Founders, fireworks and fun – here’s how the holiday started and how it’s going.
UAE Union Day is one of the biggest celebrations in the country. The day is known as Al Yawm Al Watani in Arabic, and the official theme is Spirit of the Union. Festivities take place across the country with special events including world-class concerts, art exhibitions and dazzling firework displays. So, if you want to get your patriotism on, here’s what you need to know.
What is UAE Union Day?
UAE Union Day marks the unification of the states into one nation in 1971. The emirates include Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Dubai, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. The first President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan bought the emirates together at Union House, which is now known as the Etihad Museum. A year later, Ras Al Khaimah joined.
When did UAE Union Day start?
Observed annually on 2 December, this year marks the 52nd UAE Union Day under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Designated as a public holiday, the celebration often extends over two days.
Given this year’s Saturday occurrence, residents and citizens will enjoy a prolonged weekend, encompassing 2 December and the subsequent Sunday, 3 December, along with the preceding Friday, 1 December which marks Commemoration Day.
What happens on UAE Union Day?
On UAE Union Day 2023 and the long weekend, the country is filled with festivities. There are plenty of cultural activities and offers across cafés, restaurants and hotels. Best of all, there are blockbuster fireworks displays.
It’s a good time to brush up on the UAE’s national anthem, Ishy Bilady, which translates to Long Live My Nation. Composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab with lyrics by Dr Aref Al Sheikh, the opening lines include: “Live my country, the unity of our Emirates lives, you have lived for a nation, whose religion is Islam and guide is Quran”. Fun fact: the lyrics were written in three days.
During this celebratory time, the country transforms with the vibrant hues of the UAE national flag. Featuring four colours, the white in the flag symbolises peace, red symbolises bravery, green symbolises prosperity and agriculture, and black symbolises solidarity.
Expats are encouraged to take part in the celebrations, and waving the nation’s flag is encouraged.
Happy UAE Union Day.