We hope you’ve got the lyrics to ‘Ishy Bilady’ (the UAE National Anthem) down pat. The UAE National Day, which falls on December 2, is almost here and the country is in for another long weekend. The 52nd National Day holidays run from Friday, December 1 to Sunday, December 3, so you better gear up for an action-packed weekend of celebrations that commemorate the union of the seven emirates in 1971 to form the UAE. We’ve rounded up the best things to do around the UAE this National Day, from fireworks and parades to events and offers.
1. Go on a UAE National Day Food tour
After last year’s success, Rove Hotels and Frying Pan Adventures, the city’s leading walking food tour company, have teamed up again to create a special National Day Food tour on November 30 and December 1. We can’t think of a better way of paying homage to the UAE than hitting the bricks to discover places that serve the country’s favourite street foods.
Frying Pan Adventure’s expert guides will walk you through Old Dubai’s hidden gems that serve this delicious street food foods from India, an authentic Yemini meal, traditional Emirati regag bread, ‘claypot almond chai’, Iranian bakeries and more spots that showcase the UAE’s true wealth, it’s cultural diversity.
AED 175 per person; visit www.fryingpanadventures.com to book.
2. Celebrate National Day with afternoon tea
French patisserie Ladurée is serving a luxze National Day Afternoon Tea until December 4 with honey goat cheese tartlets, salmon bagels, and grilled vegetable tartlets. And of course, they’re accompanied by iconic Ladurée macarons with a selection of hot beverages.
AED 204; across Ladurée outlets in the UAE
3. Sample National Day-themed food at Punjab Grill for AED 52
The Michelin Guide-recognised restaurant has a special National Day menu being served on December 1, 2 and 3. You can nosh on a gourmet Chicken Tikka sampler in the colours of the UAE flag and a UAE flag-themed milk cake for AED 52 each during the National Day long weekend.
Available in Pubjab Grill outlets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi; visit their website
4. Dip into UAE Flag-themed dim sums at these Chinese restaurants
The fine-dining Chinese eatery SHI in Bluewaters Island is paying tribute to the UAE by giving their lip-smacking prawn har gau dim sum a makeover in the colours of the UAE flag on December 2.
AED50; call 04 393 9990 or visit www.shirestaurant.com
Meanwhile, Jixiang, the luxurious fine-dining food stall concept by SHI is doling out the same prawn har gau dim sums for AED 45 at their JBR Beach and Last Exit outlets. Find info here
5. Test out French food with an Emirati twist at Couqley’s
Parisian restaurant Couqley is celebrating UAE National Day with a menu of limited-edition dishes starting from AED 55 at both its JLT and Downtown Dubai branches. Between December 1 and 3 you can sample Escargots Émiratis laced with butter infused with Emirato spices, Moules Frites Sauce Tomates et Safran (saffron), and UAE National Day Pain Perdu featuring Emirati flavours of cardamom, coconut and date caramel.
Call 04 514 9339 or WhatsApp 055 491-0097
6. Savour an Arabian set menu at Bushra Dubai
The Middle Eastern restaurant at Grosvenor House is serving a set menu from December 1-5. An array of mezze like the signature hazelnut falafel, main course such as Moroccan lamb tagine and desserts like pistachio, halva ice cream, and sour cherry caramel await diners here. A personalised date-dipping station will also be present while a DJ plays upbeat Arabic tunes in the background.
AED 250 per person, from 6pm. call 04 317 6556 or visit www.bushra-dubai.com
7-8. Sweeten your Union Day celebrations with free dessert
Bombay Bungalow will be giving away a complimentary dessert of Zaffran Pista Barfi to all guests dining at their JBR outlet during National Day.
At Chutney’s, the Indian restaurant at Movenpick Hotel and Apartments in Bur Dubai, helpings of their signature gajar ka halwa will be on the house for UAE National Day.
Call 04 336 6000
9. Grab these special date doughnuts from Bread Ahead
In celebration of UAE National Day, the popular bakery from London has created special date doughnuts. These limited-edition doughnuts (AED 20 each) are available until December 7 and feature a date-infused crème patisserie filling, topped with a slice of date.
10. Take a selfie with UAE landmarks made out of cake
Ever been gobsmacked by the game show Is It Cake? Well, that’s a question you’ll be asking yourself this weekend when you view Mister Baker’s special UAE-themed cake on display at their Umm Suqeim outlet until December 3. As of the country’s oldest bakeries they’ve payed tribute to the UAE with this 52kg 3D cake that features iconic UAE landmarks such as Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Burj Khalifa, and Burj Al Arab. It’s valued at a whopping AED 13,000, in case you’re wondering. Visit www.misterbaker.com
11. See UAE’s history through a musical at Global Village
From December 1-3, you want to make a beeline for Global Village’s main stage where a grand orchestra of 24 talented musicians and live singers, dancers and actors will perform a stunning show called UAE’s Vision. This 30-minute operatic show will tell the story of the country’s evolution and significant events in its history such as the meaning of the national flag and the boom of the pearling industry.
Besides this musical extravaganza, you’ll also get to see a multitude of cultural shows across Global Village, from yola and Ayala dancers to pop-up kiosks offering henna art, photobooths where you can dress up in traditional Emirati attire and interact with falcons, the UAE’s national bird. Also, make sure you visit the UAE pavilion and the Khalifa Foundation and Hamdan Heritage Centre to collect special UAE-themed souvenirs.
Find more details about Global Village here
12. Partake in Emirati festivities at Jumeirah Golf Estates
Steep yourself in authentic Emirati culture on the lush green lawns of the Jumeirah Golf Estates on December 2. Celebrate the UAE’s 52nd National Day by gorging on delicious Emirati dishes prepared at live cooking stations, watching a spectacular Yowlah dance performance and more. Kids can enjoy leisurely camel and pony rides, face painting, bouncy castles and more. Entry is free!
From 12pm-6pm; Call 04 586 7777 or email email@example.com
13. Gallop over to this special UAE National Day Polo game
The UAE loves its horses and polo is a game widely played in keeping with the country’s equestrian history. The Al Habtoor Polo Resort and Club is hosting the annual UAE National Day Cup. The tournament’s final match takes place on December 2 and sees 5 teams such as Bin Drai, Habtoor, Mahra, Ghantoot and Ankora battle it out for the cup.
Book your seats at their website
14. Run for the country at the UAE National Day Run
Skechers is sponsoring a special UAE National Day Run at The Track, Meydan Golf on December 3. The community event is open to runners of all ages and abilities and covers three different distances – 3km, 5km, 10km and 16km. Participants will see themselves sprint or walk across cordoned-off roads area. Racers are encouraged to pin the UAE flag to their running gear or paint their face with flag colours.
Race starts at 7:30am; register here
15. Watch movies at Roxy Cinema with popcorn for AED 52
Between December 2-4, cinema-goers can enjoy Roxy Cinemas’ silver viewing experience movie ticket and a medium tub of popcorn for AED 52 in celebration of the 52nd Union Day. The offer is only available at Roxy Cinemas’ Dubai Hills Mall, City Walk and The Beach locations. Booking tickets online or via self-service kiosks and the app? Just type in the promo code ‘UNION52’. Find details here
16. Build A Sustainable UAE from LEGO bricks
The children’s theme park attraction is taking the spirit of the union quite seriously this year and is leaving no stone unturned to celebrate the 52nd UAE National Day. Legoland has a host of events planned but highlights include the UAE Scavenger Hunt, a UAE Salute Model made of made from 108,231 LEGO bricks that you can click pictures with, and a special Union Day-themed Bricks brunch at the Legoland Hotel.
Kids aged two to 12 years can also participate in constructing Lego trees, buildings, rivers and mountains as part of the theme park’s ‘Sustainability Build’ event until December 3. You and the kids can also look forward to fun activities like UAE flag cookie decoration, character dance party, flag waving, waffle making and more. Find more details here
17. The world’s largest camel and a spectacular laser show await at Riverland
The French village-themed tourist destination inside Dubai Parks and Resorts is going all out for the 52nd UAE National Day. From December 1-3, a laser show will kick off daily at 7:30pm, 8:30pm and 9:30pm. There’ll be plenty of roaming activities and entertainment around the park as well. Make sure to snap some pictures of the world’s largest LED-illuminated camel at Riverland. The 7-metre-tall structure has bagged a Guinness World Record and is a nod to the UAE’s culture and heritage, of which the camel is an integral part.
18. Contribute to the UAE’s greener future by planting trees
The Green Planet is encouraging residents young and old to develop a green thumb this UAE National Day by hosting a seed planting activity at the indoor biodome and nature park between December 1-3. Guests can also get themselves adorned with nature-themed henna art, while kids can participate in Union Day-themed colouring, painting, origami and bracelet-making sessions. Friendly animal mascots will make appearances from December 1 -3 at 11am, 12pm, 4pm and 5pm.
Nature Park Day Pass of AED 69 per person and The Green Planet Dubai Day Pass of AED 175 per person both give you access to National Day events at the park.
20. Enjoy a battery-powered drone show at Dubai Festival City
IMAGINE, the Dubai Festival City’s daily laser, lights, water and music show gets a drone upgrade for National Day. On December 2, a special battery-powered Drone Show will be held at the waterfront venue to showcase efforts made towards sustainability as part of COP28.
Shows take place at 7:30pm and 9:30pm at Festival Bay
21. Get henna tattoos done at Bluewaters Dubai
Ain Dubai’s home and a popular shopping destination has plenty planned for UAE National Day 2022. From December 1-3, the venue will be buzzing with traditional dance and music performances by Harbia band, Nadba, as well as henna art stalls where artists will adorn your hands with beautiful Arabic designs. There will also be live displays of traditional handicrafts such as basket weaving. Find details and timings here
22. Stroll around Al Seef to see cultural dances and music
The creekside dining and entertainment destination that recreates Dubai’s heritage structures and buildings is celebrating National Day from December 1 to 3. You’ll witness an Emirati percussion band, Harbia band, explore an Emirati Cultural Village and be entertained by appearances from DSS mascots Modesh and Dana. Find details here
23. Don’t miss the official Union Day show at Expo City
The breathtaking Union Day Ceremony is open to the public from December 5 to 12 at Dubai’s landmark location this year – Expo City. The historic show celebrates the official union of all seven emirates in 1971 and is marked by world-class performances, skits, music and parades. Find more details here.