x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Traditional music and dance brings RAK’s corniche alive for National Day

RAK's corniche comes alive with music and dance as Emiratis take to the sand to perform traditional rituals.

A large UAE flag being launched as Ras al Khaimah prepares to celebrate UAE's 42nd National Day. Sammy Dallal / The National
A large UAE flag being launched as Ras al Khaimah prepares to celebrate UAE's 42nd National Day. Sammy Dallal / The National

RAS AL KHAIMAH // The city’s corniche came alive with music and dance as Emiratis took to the sand to perform traditional rituals for National Day.

From drummers to yolla dancers, the corniche hosted performance after performance. Adults and children, all dressed in brightly coloured national dress, crowded the streets to get a glimpse.

Gifts such as flags and stickers were distributed to revellers, courtesy of the Ruler’s Palace.

Sulaiman Abdullah, 28, who works in Abu Dhabi for the police department, came back home to RAK to celebrate with family and friends.

“From one end of the country to the other, everyone is celebrating. It’s about being 42 and looking at where we have come compared to where we were.

“Each year that passes, we see where we are going and what challenges still face us and what we have overcome.”

He said maintaining tradition was a vital part of the celebrations and recalled the words of the late Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed.

“As Sheikh Zayed said, if we don’t have a past, we can’t have a future. Our children must see this celebration and be part of this, learn from this. Seeing how we celebrate, the singing, the dancing, it gives the kids the habits we have and keeps up our culture.”

In coastal villages such as Sh’am, Julphur and Ghalila, days-long celebrations were continuing from the weekend.

In Ghalila on Sunday night, the celebrations were bigger than ever. A feast was prepared for 250 men and children but between 400 and 500 gathered to witness traditional cultural displays including yolla dancing, singing and sword dancing.

A flag more than 600 metres long was hung last week along the coast road to mark the event, which is in its third year.

Celebrations out of town are more informal than in emirates such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai and are organised by communities guided by their elders.

Mohammed Al Shehi, 35, said: “Here we are like family. We don’t celebrate alone, we celebrate altogether. With one hand you can’t clap – you clap with two hands.”

Such traditions remain a core of the community. “These are traditions we need to teach our children,” he said.

“Here, we celebrate differently,” agreed Khalid Ali Abdullah, 24. “It’s not like other places here. Here, hundreds of families come together as one family. The children celebrate with us here which isn’t the same everywhere. Children must celebrate with us to know exactly what we’re doing so that in the future, they will know to do as we do.”

An important part of National Day is “to show off these cultural traditions”.

On Sunday night he celebrated with his village family, but on National Day itself they went to the corniche in the city to celebrate with others from across the emirate.

“This is a different celebration where everyone comes together. What we’ve done before is like our village family but this is where we are just one big family.”