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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

UAE National Day: the facts, figures and fun bits you need to know

National Day is just around the corner. While some will use the time to travel, others will stay in the country they now call home to enjoy the holiday festivities.

Long weekends are great, and we all enjoy the extended time off, but what exactly is the significance of National Day in the UAE? And what is happening in the country to mark the occasion?

We break down the origins, the interesting facts and the best places to mark the country's 46th anniversary.

What is National Day?

National Day in the UAE is celebrated on December 2 each year. This holiday marks the day the emirates banded together at Union House (now Etihad Museum) to form the United Arab Emirates in 1971. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan was the country’s first president.

Private sector employees will have a long weekend to celebrate the UAE's 46th National Day. Charles Crowell for The National
Private sector employees will have a long weekend to celebrate the UAE's 46th National Day. Charles Crowell for The National

What are the names of the seven emirates?

Abu Dhabi … the capital of the UAE has many attractions including Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and some of the world’s best roller coasters and theme parks.

Ajman … an emirate that has many cultural attractions including the Ajman Museum.

Dubai … home to the world’s tallest tower – for now. Burj Khalifa is 828m in height, 830m to tip.

Fujairah … houses the UAE’s oldest mosque, Al Badiyah (Ottoman Mosque).

Ras Al Khaimah … an emirate boasting one of the highest peaks in the country. Jebal Jais is 1,934m above sea level and is part of a mountain range on the border of the UAE and Oman. It also is home to the Alma Retreat, perfect for a getaway.

Sharjah … Unesco designated Sharjah as the Cultural Capital of the Arab world in 1998. So attractions such as the Sharjah Arts Museum, the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation and the Eye of the Emirates Wheel are all well worth a visit.

Umm Al Quwain … the emirate where the world’s oldest pearl was discovered.

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Read more: The first cultured pearl farm in the world

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What is the UAE’s national anthem?

The UAE’s national anthem or Ishi Bilady, translated into English is Long Live my Nation. The anthem was initially composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab. In addition to the UAE’s anthem, the Egyptian singer and composer is also credited for the Tunisian and Libyan anthems too.

In 1986, Dr Aref Al Sheikh was given just three days to write the lyrics. The poet and columnist was commissioned by the Acting Minister of Education, Ahmed Humaid Al Tayyer, to write the lyrics. In an interview with The National, he recalls the process of writing the lyrics. “I kept replaying the music of the anthem over and over again, waiting for the words to come to my mind,” he said. “You can’t imagine how beautiful and amazing it feels to be part of history and to remember you had a role in the words every time you hear the national anthem sung by its citizens”.

Read the full interview here

The anthem:

Live my country, the unity of our Emirates lives

You have lived for a nation

Whose religion is Islam and guide is Quran

I made you stronger in God's name oh homeland

My country, my country, my country, my country

God has protected you from the evils of time

We have sworn to build and work

Work sincerely, work sincerely

As long as we live, we will be sincere, sincere,

The safety has lasted and the flag has lived oh our Emirates

The Symbol of Arabist

We all sacrifice for you, we will supply you with our blood

We sacrifice for you we will supply you with our blood

We sacrifice you with our souls oh homeland

Who designed the flag?

The designer of the UAE’s flag is Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah. More than a thousand entries were submitted into a competition to design the country’s flag, and after a process of elimination, it was his design that was chosen as the winning entry.

The flag was hoisted above Mushrif Palace in 1971.

How Al Maainah reacted to the news of him winning the competition

How many days off do we have?

Government offices will be closed on Thursday, November 30, and reopen on Monday, December 4 in celebration of the country’s 46th birthday. Private sector employees will have a three-day weekend, with work commencing on Sunday, December 3.

A reader shares thoughts on the 45th UAE National Day. Silvia Razgova / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi
A reader shares thoughts on the 45th UAE National Day. Silvia Razgova / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi

What can I do on National Day?

Most schools and businesses are closed for two days over the National Day period, depending on whether they belong to public or private sector. During this time, many choose to travel, but for those staying in the country, there are a whole host of festivities, activities and entertainment on offer, including concerts, parades and firework displays.

Some may choose to decorate their cars and get involved in parades. Here are some guidelines when decorating your car:

Alvaro Sanmarti / The National
Alvaro Sanmarti / The National

And here are a few suggestions for some National Day activities:

Etihad Museum

Use the weekend to learn more about the country; its history, people, food and culture by visiting this historic landmark on 2nd of December Street, Jumeirah 1, Dubai. Check the website for opening hours.

Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi

The mall has a host of exciting activities and events in the build-up to and during the National Day weekend. Some the entertainment includes mini golf, bubble soccer, and National Day-themed exhibitions for the whole family to enjoy.

South Africa, in green, will be back in Dubai to defend their Dubai Sevens Series title. The National
South Africa, in green, will be back in Dubai to defend their Dubai Sevens Series title. The National

Dubai Rugby Sevens

It’s time to put on your most festive fancy dress attire in support of your favourite team as the Dubai Sevens returns from November 30 to December 2.

Read more: Dubai Rugby Sevens 2017: All you need to know

Getaways in the UAE – check out this hideaway in Ajman

The National’s Hayley Skirka recommends a trip to Ajman. It might be the smallest emirate, but it boasts some exquisite sandy beaches and amazing wildlife. Plus, it’s less than an hour away from Dubai. The Oberoi Beach Resort recently opened, so if you’re looking for a night or two away, be sure to get your bookings in soon. If you’re feeling quite active, you can dive into the 80-metre lap pool, run on the beach track or play some golf on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.

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See more National Day activities here:

Check out the rest of our staycations list

Celebrations span arts, culture and lifestyle experiences in the UAE

Guidelines issued on car decorations for UAE National Day

Private sector employees get long weekend for UAE National Day 2017

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Dragon Mart heritage-themed village

Dragon Mart 2 will be celebrating the 46th UAE National Day with a host of activities from 28 November, including free traditional food and drinks between 5 and 10pm. Immerse yourself into the UAE culture by exploring the many Emirati handicrafts, fashion accessories and traditional clothes on show. You can also snap a selfie with the regal national bird of the UAE — the falcon.

What will you be doing for National Day 2017?

Tell us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thenational.ae/, send in a National Day photo on Instagram or tweet us @TheNationalUAE