Expats UAE National Anthem
Clockwise, from top left: Michael Dalde, 29; Karim Ebrahim, 30; Joey Francis, 39; and Hakou Bouchhagoura, 24. Image Credit: Faisal Masudi / Gulf News

Dubai: Schoolchildren know it by heart, but not many grown-up expats in the UAE.

As the UAE prepares to celebrate its 48th National Day on Monday, Gulf News asked expats if they know the words or the tune of the UAE National Anthem.

Few replied in affirmative and those who knew it were mainly Arab expats. This despite the anthem being played at the start of many official, commercial and social events, as well as on local TV and radio.

The UAE, which has a population of around 10 million people, is home to some 200 nationalities, making it one of the world’s most diverse communities.

It also has one of the highest number of international schools, offering around 17 different curricula. All children in public and private schools (which together teach over one million students) learn the UAE anthem at school.

‘We need more exposure’

Filipino expat Joey Francis, 39, who works in the healthcare sector, said, “I’ve been living in Dubai for nine years, but unfortunately I can’t say I know the anthem. I think expats need to have more exposure to it. My five-year-old son knows it though, he sings it in school.”

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Arshad P., a 23-year-old Indian expat who works in the banking sector, also said he doesn’t know the lyrics or music of the anthem. He arrived in the UAE six months ago.

The same answer came from another banking sector professional, Michael Dalde, 29, from the Philippines, who has been in the UAE for five years.

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Algerian expat Hakou Bouchhagoura, 24, said he does not recall the tune but “I will know it by the words when I hear it”.

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He has been in Dubai for two years and works in sales.

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Another expat, 30-year-old Egyptian national Karim Ebrahim, who has been here for four years, said he was somewhat familiar with the anthem, having heard it on social media and TV.

“I only know the anthem of my own country fully. I know the UAE anthem somewhat because the UAE is close to my heart,” said Ebrahim, who works in the retail sector.

Learnt at school

Lebanese national Mario Abu Diwan, 36, however, told Gulf News he knew the UAE anthem by heart.

He had good reason to.

“I grew up in the UAE and learned the anthem at my school, Al Mawakeb. Those who haven’t been to school here or have not been here for long, or are not Arab-speaking, may not know it,” said Diwan, who also works in retail.