x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Abu Dhabi revellers enjoy family festivities

40 years of the UAE: Parades, the world's biggest flag and the prospect of entertainment at Yas Island cheer Abu Dhabi residents.

Two Emirati women successfully maneuvering green and white balloons into a small car. A couple draped in UAE flags, a teenager sporting the national flag painted meticulously onto her fingernails, and a young man wearing a scarf complete with the faces of Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the UAE, and Sheikh Khalifa, the current ruler of the country - in the blazing sun.

It could only be the culmination of weeks of preparation for the UAE’s 40th National Day, which was celebrated by thousands of people across the seven emirates.

While the majority of events, in Abu Dhabi, took place at Zayed Sports City, people walking along the Corniche were greeted by the gigantic UAE flag being flown across the breakwater by one helicopter. The flag, the world’s largest banner, certainly lived up to its title, said 37-year-old William Moloney, who brought his wife and three young boys to witness the event.

“It’s large,” said the New Zealander, who works as an analyst in the capital. “The national celebrations have been fantastic and it is so nice to see people so proud of their achievements and looking forward to their future.”

The third time David and Margaux Dombkins have been in the country over National Day, while the flag was a wonderful spectacle, it is the way people decorate their cars that makes the holiday.

For the Australian couple, there is nothing else like it in the world.

“The parade [is our favourite]. When you see them [the people] and the cars, it is not a competition, but it is a parade.”

Seeing young children dressed in traditional clothing waving to people from their cars adds to the family feel, they said.

“It’s just fun,” added Mrs Dombkins, who had on a UAE National Day t-shirt and was wrapped in a flag.

And while they were not aware of the events taking place above their heads, Ahmed Ali, 19, and Ahmed Suhail, 17, were happy just walking across the city, taking in all the separate events.

For the two Emirati teens, who spent the remainder of their day celebrating on Yas Island, this year’s celebration held more  
importance than most.

“It is because it is the 40th,” said Mr Ali, who wore a specially-designed scarf in spite of the sun.