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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Flag Day is a time to celebrate all UAE has given us, say residents

Event marks the anniversary of Sheikh Khalifa becoming president

Hayder Al Zuhairi and his family celebrate Flag Day each year. Leslie Pableo for The National
Hayder Al Zuhairi and his family celebrate Flag Day each year. Leslie Pableo for The National

From small flags fluttering from cars to vast banners adorning skyscrapers – thousands of people are celebrating UAE National Flag Day this weekend.

Up and down the country, schools, offices, hospitals, ministries and homes are covered in red, green, white and black.

For many Emiratis and other residents the annual event is an opportunity for families to come together and pay their respects to the country they call home.

Home-cooked meals, hookahs and hours spent round the table with friends are all part of the festivities.

“It’s an honour to be able to celebrate the rich history of this country and to share its culture with my family and friends,” said British-Iraqi businessman Hayder Al Zuhairi, 44.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the family to come together and celebrate what this country is all about.

“The UAE gives us so much that is only right that we give something back.”

UAE Flag Day was celebrated this year on Thursday.

It commemorates the anniversary of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed becoming president of the country in 2004.

Mr Al Zuhairi, who moved to the UAE with his family from Guildford in the UK in 1982, now runs his own event company and a catering firm in the Emirates.

On Thursday the father of two had draped his home in The Villa project in Dubai with UAE flags, the colours of which symbolise courage, honesty, love and hope.

“I don’t mind spending a couple of thousand dirhams to get quality flags and display them the way they should be,” he said.

“I grew up here and many of my friends are from here. Flag Day is important to us because it allows us to show respect to this country by sharing its culture and national celebrations.

“The UAE is one of the few countries where everybody lives in tolerance of everyone else and it is due in no small part to special occasions like flag day.”

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Another person celebrating this weekend is Indian national Andaleeb Mannan, 48.

Ms Mannan, who lives on Airport Road, Abu Dhabi, said she had decked out her apartment with 20 UAE flags to mark the day. “I have made my home in this country and owe everything to the UAE,” she said.

“It comes from the bottom of my heart. There is such emotion attached to my connection to this country.”

Ms Mannan, a manager at Indian Palace Restaurants, moved to the Emirates 30 years ago from Jaipur in India.

She is mother to Abdul Muqeet, 17, otherwise known as The Paper Bag Boy. The teenager, who spoke at a global children’s summit in America at the age of 11, is famous for being an environmental crusader.

She said her son turned up for class at Abu Dhabi Indian School draped in a scarf with the UAE’s national colours.

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