Dubai: It’s been 51 years since our country unified under one flag, and every National Day is very special to me.
Over the years, I have spent the day based on the precedence that is etched in my mind.
The first thing I do is to thank Allah for giving me the opportunity to witness yet another day of celebration.
Last year, I distinctly remember how I had just finished my Fajr prayer when my husband Omar walked in and told me that his father Faisal was asking about whether his granddaughter Latifa was awake. I checked on her and she was still asleep, giving me just enough time to prepare myself for the day.
Family activities for UAE National Day
Every National Day, I put on my traditional thobe or Thawb.
It is a soft ankle-length robe made of transparent fabric with long sleeves and a tunic below. It is distinguished by its wide neck that is equipped with an embroidered ribbon decorated in red and white, in addition to silver threads in the upper body and sleeve area. I wear traditional Emirati gold over that.
Omar wears his Kandora and Ghutra while little Latifa, after we’re done, gets to wear a pretty dress with miniature gold accessories.
After we’re all ready, we put on the traditional Dehn Al Oud, a fragrant agarwood perfume and we burn the Oud incense. Then, we make our way downstairs to join the rest of our family in decorating the house for the celebrations.
My husband along with the men in the family put up flags and light fixtures around the house, while I join my mother-in-law Amna and sister-in-law Salama in doing up the tents, like those of our ancestors, by displaying old tools that they once used. It reminds us of how they lived in the past, which we hold dear to our hearts.
After that, the whole family gathers in the tent for a traditional Emirati breakfast.
Our breakfast is mainly prepared by the family members who know how to cook.
My sister Amna makes the Aseeda (a boiled wheat dish, like thickened porridge that can be served with either a savoury accompaniment or date syrup as a sweet), while Maryam makes the Regag (a thin and crispy bread, like a crepe), Fatima makes Balaleet (vermicelli topped with a layer of fried eggs). The most popular dish, Luqaimat (fried flour dumplings soaked in date syrup), is made by our grandmother Yadooh Naseem.
Once breakfast is over, we listen to traditional Emirati songs as the children perform traditional Emirati dances, Yolah and Razf. They perform these dances at school too.
You can see the pride and joy of these kids, as they soak in the love for the UAE, its history and traditions,
After that, we gather around our elders and listen to their stories and poetry about our great nation.
Then it’s time for some games. We engage in trivia and test each other’s knowledge of old cultural riddles and sayings. When we are done with that, it’s time for Lamb Ghouzi, a traditional rice and tender lamb preparation which we have for lunch. We teach our children the meaning of belonging in an atmosphere of joy and happiness, surrounded by all members of our family.
We then go out and celebrate with the rest of the country, taking in the beautiful decorations along the streets and watching the fireworks which have become a tradition.
Every December 2, we feel so grateful for the achievements of the UAE. It helps renew our ambitions and our resolve to follow in the footsteps of our great leaders.