Thousands enjoyed a parade in the afternoon and fireworks in the evening as part of the capital's Corniche festivities, after a military parade early in the afternoon along the beach.
Fireworks, fun and parades mark Abu Dhabi celebrations of National Day
ABU DHABI // A spectacular fireworks display capped National Day celebrations on the Corniche on Sunday.
After a military parade early in the afternoon along the beach, thousands of visitors made their way to other festivities.
Traffic along the Corniche started slowing early in the afternoon, giving people a chance to take pictures of the elaborately decorated cars – and giving silly-string sprayers the chance to catch unsuspecting victims.
But cars were not the only means of transport decked out with the colours of the flag.
Mirakadi, 30, from Pakistan, had adorned his bicycle with dozens of flags, stickers and bright lights.
“I do this out of the love I have for this country,” said the Al Ain resident, who had travelled to Abu Dhabi to celebrate National Day.
Working on the date fields in Al Ain, the farmer had saved up to demonstrate his happiness at the joyous occasion.
“I spent Dh1,000 decorating this bike with nothing out of it for myself,” he said.
He was not the only long-term Abu Dhabi resident celebrating on the Corniche.
Jordanian Taher Salah Kasim, 61, who moved to Abu Dhabi 38 years ago, had been waiting with his wife and five children for five hours to get a front-row seat for the fireworks show.
“All of my kids have been born here and I definitely consider the UAE my home,” he said.
“When I go back to Jordan on vacation all I want to do is come back to the UAE.”
In his 38 years here he has seen National Day celebrations grow in size.
“The country has advanced unbelievably since I came in 1976, as has National Day,” he said.
“There are so many more events and people now.”
Mr Kasim said that marking National Day was a special time for him.
“I feel like any Emirati would feel on National Day,” he said. “I have to thank the leaders who are concerned for the citizens as well as the expats.”
But it was not all fun and games for everyone, with the staff of shops along the Corniche facing the busiest time of the year.
“Out of all the 34 outlets we have in the UAE this is by far the busiest during National Day,” said Yunus Kabariya, the Abu Dhabi and Al Ain area manager of Cinnabon.
He said the branch started getting busier more than two weeks ago.
“I had to bring five branch managers to this location to help during this period,” he said.
He said tensions were running high in the struggle to get a chair to watch the parades.
“Just a few minutes ago there was a fight between a customer that refused to move his child into his stroller to free up a seat when asked by another customer.”
Ahmed Ali Al Hosena, 29, made his way to the Corniche with 13 members of his family.
“I came yesterday, I’m here today and I will be here tomorrow,” said the Emirati.
“National Day is happiness for me. It’s happiness for my entire family and it’s happiness for the whole nation.”
Mr Al Hosena said it was important to mark the development of the nation.
“You see the advancement of the nation every year, so it is an occasion to mark our progress,” he said.
Attending the National Day celebrations was an annual event for the Abu Dhabi Police employee.
“It grows every year,” he said. “First it was the Emiratis mainly, then more and more expats came, now people from abroad are coming to celebrate with us.”