x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

What National Day means to UAE expatriates

When Emiratis think of National Day, they think of success and prosperity … but what do expatriates make of it all?

AJMAN // For most Emiratis, December 2 is a time to unite and reflect on years of success and prosperity; for contemplating a dream that came true.

But what do expatriates make of it all?

Fatimah Al Aydi from Jordan was 36 when the UAE was born. It was big news to her because some of her family were living in Abu Dhabi.

For Fatimah, it seemed a dream was finally coming true.

“When I heard the news, I felt that my heart would burst from my indescribable joy,” she said.

“It was a like a dream of what once was a reality – a united Arab world. When the Emirates united it was a dream come true.”

After Federation Fatimah, now 78, became a UAE expatriate. She now lives in Ajman with nine of her 12 children.

“I love this country. It’s my home away from home,” she said.

Norah Khalid, a Moroccan who moved to the UAE in 2000 and lives in Ajman, said National Day celebrations made her “feel like I am in my own home”.

“I love the UAE and I love every person who loves his country, his home,” Norah said.

“I love even more the fact that Emiratis are transforming their love for their country by working harder for more achievements.

“The Union is truly a fate, as the late Sheikh Zayed said, and it changed the face of history, putting the UAE among the most civilised and developed countries.”

Umm Mahmoud, a Palestinian mother of three who moved to the UAE in 2002 and lives in Sharjah, shared those sentiments.

“The UAE is a giant door that opened up in the face of all the great achievements made under the Union’s umbrella,” Umm Mahmoud said. “The UAE is the home that sheltered me and my children and in it we live a respectable life.

“The UAE is the country in which you talk to an official with a complaint and he tries to solve it, rather than dismissing you as in other countries.

“Long live the Union. May there be many more happy National Days to come.”

salamir@thenational.ae