From top left clockwise: Abdullah Yousuf Al Nasser, Muna Eisa Al Gurg, Deema Al Shamsi, Maha Maisari, Jamal Al Jasmi and Omar L.K. Sharif Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Beyond the expected forms of celebrations taking place on Friday as part of the UAE’s 46th National Day, Emiratis across the country are rejoicing the true spirit of the nation’s development and wise leadership.

The last long weekend of the year is hosting a line-up of activities across malls, restaurants and public places, with several National Day concerts set to take place in Dubai.

However, away from public festivities, Gulf News spoke with several Emiratis about what the National Day actually means to them.

Abdullah Yousuf Al Nasser, CEO and founder of Araa Group Advocates and Legal Consultant

The National Day is an opportunity for him to express his appreciation to the country he was born and raised in. “Every year, I along with my family celebrate the National Day and we are honoured and proud of our country and leaders who are making our lifestyle brilliant and better day by day,” he said.

The lawyer highlighted that the country’s law system and politics have “made the UAE a land of opportunities for Emiratis and expats” in terms of investment, education, careers and business.

“As an Emirati lawyer, I advise and give back to my country as much support as I can,” he said.

Omar L.K. Sharif, owner of a gaming store

He referred to National Day as a day that signifies several important milestones, and good leadership.

“National Day means a lot of things — it’s the day we Emiratis were united, leaving old clan rivalry with the guidance of the late Shaikh Zayed (Bin Sultan Al Nahyan), who showed us a bright future out of love for the people,” said Sharif.

The owner of Geeky Lizard, a gaming store in Dubai, said he will be holding several celebrations at his store as well as a moment of silence for the martyrs.

Deema Al Shamsi, public relations executive at the Executive Office in Ajman

The occasion represents “46 years of independence, achievements and the resilience of our nation”.

“To the UAE, National Day signifies its dignified unity that is carried on by the current leaders from our founding fathers who turned the desert into the cosmopolitan country that we live in peace (today),” she said.

Al Shamsi pointed out that during the long weekend, she will be enjoying the celebrations in different emirates with family and friends.

Muna Eisa Al Gurg, businesswoman and a proud Emirati

“To me, National Day means freedom for people to express themselves — to use that freedom to improve, learn, and experience everyday living. As a woman, I feel empowered to know that my country has one of the highest number of women in leadership positions across the region.

“It’s also a sense of individuality that empowers us to speak our minds and free ourselves from ignorance. The UAE is a nation that has always welcomed people from all over the world, a nation that thrives on individuals pursuing their dreams.

“This day is a reminder to live one’s life to the fullest. It’s to enjoy and do your best every single day. It’s about standing bold and strong. As an art collector, I’m proud we’re home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi alongside dozens of independent galleries in Dubai’s Al Serkal Avenue, facilitating expression and encouraging dialogue.

“For me, National Day is a reminder to pursue a life of peaceful endeavours while being responsible for what we do. When a nation comprising 200 nationalities allows entrepreneurs, artists, teachers and health-care professionals to peacefully coexist and thrive, it’s that moment I’m proud to say I’m an Emirati.”

Jamal Al Jasmi, general manager, Emirates Institute for Banking & Financial Studies (EIBFS)

“On behalf of my colleagues and students of the Emirates Institute for Banking & Financial Studies, I wish all our countrymen and women as well as expatriates a very happy 46th National Day. It’s a day when we celebrate the birth of our vibrant and multicultural nation and take pride and reflect on the significant progress we have made over the last few decades.

“Inspired by the Father of Our Nation, Shaikh Zayed, and his legacy that has guided our leaders and policymakers, National Day is also an occasion when we express our gratitude to everyone who has contributed to make our nation great. As we look to the future, we feel confident that the foundational values of our country — namely tolerance, peace, loyalty, love for all human beings and our commitment to excellence and achieving the best in our pursuits — will see the UAE reach greater heights and continue to be admired by people around the world.”

Maha Maisari, head of Corporate Governance, Noor Bank

“I am very proud to celebrate the 46th National Day. Our country has made extraordinary strides since our humble beginnings, becoming a role model for the wider region. Much of this advancement is due to our wise leadership and it is befitting that the next year will honour the legacy of Shaikh Zayed, whose values including respect, determination and loyalty, significantly influenced the nation into becoming what it is today. As an Emirati, I am particularly proud to be contributing to the growth of the country in the banking and financial sector, which is a major pillar of our economy.”