x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

A day of pride - and celebrations

Seven emirates will celebrate the day the UAE formed with a diverse spread of events and entertainments, and fireworks all round.

It will be the party of a nation's lifetime as citizens and residents gather across the country today to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the UAE's founding.

The milestone will be marked with a host of events, big and small, to ensure a National Day to remember.

The crowds and communities will be remembering the momentous events of December 2, 1971.

On that day the leaders of a number of individual Gulf states gathered at Union House in Dubai and signed a provisional constitution that fused them together to create the United Arab Emirates.

There will be a major focus on Zayed Sport City Stadium in the capital, where the official ceremony for the 40th anniversary celebrations will be held.

The UAE's leaders will gather with visiting heads of state and tens of thousands of citizens and residents for a programme of events that will start with a military parade at 5pm and end with a spectacular fireworks display.

On a more local scale, there will be a range of activities in public parks, schools and university campuses, shopping centres, corniches and hotels.

The unity theme will be emphasised in two events involving the whole country. At Bab Al Shams desert resort in Dubai this afternoon a group of weary cyclists is due to cross the finishing line at the end of a demanding five-day, 400-kilometre trip around all seven emirates.

The challenge, organised by the Gulf For Good group in Dubai, is expected to raise more than Dh200,000 for Al Manar Charity School in Ajman.

Meanwhile, at 7.30pm, friends and well-wishers will be waiting to welcome dozens of women as they drive on to Ajman Corniche after visiting every emirate in a single day.

The annual Unity Drive draws attention to a significant social issue, and this year will raise awareness of the importance of recycling.

As night falls, the sky will be lit by fireworks, with displays at Al Qasba in Sharjah, Meydan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi's Corniche set to be among the highlights.

And while cars decorated in the UAE colours are a common sight on National Day, the Burj Al Arab hotel has taken it to a whole new level by decking out eight of its Rolls-Royce Phantoms in UAE flags and 40th anniversary logos.

Scores of other desirable cars will be on show at the Emirates Classic Car Festival in Emaar Boulevard, Downtown Dubai.

The nearby Dubai Fountain will perform the UAE national anthem, Long Live my Country, against the backdrop of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building and a soaring symbol of the country's achievements over the past 40 years.

The Downtown Dubai celebrations will continue tomorrow with a parade showcasing the country's culture and heritage and its vision for the future.

The Abu Dhabi Corniche will be the setting for a wide range of events that celebrate Emirati culture, including a fashion show, a cooking demonstration and a display of handicrafts.

Overhead, a giant UAE flag will be towed under a helicopter between noon and 2pm.

In Al Ain, the historic Jahili Fort will be lit up by a laser and fireworks show.

Ajman will mark the big day with events on the Corniche and at the City Centre mall, where there will be a children's carnival and an operetta will be performed.

In Dubai, 900 taxi drivers carrying the national colours will form a human flag, and the UAE Ballooning Championship will be given a National Day twist.

Activities in Fujairah will include sword championships, a scout parade, horse show, folklore shows and events for children.

Sharjah will host cultural events in the Heritage Area and there will be marches along the Corniche and a range of activities at the City Centre mall.

Al Khor Park will be the setting for Umm Al Qaiwain's National Day events, and the emirate will try to enter Guinness World Recordswith a giant photographic exhibition.

Ras Al Khaimah will host activities and events at a special traditional village.