At exactly 11am on November 3, the UAE flag will flutter atop government and private buildings across the Emirates. The country’s citizens and expats will respond as one to the call from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to celebrate the national symbol on Flag Day.
So, what exactly is Flag Day and how can you be part of it?
The day is marked annually on November 3 to consolidate national identity and enhance unity. The day was first marked in 2013 based on Sheikh Mohammed’s directives. The day marks the accession anniversary of the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“The UAE Flag Day is an important occasion where Emiratis and residents pay tribute to the founding fathers and celebrate the achievements of the country’s wise leadership,” said a government official in Abu Dhabi.
The flags that unfurl as the clock strikes 11 give citizens and expats the opportunity to reflect on what the UAE means to them.
In honour of the special occasion, last year, 4,500 UAE flags were arranged at Dubai’s Kite Beach to create the portraits of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Understand your flag
The flag was designed by Emirati Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah. It was chosen during a national competition to design the flag. Over 1,030 designs were submitted for the competition, with six being shortlisted before the final flag was chosen.
It was first hoisted on December 2, 1971, after the country’s formation by the union of the seven emirates.
Socially distanced celebrations
This year’s celebrations will be hosted in socially distanced settings as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19. Schools will host events virtually or on campus with very few students in attendance.
Salman Khan, deputy principal of Islamia English School in Abu Dhabi, said teachers have already prepared the students and the Flag Day activities will be held virtually.
“Teachers will be delivering speeches in Arabic, English and Urdu to all students about the significance of the nation’s Flag Day,” he said.
“The primary section will make flags and colour them. All students will sing the national anthem. We will be hoisting the flag in the school at exactly 11am. But students and teachers will be watching the event online.”
Anna Pagdiwalla, principal of Mayoor School in Abu Dhabi, said only 20 students will be in attendance as the flag is unfurled at 11am. “The students will sing the national anthem to mark the day,” she said.