National Flag Day 2023: Emiratis share their thoughts on the UAE flag

To commemorate National Flag Day in the UAE, we spoke to Emiratis around the country and learned their earliest memories of the occasion


Husain Rizvi

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Published: Thu 2 Nov 2023, 6:44 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Nov 2023, 12:18 AM

The 52nd UAE National Day is in sight, but before we get to the celebrations, let's commemorate National Flag Day. While the UAE's foundation was laid all the way back in 1971, the National Flag Day concept turns 10 this year, and is marked on November 3 of every year since 2013.

For the unversed, this national campaign was launched in 2013 by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to honour the country’s past, present and future.

The day was established to honour the accession of HH Sheikh Khalifa as President of the UAE in 2004.

While the occasion isn't a public holiday, it does kickstart the National Day celebrations in the UAE, with residents beginning to put the UAE flag on display outside their homes, offices, and even shops.

Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and member of the Dubai Council, affirmed that Flag Day stands as a momentous national occasion. It is a day where hearts unite, and generations gather in shared reverence for their homeland, celebrating its flag as a symbol of national pride.

“Flag Day instils in us a sense of our national identity, reflecting our values, loyalty, and sense of belonging to our beloved homeland. It also fills us with pride to reflect on the UAE’s progress and achievements driven by our wise leadership and established by our pioneering forefathers, who dedicated their lives to securing a prosperous future for the Emirati people and all who reside on this land.”

To mark the occasion, we spoke to a few Emiratis who shared their earliest memories of Flag Day celebrations, and what the UAE flag means to them.

"November 3 of each year is a special day for all Emiratis," said Muna AlJallaf, a resident in AlGhadeer community. "I always remember how amazing our neighbourhood looks with all the flags hanging on the villas and the walls, and how creative the neighbours can get. You will always feel the pride of being an Emirati."

Maryam Almansoori, another Emirati in Dubai, said, "I remember the excitement I get when Flag Day draws near. I usually prepare my clothes (for the occasion) the day before."

"The earliest memory I have about celebrating the UAE flag day was with my family," said Dubai-based Emirati Hessa Lootah. "We were enjoying our time by celebrating Flag Day on the farm."

For many, Flag Day also meant dressing up in colours of the flag, and sharing delectables with their peers. "I was in Grade 9, we were all wearing clothes that were of the colours of the flag," recounts Meera Almazrooei, an Emirati who lives in Dubai. "We distributed sweets and most important of all, we discussed what the colour of the flag represents."


Not only houses, but schools were also decorated and many took part in decorating their respective schools and classrooms for the occasion. "Decorating my school and class with my friends before the celebration began," recalls Noora Almarzouqi, when asked of her earliest memory of celebrating Flag Day.

Colours of the UAE flag

The UAE flag is considered a symbol of nationalism, independence, and sovereignty in all places and at all times. An official website states: "The UAE flag signifies peace, security, and happiness as seen in all national, religious, official and public events related to the political, economic, social and sports fields - whether held in the UAE or abroad."

Here's an interesting piece of trivia: The UAE flag was designed by Abdulla Mohammed Al Ma’enah after he read an advertisement announcing a competition for designing the UAE flag sponsored by Al Diwan Al Amiri Abu Dhabi. About 1,030 designs participated, with only 6 short-listed from which the present-day flag was ultimately selected.

As per the official website, the designer was inspired by verses from a poem written by the poet Safi-u-ddin Al Hali describing our acts as white, plains as green, battles as dark, and swords as red.

"The flag means a lot to me, it reminds me of my true identity," adds Maryam.

For Meera, the flag means "power, solidarity, and strength," and for Hessa, the flag resembles "loyalty, home, unity and power."

When asked what the UAE flag means to her, Noora said. "The courage of the people of the Emirates, the defeat of enemies and the strength of the mind."

Muna also expressed her thoughts on the flag, saying, "The UAE flag holds great significance as a powerful symbol of our nation's unity, rich heritage, and values, representing the collective spirit and pride of our people."

Spreading joy with food on the occasion of Flag Day

With all celebrations come the delectable food offerings and National Flag Day is no exception. Restaurant owners have already started to include dishes with the colours of the flag on the menu.

Parlour Boutique, a renowned French restaurant in the UAE, is celebrating UAE Flag Day with the Heritage Hues Collection. This special collection includes two delightful desserts that pay homage to the country. The first is a set of signature macarons, crafted in four vibrant colours symbolising the UAE flag - Green for matcha, Red for berry, Black for black currant, and White for cheesecake. The second dessert is the Unity Date Delight, a date pudding adorned with toffee sauce and cream cheese, topped with cream in the UAE flag's colours. These delectable creations are available throughout November for both dine-in and delivery.

Commenting on its unique way to celebrate the UAE's heritage and achievements, Maan Aboulhosn, the Head of Operations at Glee Hospitality, and the spokesperson for Parlour Boutique, said, "The UAE holds a special place in our hearts, and we want to create a collection that reflects this sentiment. It's a way for us and our valued customers to carry a piece of this connection with us on any occasion."

One should be on the lookout for more such delectables as with National Day drawing closer, several other restaurants are likely to come up with delectables with a touch of UAE.

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