, literally. He adorned his car with a tree draped with crystals and images of Emirati leaders, with Sheikh Zayed, the founding president, at the base.
"They are all in one tree," explained the 24-year-old from Abu Dhabi, who spent two weeks on the design. "Seven emirates in one tree. One nationality."
Hundreds of drivers participated in the gathering on Yas Island yesterday, covering their cars with rhinestones, ribbons, flowers, feathers and flags to show their pride in today's 40th anniversary.
"Because we love our country," said Hussain Al Marzouqi, from Abu Dhabi. "You don't know how much we are loving our country."
Mariam Gama, 31, from Abu Dhabi, brought her children to show them where they come from.
"We try to let them feel, what is the UAE?" she said. "What does this mean for our life?"
Most of the drivers were Emirati. But for Ahmed Issa, a Pakistani shopkeeper, it was a chance to show his adopted home his gratitude.
He spent six days and Dh5,700 to make his car a patriotic vision, spray-painting a carpet to cover the bonnet and using wire to attach coloured lights and baubles.
"It's not our country, but we are happy here for everything," said Mr Issa, a UAE resident for nearly 25 years. "Safety, security, everything."
As the sun set, Mr Issa turned on his lights and his creation began to glow.