NAT Zainab Dakik
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Dubai: For most expatriates, National Day is a time to express appreciation for all the opportunities the UAE has offered them.

It is also a chance to join Emiratis in the celebration of unity and togetherness.

Whether they are students, who are yet to embark on their careers, or professionals and others who have established themselves in the country over the years, the UAE for expats living here is a “land of opportunity.”

As the country celebrates its 47th National Day, which marks the federal unification of the seven emirates that together form the hugely successful UAE, Gulf News speaks to expats about the significance of the occasion and their plans for the four-day long weekend.

Having lived here for the last eight years, Wedad Abdul Hadi, a Palestinian mother of two, says she owes a lot to this great nation for helping her develop her career and start a married life.

“Every December 2nd, we feel the unity across the whole country. This country has grown to be a leading country around the world and it motivates me to work harder and achieve more because everything is possible here,” said Abdul Hadi, marketing director at Comic Design House.

With the weekend approaching and a host of activities being lined-up across malls, restaurants and public places, Abdul Hadi said she is excited to join the celebrations with the locals.

“We feel a sense of pride, joy and belonging when we celebrate with Emiratis the unity and uniqueness of this country.”

Every year, Abdul Hadi dresses up her little boy Noor in Kandora and takes him to places where the celebrations are being hosted.

“We usually sit with locals, who make Emirati food, and enjoy the fireworks. This year we plan to do the same.”

Similarly, for Zainab Dakik, a 22-year-old Lebanese student studying at the American University in Dubai (AUD), National Day makes her feel connected to others around her.

“I was always into other people’s cultures and celebrations and always enjoyed being part of their events. Ever since I came to the UAE, National Day has become a big part of me,” she said.

“It’s wonderful to see everyone in the community collectively embracing the idea of unity and connectivity on this day,” she added.

Apart from the celebrations, Dakik said, as a young aspiring student studying journalism, the country opened many opportunities for her and helped her grow and build her dreams.

“This is the place where you can build your dreams and a place with so many chances to do many things.”

On December 2nd, Dakik plans to head down to Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) to watch the fireworks and enjoy the chilly weather.

Charles Kellen, an American student also studying at AUD, said he loves seeing National Day celebrated by all nationalities living here.

“For me it means celebrating the unity of one whole country. It amazes me to see this passion and unity celebrated on December 2.”

Kellen said watching the fireworks and celebrations will be among the highlights of National Day for him.

“This year I’m planning to go to La Mer with my friends. It’s a good time of the year to spend time there and celebrate with everyone else. People here are very welcoming.”