For some American expats in the UAE, the celebrations began over the weekend itself. Seen above are a group of expats at a gathering in Dubai on Saturday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: The Fourth of July is here and American expats in the UAE are celebrating the spirit of community.

The red letter day commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from British rule by 13 American colonies 243 years ago in 1776.

For some American expats in the UAE, the celebrations began over the weekend itself.

As Sam Khunaizi, an American resident of Dubai, said, “Fourth of July is a celebration of America’s Independence Day. We organised an event in Dubai to foster a sense of unity among all Americans and bring the American community together in the UAE.”

Sam Khunaizi

The open-to-all event on Saturday saw the participation of Americans from diverse backgrounds, said Khunaizi.

Family-friendly event

The family-friendly event had the young and the old enjoying everything Americana, said Bilal Sabouni, another American resident of Dubai who was one of the participants. “It was a great celebration. Americans, young and old, came together to celebrate America and the independence of the United States,” said Sabouni who hails from California.

Bilal Sabouni

He said, “The food was very much American. The atmosphere was American. It was quite nicely charged. There were flags and props to put on and take pictures with. It was a great atmosphere with citizens of a nation coming together very far away from home in the spirit of unity,” said Sabouni, a UAE resident for 23 years.

Mark Vicente from New York, who has been in Dubai for almost eight years, said it was wonderful to see so many Americans of all stripes attend the event and marking their country’s Independence Day.

Mark Vicente

“We enjoyed a tasty brunch, heard from several people who expressed their joy that we are able to gather together to celebrate,” said Vicente, also a Dubai resident.

Photo ops aplenty

University student Kehkashan Anand, who was born in the US and raised in the UAE, said she was thrilled to take part in the celebration.

"It was lovely to meet fellow Americans and break bread together while sharing stories and conversations. We had set up a photo booth with lots of props so people could take home fond merories of the event with them. Some dressed up like Uncle Sam or wore Cowboy hats to create the beautiful pictures. It was so great to see kids enjoying themselves taking the pictures and relishing the yummy brunch. Back home Fourth of July is all about picnics and barbecuing. However, we added the Dubai touch by hosting it as brunch."

First time in the UAE

Elsewhere in the UAE, other American expats were also in a celebratory mood.

For Dubai resident Matthew Miller, it will be the first celebration of the Fourth of July away from home.

Matthew Miller

“I have been here for only six months,” said the 26-year-old.

He particularly recalled the popular water parade from his native place in Colarado. “Fire trucks would come down the street and spray everybody with water. People would make huge soap bubbles and soak in the fun.”

Miller said he was now excited to be in Dubai and was looking forward to having a typical American dinner with the small circle of American friends he has cultivated in the emirate.