Dubai: Parents of babies born on Friday will not have to worry about throwing expensive birthday bashes or feeding a crowd of children every year as the birthdays of those born on February 29 come only once every four years.

Twenty-three babies were born across the emirates yesterday and doctors said the number could rise by late night as some mothers were still in labour.

The first baby girl in Dubai, Raweya Al Bardan, an Emirati, was born at 4.56am at Dubai Hospital. The second, Anouka Noor from France, was born at 10.59am at Welcare Hospital, while the only boy, from UK, was born at 3.26pm at Dubai Hospital.

Bright side

Most of the parents Gulf News met with did not attach much significance to the date, but for Olivier and Emma Laborie, Anouka's parents, the date was special but confusing.

In Abu Dhabi 17 babies were born - 10 girls and seven boys at the Corniche Hospital.

In Fujairah three babies were born, including an Indian boy, Saeed Tajamul, at Fujairah Maternity Hospital. The names and nationalities of the other two were not known.

Anouka's mother said she tried her best not to have the little girl on February 29 because she did not want Anouka to be deprived of her birthday for three straight years.

"I tried to stop the contractions. I told myself, I have to wait till March 1, but then you cannot control everything," she said.

"I told her if you don't want to have the baby today, you're going to have to hold it in," Olivier piped in, laughing.

Emma and her husband finally settled on having a birthday for the girl a few minutes before midnight on February 28. She is now looking at the bright side of having a leap year baby. "There is a French star, who was born on February 29. Maybe Anouka will be a star like her too."

As for Raweya, her mother has already decided that her birthday party on non-leap years will be on the same day as her elder sister's. "She will not feel left out and just to show we have not forgotten her birthday, we will throw her a big party every four years," she said.

She did not attach much significance to the date and did not try to delay or force an early labour.

"The baby is special, not the date," she added.

Abdul Baset Mohammad, the father of the boy born yesterday, agreed.

"It is not in my culture to celebrate birthdays. I thank God he is born healthy and my wife is healthy. Plus today is Friday, which is special," he said.

- With inputs by Dina El Shammaa in Abu Dhabi and Fuad Ali in Fujairah