x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

A rolling car tradition for National Day

From tricked-out Toyotas to souped-up Nissans, colourful cars are the Emirates' annual canvas of expression.

Architecture enthusiasts in Abu Dhabi have the Guggenheim on the horizon, while fans of Paris's artistic treasures will soon have the Louvre. But as this week's rolling tributes to the nation remind all of us, the most prized form of art in the UAE may be that which just roared by.

From tricked-out Toyotas to souped-up Nissans, colourful cars are the Emirates'; annual canvas of expression.

In the run-up to yesterday's National Day, motorists from RAK to the capital's Corniche had their brushes working overtime. As one 22-year-old Emirati told The National this week, the tradition of car painting keeps getting bigger. "Last year, I only had one window decorated," Faris Ismail, 22, said. "This year I have done the whole car."

In a nation with so much imagery from abroad, it's refreshing to see the outpouring of local inspiration. Car coverings may not be the most visually stunning - spray paint and four colours go only so far. But they may well be the most authentic, spontaneous, and anticipated exhibitions of the year.

As one long-time UAE resident lamented via Twitter yesterday, it's a great shame that "the car-art we see in UAE each National Day cannot be recognised as a unique cultural concept". Perhaps it should be. Until it is, there is always next year, when car colours and coverings promise to be bigger than the last.