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Abu Dhabi shoppers looking for paraphernalia in the colours of the UAE flag ahead of Flag Day celebrations tomorrow. Image Credit: Samihah Zaman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Paraphernalia in the distinctive colours of the UAE flag are flying off store shelves across the UAE as Emiratis and expats alike prepare to celebrate UAE Flag Day.

Residents are stocking up on outfits, decoratives, banners and mini flags as they look forward to honour the UAE emblem. This year’s celebration is especially significant, coming less than a month before the country’s golden jubilee.

“I am looking forward to Flag Day celebrations at my school tomorrow, and have come out with my mother and uncle to get myself a t-shirt in the UAE colours,” Ayaan Ahmed Khan, a second-grader, excitedly told Gulf News.

Shops across Abu Dhabi are doing brisk sales of products in the colours of the UAE Flag. Image Credit: Samihah Zaman/Gulf News

Khan and his family were among dozens of shoppers out at Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, where shops and kiosks were alight with items in the flag colours of red, green, white and black.

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Ayaan Ahmed Khan with Hamza. Image Credit: Samihah Zaman/Gulf News

Special celebration

Last month, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, called upon residents, organisations and government offices to mark the occasion by hoisting the flag at 11am on November 3.

“Brothers and sisters, the UAE will celebrate the 50th year Flag Day on November 3. We call on our citizens, organisations and ministries to hoist the flag simultaneously on November 3 at 11am. This symbolises the state, sovereignty and unity of the past 50 years and shall remain with us for the next 50 years to establish belonging, loyalty and love to the UAE soil,” Sheikh Mohammed had tweeted.

Following the flag-raising ceremony tomorrow, residents will join one another in a rendition of the UAE national anthem.

The UAE flag was designed as part of a nationwide contest by Emirati diplomat, Abdullah Al Maainah, when he was just 19 years old. He has earlier said that the four colours each have their own significance as part of the flag: red symbolises courage, green stands for hope, white for peace and honesty, and black for solidarity and strength.

Excited residents

“My son was in remote learning last November, so he is especially excited this year. In fact, he loves the UAE and everything about it. For instance, he adores mandi just as much as he loves biryani,” said Khan’s mother, Atiqa.

Mohammad Ali Al Mansoori, an Emirati businessman, was also looking for dresses for his two youngest children.

“Our country is our life, and we will celebrate its flag with our heart. We love our leaders, and all that our nation has given us. On Flag Day, we affirm our loyalty to the UAE, and also send our regards to all our expatriate brothers and sisters who are celebrating with us. The UAE is a land of peace and we want to see this peace and tolerance everywhere,” Al Mansoori said.

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Mohammad Ali Al Mansoori shopping for dresses for his children. Image Credit: Samihah Zaman/Gulf News

UAE values

It is this sense of tolerance and diversity that sets the UAE apart to its many expat residents.

“We moved to the UAE seven years ago, and have felt completely at home ever since. People here are ever so warm, and the UAE’s safety and diversity distinguishes it from [many a developed nation]. What I also love, and celebrate during every UAE festival, is the appreciation for family values that is a hallmark of the UAE,” Liban Abdi, a 35-year-old Canadian, told Gulf News.

Abdi was purchasing outfits in the colours of the UAE flag for his two school-going daughters.

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Liban Abdi purchasing outfits in the colours of the UAE flag for his two school-going daughters. Image Credit: Samihah Zaman/Gulf News

“We love it here, and wish the UAE much more success, prosperity and growth,” he said.

Flag rules

The UAE mandates firm respect for its flag, and penalises its abuse. According to Article 176 of the UAE Penal Code, “anyone who publicly insults the President, flag or the national emblem of the State, shall be punished by detention”.

Article 3 of Federal Law No 2 for 1971 also says that whoever uses the flag inappropriately will face a jail sentence of up to six months, a fine, or both, “as the country’s flag should be treated with dignity and respect, and should not be insulted, and not raised below any other flag or banner”.

The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) has since then set standards for flag use, including mandating that organisations and residents flying the emblem check on its condition every 45 days.

Growing demand

As more people make their Flag Day purchases, store personnel said they do not expect demand for the red-green-white-black items to die down anytime soon.

“They have been popular throughout 2021, as people celebrate the UAE, and we expect even more interest ahead of December 2,” said Mohammad Hanif, a salesperson at Zamzam Gallery, an Abu Dhabi store.

“Emirati clients have definitely been our biggest clients, but expat shoppers are just as enthusiastic when it comes to buying items that celebrate the UAE,” said Irfad Ali, a salesperson at New Gallery.