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UAE Independence Day

by Vishal Kumar

National Day in the United Arab Emirates The National Day of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is celebrated every year on December 2. The day commemorates the formal nationalization of…

National Day in the United Arab Emirates

The National Day of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is celebrated every year on December 2. The day commemorates the formal nationalization of the UAE from the British Protectorate Pact that expired on 2 December 1971. The day is also observed as the signing of the Proclamation of Union and the subsequent, federal unification of the six sheikhdoms – Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Dubai, Fujairah, Umm al-Qaiwain, and Ajman to form the modern-day nation called UAE. The federation initially consisted of six members, but on February 1972, the UAE gained the seventh member when Ras al-Khaimah joined the federation. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became the first president of the union.

Independence Day Celebration

The National Day also known as Al-Eid Al Watani is celebrated nationwide on a grand scale to mark the occasion. It is usually a two-day holiday with December 3 also taken as an off. However, the second day for the holiday may vary depending upon what day of the week, December 2, falls on as the second holiday may come before or after December 2.

The schools of UAE celebrate the day by organizing national events and performances. It is a time when native children dress up in their ethnic kandoora and thoub and perform folkloric dances, the youlah, and arrange cultural contests.

The day epitomizes the “spirit of union” and is a day of glory for the UAE as the seven Emirates got integrated under one flag.

The Flag of the UAE

On 2 December 1971, the flag or the ensign was also adopted, which was unfurled by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan to officially announce the formation of the UAE as an independent nation. It is interesting to note that Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, a young Emirati designed the new flag after entering into a competition. His flag was selected out of 1,000 entries.

The flag shows three uniform horizontal strips of green, white, and black, respectively from top to bottom, whereas the vertical red band is adjacent to the mast. Safiul Din Al Holi, an Arabic poem, was a source of inspiration for the four colors, which are symbolic of Arabian unity. The poem is about the struggle of the people and historical combats on the land with intentions and actions that were benign (white), however the robustness of the combats were strong (black), whereas the extensive lands were green, and the warrior swords were smudged with red blood.

History on Independence Day

Before the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, the UAE was called the Trucial States, a group of sheikhdoms stretching from the Straits of Hormuz to the west along the gulf of Persia. And, for centuries it was a place of hostility as the ensued rivalry between local sheikhs on the land, whereas pirates ransacked the seas and used the shores of the state as a place of refuge. Ties of the Britain strengthened with the emirs of the Trucial States when Britain started assaulting pirates to protect its commerce with India.

Therefore, in 1820 the relations were formalized as Britain offered to protect the region on the condition that the emirs would not sign any pact with anyone other than Britain. It was also decided to settle consequent dissension through British officials. However, the subdued relationship lasted a century and a half, until 1971. As by then, the British imperial undertakings got politically exhausted and economically bankrupt.

Therefore, in 1971, Britain decided to relinquish Qatar, Bahrain, and the Trucial States. This opened for the rulers a new avenue of unity as Shaikh Zayed took the first step towards overcoming his dispute with Shaikh Rashid so as to set a substantial federation process in motion. The outcome of this federation process was the Pronouncement of Union on 2 December 1971, after which Sheikh Rashid became the first prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and Sheikh Zayed became the first president.

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