The capital is getting ready for a swell of patriotism, as we prepare for the 39th UAE National Day on December 2. This marks the date when the seven emirates were formally unified in Union House at the top of Diyafah Street, Dubai – beneath the giant UAE flag that now marks the spot. This annual event is traditionally celebrated with lights and fireworks displays across town, parties and flags absolutely everywhere – pinned to people’s chests, lining roads and across buildings. Last year, the streets streamed with cars decorated in UAE colours, their passengers either riding on the roofs or jumping out and silly-spraying anyone within reach. Sharjah unveiled the world’s biggest flag, while Fujairah formed the longest ever UAE flag across 413 cars. Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, proudly hosted the biggest fireworks display.
The best place to be on December 2 is the Corniche, where locals will be driving cars draped in UAE flags and honking their horns in celebration. Drive down (if you can bear the traffic) and hang about until the sun goes down to watch the light show put on by the Emirates Palace. The hotel is also planning National Day displays in each of the four corners of the building’s dome, including a portrait of the late, great Sheikh Zayed, stalls of cakes and dates and a traditional Bedouin tent.
The capital in numbers
The total population of Abu Dhabi
25 per cent
The percentage of nationals that make up the capital’s population
The male population
The female population
The number of people living in urban Abu Dhabi
The life expectancy for nationals
The number of registered marriages in one year