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UAE Flag Day: Complete guide to flag-raising etiquette

UAE Flag Day is marked with the flag being hoisted across all government departments and buildings

A UAE flag on your house
Image Credit: Arshad Ali
Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE Flag, a symbol of pride, loyalty and belonging for both Emiratis and expats, will be seen decorating the country in the run up to UAE Flag Day on November 3.

The annual occasion, which coincides with the anniversary of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s assumption of office as the leader of the country, is marked with the flag being hoisted across all government departments and buildings across the emirates.

All members of the UAE community, including private companies, are keen on participating in this joyous occasion. This also comes in response to a special call by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to launch a nationwide campaign to celebrate UAE Flag Day on November 3.



As the country celebrates National Flag Day, it has been advised that every organisation and individual wishing to raise the UAE flag must do so correctly.

Gulf News highlights some of the main dos and don’ts of the country’s flag-raising etiquette, as stated on the UAE Ministry of Cabinet Affairs guidebook. Any form of disrespect or abuse of the flag is deemed a criminal offence.

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According to the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, the UAE flag law states: “Any person who publicly drops, damages or in any way insults the Union flag, the flag of any member emirate in the Union on the flag of any other country as a result of disgust or contempt of the powers of the Union, the emirates or the relevant countries, shall be punished by prison for a period of no more than six months and a fine of no more than Dh1,000.”


Material of the flag

Flags that have been damaged or its colours have faded should not be raised. Hoisting the flag in a manner that does not follow the instructions provided {as per the guide] is prohibited.

Flags should be made of a durable material, preferably nylon, to withstand the country’s climate and humidity levels. The flag’s material should be able to flutter in the wind. The dyes used for the flag’s pan-Arab colours should be picked with local weather conditions in mind. The guidebook also suggests that flags be regularly changed to maintain their pristine look.

Flag and flagpole sizes

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The size of the flag varies according to where the flag is hoisted. If raised atop a building, the flag should be 1.5 metres x 3 metres in size, while the post on which it is hoisted should be between eight to 10 metres.

If hoisted in front of a building, the flag should be 1mx2m in size and the post between 10-12 metres.

Flags inside a hall or an office should also be 1mx2m, hoisted on a pole between four to six metres in a hall and 2.5 metres in an office.

Colour of the flagpole

The flagpole should be white and the rope that raises the flag should be the same colour as the flagpole. The flagpole should be still and designed to withstand strong winds.

The circular metal bit atop the flagpole should be white and must be proportionate to the size of the flagpole.

There are different precise specifications for the post which hoists the flag, depending on the government building, for example, the space available in front of the building, the size of the building and its height.

Flag placement and positioning

Flags put up on the street, such as strings of flags arcing from one side of a street to the other, should be positioned vertically with the red part on top, and the black part to the left. The same applies for large flags adorning the entrance of a building.

The UAE flag can be placed on light-posts during national holidays. The flag should be hung horizontally with the red part on top. It is forbidden for any other flag to be hung on the same street.

In front of hotels, or any buildings with multiple flagpoles, the UAE flag should be hoisted on the far left, if the total number of flagpoles is even.

If there are an odd number of flagpoles, the UAE flag is hoisted in the middle.

In higher non-governmental buildings, or buildings with multiple floors, the flag can be placed diagonally from the balcony of the floor with the post at a length of 2.4 metres and the flag size at 1.5 metres.

All ships, whether trading boats or foreign warships, are required to hoist the UAE flag when within its waters. The flag should be hoisted upright from the centre of the ship when it is sailing and from the stern of the ship when it is docked.

During a speech, the flag is placed on the left of the podium, just behind the speaker’s right. The flag should always be hung higher than the speaker’s head.

When adorning a coffin with the UAE flag, the red part should cover the top part of the coffin. The flag should also be draped in such a way to prevent it from touching the floor. After the funeral proceedings, the flag is removed, folded and handed over to the deceased’s family.

Sad occasions

On sad occasions, the UAE flag is placed at half-mast at locations including embassies, consulates, the ambassador and consul’s accommodation, the domiciles of the permanent delegations of the country to international and regional authorities and agencies overseas, if the country is officially in mourning.

In cases where the flagpole is empty, the flag should be first raised high and then pulled down slowly and placed at half-mast.

The UAE Presidential Flag

The UAE Presidential Flag, with the presidential emblem at its centre, should not be used or hoisted under any circumstances on the outside or inside of federal buildings. This is because the flag represents the president, and he is the only person who is authorised to raise it.

The colours of the UAE flag and their meaning

While the UAE’s flag is made up of the traditional pan-Arab colours, what those colours represent is important in a special way to Emiratis.

Red: Red represents hardiness, bravery, strength and courage. The vertical red band can also be interpreted as binding all the other meanings together in unity.

Green: Green represents hope, joy, optimism and love. It can also symbolise the country’s prosperity.

White: White represents peace and honesty while also symbolising the generosity and humanitarian works carried out in the UAE. White is the purest colour, and is interpreted by some to symbolise cleanliness.

Black: Contrary to popular belief, the black band does not represent oil. It stands for the defeat of enemies, and also strength of mind.

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