It's reunion time for most families in the UAE, as people across the country are celebrating the country's long National Day weekend with great enthusiasm.

Despite specific road closures, both residents and expatriates have been actively navigating the streets, flocking to bustling parks, crowded malls, and fully booked restaurants and hotels.

The lively celebrations and activities kicked off on Saturday, signalling the start of a three-day weekend filled with laser displays, fireworks, and substantial discounts at retail stores, as well as at restaurants.

Expats were spotted in their festive attire, rejoicing in the extended weekend, which was initially anticipated to be a two-day break only.

Explaining what the family traditionally does on this day, UAE National Malak Tariq Alfarsi said, “My daughter has been busy with her (rhythmic) gymnastics training all this while but yesterday I gave her the day off and we all went to Al Ain. For us, every national day is about spending time with family because otherwise we never get to do that.”

“We genuinely are not able to spend time with each other as a family due to different commitments. So, we always try and do something heritage-related activity. Rather than me cooking at home, we go to our favourite Emirati restaurant. We annually go to this heritage restaurant where one gets to see all things from an erstwhile era.”

She highlights this tradition not only allows them to spend time together but also exposes her children to historical artifacts.

“This includes items like the old-fashioned telephone where you have to dial by inserting your finger into the small, numbered circles. My children have never seen that kind of an old telephone or a transistor radio, the olden-day things that we used to use in our houses. Also, the restaurant looks like a fort. So, it’s all very vintage.”

She explains this allows her children to have a unique experience, creating lasting memories rooted in heritage and nostalgia.

“If there is a Masirah which is like a parade or heritage site we go visit that. We like to do that rather than go to crowded places and stay in queues for hours together to catch the fireworks. “

Families get to enjoy a complete lineup of events in Dubai's calendar

Similarly, Moldavian resident in Dubai, Inga Steyler said, “We've had a fantastic time lately, almost like a holiday. Finally, on Friday, I had the chance to venture out for some Christmas shopping. First, we visited the Mall of the Emirates (MoE) and then ended up at Springs Souk, picking out more gifts.”

Saturday was dedicated to the Emirates Dubai 7s, a full day of excitement for the family.

“Given my husband’s background in rugby, he also tried his hand at Pedal Tennis, a new addition this year. The kids had a blast with the play areas and other entertainment options available. It was quite a lengthy day, so today, we're taking things slow.”

Monday’s plan for them involves a desert drive with a group of friends to Al Qudra.

“Each person is supposed to bring a national dish, so I'm getting prepared for that.”

Downtime with staycations

Meanwhile, some families choose to relax by staying at luxurious hotels that provide a wide range of enjoyable activities to keep individuals of all ages occupied.

American expat in the UAE, Natalia Miranda said, “When temperatures drop, and during any look weekend, we often opt for staycations. Even while working from our hotel room, we make the most of Dubai’s splendid weather.”

Currently enjoying a stay at Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi this weekend, Natalia is balancing remote work for COP 28 while she soaks in the wonderful weather and downtime with family.

“We’ve been relaxing on the beach, and my seven-year-old son has been happily frolicking in and out of the water. Mina Seyahi’s Jungle Bay Waterpark keeps him thoroughly entertained, while the kids' club offers a range of activities and daily beach games. Moreover, due to several main roads being inaccessible, we're fully committed to exploring this area.”

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