Dubai turned into a festival city last night as thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate. Residents, many dressed in the national colours and waving UAE flags, converged on venues around the emirate to mark the country's birthday. After the Union Glory parade in Emaar Boulevard on Tuesday, the focus shifted yesterday to Dubai Creek.
There, crowds gathered for a marine carnival called Seniar. The show was a recreation of the historic "Al Gafal" - the name given to the return leg of the voyages Emirati pearling ships once embarked on. Mohamed Farook, who is from Abu Dhabi but now lives in Dubai, watched the carnival with his family. The businessman said his children had been looking forward to National Day for weeks. "They are excited about seeing the boats. There is no better time to celebrate than today. Dubai is going through a tough time but the spirit of unity is strong among all people living here," he said.
Before arriving at the Creek, the boats and yachts, decorated with national flags and carrying messages of celebration, lined Al Seef water bus station. Families and government and media representatives were then invited to board the vessels. Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, waved the boats on their way to Al Shandagha. There, more events were laid on for revellers, including music and dance routines performed by several local school and college students.
Meanwhile, celebrations were also taking place in other parts of the emirate. The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) was packed with people taking part in a Heritage Village event. The three-day gala, organised by the Dubai Tourism and the Community Development Authority, showcased the heritage and culture of the UAE. Wafi Binfadil, from Umm al Qaiwain (UAQ), and his friends were among the hundreds who flocked to JBR. Some took to the beach while others filled the restaurants that line the promenade. "This is the day the country united, so we gather and celebrate," Mr Binfadil said, as cars adorned with flags rolled by. "It is all one country; there is no difference between UAQ and Abu Dhabi or anywhere."
The Heritage Village event featured 10 traditional houses, each offering a different view of life in the UAE, from the desert to urban areas.
Shops sold handicrafts, coffee, henna and other goods. There was also a children's area. "The mood is so electric that it's a bad idea to sit at home. It's festival season and everyone wants to be a part of it," said Nadia Ibrahim, an Egyptian living in Dubai.
She was at Dubai Mall yesterday with her children, who took part in several special activities being staged there.
Further celebrations at The Walk today include a feast of traditional Emirati food cooked by 380 chefs from 38 hotels.