DUBAI // Abdullah al Kaabi took more than two hours to decorate his car for National Day. But the Emirati's efforts delighted passers-by when he showed off the results at The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence yesterday.
His display of patriotism was typical of the festive air in Dubai. At least six people asked Mr al Kaabi to take pictures of his car in less than 10 minutes.
"This happens every year," he said. "I decorate my car as much as possible as a sign of appreciation to our leaders. The UAE has changed so much over the past few decades, especially Dubai."
And he wasn't alone. Since early evening, hundreds of cars decked out with flags, photos of rulers and phrases such as "I love UAE" and "Emirati and Proud" gathered on Jumeirah Beach Road to celebrate.
Glitter and confetti covered the ground as young Emiratis stood on the side of the road greeting people and spraying party spray.
Others leaned out of car windows and sang and clapped to music and horns.
Police patrols were deployed along the road and were seen pulling cars that violated traffic rules to the side and fining them.
Emaar's Downtown Dubai development joined in the four-wheeled celebrations by hosting the Emirates Classic Car Show, which featured 100 vintage vehicles including a black 1962 Triumph TR3B convertible, a black 1960 Rolls Royce limousine and a 1967 Ford Mustang. However, it was the original Batmobile from the 1989 movie Batman that proved to be the biggest crowd pleaser.
"This show is amazing - nowhere else can you find such rare vehicles," said Frederic Pagano, a French national who works in Dubai.
Classic car collector Wael M Buheiry was proud to show off his silver 1956 Mercedes 300SL gullwing coupe and his red Jaguar 1952 XK120 roadster. He said that when it came to deciding on what cars to add to his collection, the price tag did not matter.
"The most important thing is to show their sculptured beauty," he said. "Cars from the 1950s tend to stand out."
Elsewhere along the beach walk, market stalls displayed products prepared to mark the special day. Elvan Edis, the owner of the Ottoman House stall, said demand for UAE-themed items was intense, particularly in the evenings.
"We made special National Day scarves, rings and bracelets, which were popular last year as well," Mrs Edis said.
While she looked after her booming business, Shaoshue Cao, the owner of the Hong Kong Jewellery market stall, was busy perfecting her masks in anticipation of the expected deluge of buyers.
"I have been here for three years and I know tonight is going to be very busy," Mrs Cao said.
Events took a more cultured turn in Ajman, where poetry readings, art exhibits and an operatic display were among events marking National Day. Emirati poets such as Saeed bin Ghalaita, Walid al Jassim and Ali Abdullah al Junaibi were among those who performed.
Ahmed al Kaabi, a university student in Ajman, said: "December 2 is an important day in the calendar. It is a day to remember the history of the country, celebrate its achievements and look forward to the opportunities and challenges of the future."
Most events in Sharjah were scheduled for yesterday evening, including the Sharjah Water Festival 2010 at the Al Majaz Waterfront and Khalid Lagoon. The opening ceremony featured the National Day carnival parade, with displays decorated with the nation's flags and performances by more than 50 people.
The parade was followed by a spectacular array of water-themed displays and shows staged by international teams competing for best-of-show honours. Other activities at the water festival included a theatre of physical comedy and circus arts, a diving show and extensive heritage village activities.
The Al Qasba area of Sharjah hosted one of the biggest celebrations including a big fireworks show. Painting workshops for children, which started yesterday, will continue through Saturday. There were also local dancers on display.
The emirate's Museums Department also got into the spirit, providing handicrafts exhibits, folklore dancing, Emirati foods and competitions themed around heritage.
* The National staff