AJMAN // Two dozen women in 15 cars took part in a female-only National Day road trip around the seven emirates yesterday.
The fifth annual Unity Drive was organised by the Women's Auto Racing Club. Each year it promotes awareness of a social issue, and this time the spotlight was on recycling.
The cars, many decorated with UAE flags and images of the country's leaders, were escorted by local police in each emirate, and on some stretches they were joined by motorcyclists. Some women took their children in cars.
The first few cars set off from the flagpole at the breakwater in Abu Dhabi about 8am for Dubai.
"The Abu Dhabi Police handed us over to the Dubai Police at the border," said Shaima Al Sayed, one of the organisers.
"We're very organised. We don't allow random joining from the street, even if it's only women, to ensure safety and security, and we abide by the traffic rules."
The main challenge was preventing men from joining their convoy - even brothers and fathers of the participants. Police officers accompanying the women on motorcycles wove among their cars to tell interlopers to leave.
"Most of them are pretty understanding," Ms Al Sayed said.
The best escort this year came from Ras Al Khaimah, which assigned a lot of patrol cars, she said.
"They just outdid themselves," Ms Al Sayed said.
In other years the event has raised awareness of breast cancer, diabetes and children with special needs.
"While the women were registering we gave them a briefing and talked a little about the cause, the importance of recycling and the dangers of not implementing it in our daily lives," said Ms Al Sayed.
From Dubai, the women headed for Sharjah, where they stopped off at Al Qasba.
The other stops were at the Enoc fuel station on the Fujairah Corniche, Safeer Mall at Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Qaiwain Cultural Centre and the Corniche at Ajman.
Sirens blared around them as they headed for their final destination. The drive ended late in the evening with the women gathering on the Corniche to sing the national anthem, Long Live My Country.
"It's the perfect finale," Ms Al Sayed said. "We have been around the seven emirates to signify the union, and the union was marked by having a flag and a national anthem.
"I get very emotional around this matter, very emotional. I've been doing this for years and still it gets to me every time."
Large crowds had gathered at the Corniche ahead of their arrival, and the streets were packed with brightly decorated cars and revellers honking their horns and shooting silly string.