x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Free to show love for nation that loves back

'I feel like it's my own birthday and the nation is growing, maturing and becoming stronger with every year.' Hanadi Mubarak Obaid expresses her pride in the UAE.

Hanadi Mubarak Obaid about the spirit of the National Day. Fatima Al Marzooqi/The National.
Hanadi Mubarak Obaid about the spirit of the National Day. Fatima Al Marzooqi/The National.

There is only one way Hanadi Mubarak Obaid feels limited in celebrating this National Day.

"We have a rule in our family - women cannot decorate their cars," says Hanadi, 25, explaining that the stickers and colours bring more attention to the drivers.

In every other way the Emirati feels free to express the love she feels for her nation on National Day.

"I feel like it's my own birthday and the nation is growing, maturing and becoming stronger with every year."

Hanadi sees National Day as an occasion when all Emiratis can express their affection for their country.

"Why do people decorate their cars, come up with creative ideas and form the biggest human flags?" she asks. "It is because there is a strong relationship between the country, Rulers and us."

Hanadi says she has met many of the leaders, who were accessible and welcoming.

"When I met them they told me to look at them as a father and that I was like a daughter to them.

"Their attitude was like they were your family and not unreachable, high Rulers.

"The Rulers are meeting everyday people where they work and live, which shows how genuinely concerned they are about their people. They want to reach us."

The rulers of countries in the region that have recently experienced troubles are a sharp contrast to those of the UAE, Hanadi says.

"I felt sorry for what happened around the Arab world but you cannot reach the government or rulers in those countries.

"I am so grateful to be in the UAE, and because of the strong bond of the society and between the Rulers and the people, this will not happen here."

Having graduated from Dubai Women's College in ebusiness management, Hanadi is a graduate trainee at a national energy company.

She feels the opportunities she has been given are available to all Emiratis.

"We have free school, medicine, open public places - we have everything here. Emiratis can build their own houses and villas. Not only does it come for free but it is also very high quality."

Hanadi says quality of life in the UAE is higher than that of 80 per cent of countries around the world.

And on National Day, she feels it is essential Emiratis represent their country's history, culture and advancements to expatriate residents.

"A lot of people think Arab ways are old ways and that nationals do not work hard," Hanadi says.

"But we have to show them we are capable and have a lot of locals who work hard for the country."

Although her car is off-limits, Hanadi intends to celebrate by decorating her family's villa, inside and out, and wear bracelets in the colours of the UAE flag.

She will drive around the country today and hopes to make it to the Northern Emirates to experience more than one celebration. "I will take my nephews with me because it is important to show them these things and build their appreciation for their country when they are kids," Hanadi says.

talsubaihi@thenational.ae