DUBAI // The silver falcon, strong and elegant, was a piece of art - one that carried an important environmental message.
The sculpture, made from soft-drink cans, was voted the winner from 18 pieces contributed by five schools for a National Day competition hosted at Mirdif City Centre to create UAE symbols from recycled materials.
The winning school, Royal Dubai, has won 40 laptops.
The artists cut intricate feathers out of drink cans and attached them one by one to the body of the falcon, which looked like it was dressed in armour.
Can bottoms made up the falcon's eyes and curled metal was used for the talons.
"It's nice to see waste being recycled into art, especially in this country … and art that's also embracing the culture," said Jemima Hussain, 30, a South African who looked at the pieces yesterday.
Her daughter Keziah, 2, who wore a bow with the colours of the Emirati flag, said she liked the animals best. These included a desert snake, a camel and more falcons.
One bird had a body of white styrofoam blocks connected by wire and red tacks for eyes. A stout horse was covered in pieces of The National with colourful, curled strips bunched together to create a mane and tail. Both were made by Greenfield Community School.
Other students drew inspiration from Dubai landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, Emirates Towers and Atlantis, The Palm.
One of several Burj Al Arabs, also made by Royal Dubai, consisted of small water bottles with their bottoms cut out so they could be tucked horizontally into one another.
A representation of the Palm Jumeirah by Jumeirah College used rows of blue pencils for the sea.
Dhows, abras, a metro station and a taxi were also featured. A wind tower covered in newspaper had been splashed with several colours of paint.
Those who stopped to look at the art said they planned to spend the rest of their National Day having a barbecue or watching a parade.
Maryam Amr, 24, an Emirati customer service officer manning a station next to the art pieces, said she might not go out after her shift ended at 6.30pm.
The roads would probably be packed, Ms Amr said. She wore a red, green, white and black shayla provided by her employer to wear over the past 40 days.
"Every year we are celebrating more and more," she said.