Surrounded by Oman and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates. A blend of tradition and modernity, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in particular are favoured by tourists from across the world. December 2 is annually celebrated as the UAE National Day. Referred to as the Spirit of the Union, it marks the day all seven emirates joined together and became the United Arab Emirates. It is celebrated with lots of pomp and show, with the highlight being a fantastic firework display. This year, UAE National Day will be spread over five days of revelry. Read on to find the best UAE National Day offers.
UAE National Day 2020
This year, two public holidays fall one after another, making for a five day weekend to indulge in festivities.
- December 1, 2020 is Commemoration Day.
- December 2-3, 2020 is the 49th UAE National Day.
- December 4-5 (Friday-Saturday) are holidays for those that don’t work on weekends.
Considering how long the holidays are, if you plan it right, you can make the most of this long weekend and indulge in the festivities. You can either explore Abu Dhabi and Dubai and join the revelry, or head to some off-road locations like Hatta and Jebel Jais for a quiet weekend.
Why is UAE National Day celebrated?
The UAE consists of seven emirates — Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, and Ras Al Khaimah.
When the British decided to withdraw from its Trucial states in 1968, leaders Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum of Dubai decided to form a federation and invited the other emirates to join.
UAE National Day is a special day for the entire nation as it was on this day in 1971 that the United Arab Emirates was formed. The seventh and last emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the UAE in February 1972.
Tradition and festivities of UAE National Day
Typically, people dress up in the colours of the national flag and decorate their surroundings with the same. The fireworks show is an absolute must-see on this day, and people tend to celebrate with car rallies, dance shows, or even traditionally.
However, this year, things will be different due to COVID-19. The celebrations will take place virtually, and large gatherings will not be allowed. For those visiting the approved entertainment avenues, face masks and social distancing are mandatory. Moreover, every attraction that is now open to the public has stringent health measures in place to ensure the safety of visitors.
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Things to do on UAE National Day 2020
The theme of UAE National Day 2020 is “Seeds of the Union”. Featuring visuals and sculptures, it tells a story about the growth of the UAE over the last 49 years. You can watch it live on national television.
If you love shopping, head to one of the many malls spread across the emirates as they will have incredible UAE National Day offers and discounts. Burj Khalifa, which is close to Dubai Mall, will be lit up in the colours of the flag and the Dubai Fountain will have a wonderful show.
As it is inadvisable to participate in large gatherings due to the current situation, you can also take a day trip from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Hatta, Musandam, and other nearby locations and enjoy the long weekend.
If you prefer staying in and doing something within the cities, here are some attractions and experiences you can check out:
Dubai Miracle Garden
Dubai Miracle Garden features over a hundred species of flowers in the middle of the desert. The structure and decorations of the park change every year, giving you a unique experience every time. It is now open for its ninth season.
Dubai Miracle Garden tickets >
The tallest building in the world at 828 m, the Burj Khalifa is the jewel in Dubai’s skyline. Come here to admire the turqouise waters surrounding the Persian Gulf from the highest outdoor observation deck in the world.
Burj Khalifa tickets >
The world’s tallest frame, the Dubai Frame perfectly captures the past and present of the emirate. Walk through the landmark and learn about Old Dubai and the history of Dubai and head to the top to see present Dubai in all its glory.
Dubai Frame tickets >
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
One of the largest mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque must be seen to be believed. Made of marble and gold, this is called the White Pearl of the Gulf, and attracts over 5 million visitors every year.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque tickets >
Dubai Desert Safari
Whether you want to explore Dubai’s Bedouin culture, experience an adrenaline rush, or indulge in luxury, take a desert safari. Some experiences to try include une bashing, camel rides, quad biking, and sandboarding.
Dubai Desert Safari tickets >
Sprawling over 17,200,000 sq ft, Global Village Dubai is a massive project that combines the cultures of nearly 100 countries. Offering a variety of gastronomic delights, games, parades, rides, shops, and more, it is visited by nearly 5 million visitors annually.
Global Village tickets >
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Looking for an adrenaline rush? Head straight to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi for a taste of speed. With thrilling rollercoasters, 4D experiences, family-friendly rides, and culinary delights, it makes for a perfect day out with the family! Don't miss a chance to ride the world's fastest rollercoaster.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi tickets >
Dinner in the Sky
This unique culinary experience takes place 50 metres above the ground. Strap on to your seats and sit tight as you are raised on a crane, and get to enjoy a 2-course meal that is freshly prepared and served.
Dinner in the Sky tickets >
Louvre Abu Dhabi
The only other Louvre in the entire world, Louvre Abu Dhabi is filled with treasures from across the world. Spread over 64,000 sq m, it is the largest art museum in the Middle East. Prepare yourself for a day of visual delights and cultural exploration when visiting this museum.
Louvre Abu Dhabi tickets >
Indulge in a very traditional Bedouin experience — a dhow cruise. Dhows were traditional wooden boats used by fishermen in the Arabian peninsula, and today, you can ride one in the Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina to travel back in time.
Dubai Dhow Cruise tickets >
UAE National Day Deals & Offers
- Whether you go on a day trip or visit attractions in the city, ensure you wear a mask and keep it on at all times, and carry along hand sanitizer.
- As much as possible, make advance bookings as some attractions do not allow walk-in entries. Additionally, making an advance booking lets you control your itinerary so you can plan your day well.
- Ensure you check the timings of all attractions you plan to visit in advance. As the timings have changed for most of them, this will help you ensure your plan for the day doesn’t go awry.
- Wear comfortable shoes and carry a light cardigan as the UAE gets quite chilly during winter.
- Try to visit Burj Khalifa ‘At the Top’ and Dubai Frame in the later half of the day to get a magical view of the sun setting over the city.
- Make sure you check the rules and regulations of the attractions you plan to visit in advance, such as whether or not there are cloakroom services and if you are eligible for discounted tickets.