x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Emiratis and expats rally to UAE flag

Patriots across the country today will raise the nation's flag high over homes, businesses and government buildings in honour of Flag Day.

A child waves a UAE flag during the car parade in celebration of the 38th anniversary of Federation in Umm Al Quwain. Paulo Vecina / The National
A child waves a UAE flag during the car parade in celebration of the 38th anniversary of Federation in Umm Al Quwain. Paulo Vecina / The National

Patriots across the country will raise the nation’s flag high over homes, businesses and government buildings on Wednesday in honour of Flag Day.

Emiratis, expatriates, government agencies, schools and private businesses are encouraged to display the UAE flag at noon as a show of national unity.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced the Flag Day campaign earlier this week, urging the public to express their patriotism.

Flag Day honours the anniversary of the accession of Sheikh Khalifa as President.

Its official date was November 3, but November 6 is the day the nation has been asked to show its true colours – red, green, white and black – and pride by displaying the UAE national flag in unison.

Emirati Sara Al Qubaisi, 32, praised the initiative and was looking forward to joining in by draping a large flag over the roof of her Abu Dhabi home.

“For me, it’s like sharing love and showing to the whole world that we are all one,” Mrs Al Qubaisi said.

Youssef Alkndi, 18, agreed. When the student heard of plans for the campaign, he found his UAE flag in the trunk of his car and moved it to the back seat for all to see. He said he is also going to encourage his family to hoist a flag outside their front door.

“I feel proud,” said Mr Alkndi. “When I see my flag in the embassy building, for example, I feel proud that I am entering this building that carries our flag.”

The flag was designed by 19-year-old Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, of Abu Dhabi, who won a flag design contest he saw in Al Ittihad newspaper in 1971. His design was chosen over 1,030 other entries.

Mr Al Maainah said the colours he chose for the flag came from a verse from a Safieddine Al Hila poem that reads: “White our deeds, green our surroundings … black our battles, red our swords.”

In an interview with The National in 2011, Mr Al Maainah acknowledged the flag’s design has been interpreted many different ways over the years. But, to him, the black has come to represent the oil that sustains the country, the green for fertility and the nation’s gardens, while the white and red signified unity of the emirates.

The flag was flown for the first time on December 2, 1971 when the emirates were unified.

“I can’t help but smile whenever I see the flag,” Mr Al Maainah said. “I feel a great honour and pride each time I am photographed with it.”

That same feeling of honour and pride was expressed by hundreds of people on social media soon after Sheikh Mohammed issued his call for Flag Day supporters. Twitter and Instagram media were abuzz with tweets and photos of the UAE flag draped over buildings, flying from high poles and painted on young faces.

Maneh Alahbabi, 22, of Dubai, was one of the many who shared several photos of the UAE flag with the world through her twitter account, @M_Alahbabi, using the hashtag #UAE_flagday. To her, the flag symbolises “fielty, glorification, peace and love”.

“It’s our flag, it’s our nation, we have to respect it, we have to unify it and take it to its peak,” Ms Alahbabi said.

rpennington@thenational.ae