UMM AL QUWAIN // More than a hundred cars, adorned in the UAE’s flag colours took to the streets to celebrate National Day.
The drivers and their passengers blasted horns, played music and sang as the convoy toured the streets of Umm Al Quwain, led by a procession of police and government officials.
At 4pm the cars left from near the Umm Al Quwain coast progressing onwards into Umm Al Quwain city.
It was a truly international affair and a sizable number of participants were not from the UAE at all, but from Bangladesh.
Members from the Bangladesh Social and Cultural Centre of Umm Al Quwain were among those taking part in the celebrations.
Since 1992, the centre has been a hub for the emirate’s Bangladeshi community, which numbers about 50,000 people.
“We have joined in with the car rally here in Umm Al Quwain on National Day because we live here together with brotherly UAE people and we are very happy,” said president of the centre, Abdul Hye Chownhury.
“We want to express our heart and good relationship with the local people. We are very comfortable and secure here in Umm Al Quwain. This is our second home,” he said.
“Every year we do this to mark National Day. We also hold events in cooperation with the local government. At our cultural centre we have our own celebrations for National Day too, with traditional dancing and events,” said Abdul Khayer, cultural secretary of the centre.
“National Day is very special for us. We get all things from this country and we love National Day. A lot of people come and join this celebration,” he said.
The tour ended at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, where National Day celebrations have been going on since November 27.
There was an unlikely reception at the ministry from the Dubai-based bagpipe band, The Highlanders.
“We travel to all the emirates every year,” said William Wallace, pipe major. “It is not the sort of music people might expect and at first we didn’t know how people would react. But people seem to love us, they definitely make a connection with the music. We love them and they love us.
“When we came out here five or six years ago we thought we would be the odd one out, but this is a real cultural melting pot and it is a very rewarding experience.”
The Highlanders are originally from Northern Ireland and the group plays in competitions across the globe.
“We also have dancers with us and they prove to be the link between us and audience, especially the kids, they seem to really respond to it,” Mr Wallace said.
The international nature of celebrations in UAQ was very much a defining factor of the emirate’s National Day calendar.
“It has been very good, everyone is very happy across the UAE,” said Abdullah Ali Buosaibah, manager of the UAQ Cultural Centre.
“The Ministry and our leadership has enabled us to put together all these activities and let everybody here in UAQ be happy for National Day.
“It is not only about local people, it is for everyone from across the Emirates. The UAE cares for all nationalities, we are all the same,” he said.
“I feel very proud, of course, when I see the small children and the adults, everyone comes here to celebrate here in the cultural centre.”
The events at the ministry lasted well into the evening with arts and craft activities for children as well as performances of traditional dancing and music.