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The new installation celebrating the UAE Golden Jubilee at the Earth Plaza Image Credit: Supplied

On December 2, 2021, the Expo 2020 Dubai site will transform into a spectacular venue for UAE National Day celebrations. Declared as ‘The Year of the 50th’, this year marks the world expo celebrating the nation’s Golden Jubilee.

Visitors planning a trip to the fair for this Thursday will be spoiled for choice, as the Emirates takes centre stage in the global event. The world gets to experience traditional poetry performances, watch the horses of Dubai Police trot in a parade, and cheer as the UAE Air Force takes to the skies.

We’ve picked out highlights for you to calendar for an authentic immersion into the Emirati culture.

expo 2020 uae
March parade on UAE Flag Day at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

10.15am: UAE National Day Ceremony at Al Wasl Plaza

You can catch the official ceremony to start your day at 10.15am inside the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai, Al Wasl Plaza. Under the massive dome, the national flag will be raised followed by speeches and anthem performances by a children’s choir.

Stick around till 1pm for a poignant poetry recital that was once performed on the battlefield after a victory. A mix of colloquial Nabati and classic Arabic poetry, Al Azi rhymed verses are recited by a poet, whose chorus of men answer in powerful voices. Watch the call-and-response performance put together by 50 men from different tribes of the seven emirates.

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12.45pm: Colours of the World Parade

Ghaf Avenue, the brick path circling Al Wasl Plaza connecting all districts and parks, will come to life in ‘Colours of the World’ parade from 12.45 to 1.15pm. Make way for the horses of the Dubai Police and the UAE Ministry of Interior Marching Band.

2pm: Gravity by Dubai Police

A gravity-defying aerial performance by Dubai Police will follow the parade on Al Wasl Avenue, the path that leads visitors to Al Wasl Plaza from the Metro gate.

3.15pm: ‘Music in the Garden’ by Fatma Zahrat Al Ain

Back at Al Wasl Plaza, Emirati singer Fatma Zahrat Al Ain will await visitors with a 30-minute musical showcase. Soon after you can keep your eyes trained overhead – a flyover display by the UAE Air Force aerobatics team ‘Fursan Al Emarat’ at 4pm is going to streak the sky in green, white, black and red.

expo 2020 uae al wasl plaza
Flyover above Al Wasl Plaza on UAE Flag Day Image Credit: Supplied

5.30pm: UAE National Day Ceremony live broadcast from Hatta, UAE

Feel the excitement all the way from Dubai’s picturesque exclave Hatta, where the official Golden Jubilee celebrations will be marked. Expo’s Jubilee Stage and Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre in Al Forsan Park will broadcast the festivities live till 7pm.

7.30pm: ‘Journey of the 50’ immersive show

A grand theatrical production of over 200 performers will narrate the ‘Journey of the 50’ in Al Wasl Plaza. For 30 minutes, be prepared to get hooked on cultural stories told through the eyes of a grandmother. If you’re not in the vicinity, catch the livestream on Jubilee Stage at the same time.

8pm: National Day Fireworks show

No festivity is complete without sparkling bursts of fireworks against the black of the night sky. Come together on Al Wasl Avenue and point your camera towards the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC) at exactly 8pm for a five-minute fireworks show.

Eida Al Menhali Image Credit: Supplied

8.30pm: Eida Al Menhali concert

Before you retire for the day, spend the evening listening to Emirati singer Eida Al Menhali serenade the audience on Jubilee Stage.

Hungry? Eat at Emirati restaurants

Intersperse your celebrations with food and beverages from Emirati eateries:

  • Depresso Café: Grab your caffeine fuel at this café located in the arrival area (Sea Plaza) of the Mobility District. You can get a flat white for Dh20 and a doughnut to go with it for Dh8.
  • Alif Café: Eat at Mobility Pavilion’s own restaurant that puts organic produce sourced from UAE farms on the table. A two-course meal starts at Dh99 per person.
  • Arabian Tea House: If you’re in the Opportunity District, experience Emirati hospitality at this restaurant and café that opened its doors in 1997. Dig into traditional breakfast trays, each priced at Dh80, or satisfy your sweet tooth with ‘luqaimat’ (fried dessert served with date syrup) for Dh28.
  • The Majlis Café: In the Sustainability District, you can have your first taste of camel milk at the Majlis Al Naseem Coffee Shop.

Access to all events is open and free, all you need to do is visit Expo 2020 Dubai.