Look: Indian expats raise giant flag balloon for UAE National Day

John used a large tarpaulin, clothes, air blowers, plywood, along with the support of friends and colleagues for this heartfelt tribute to the Emirates

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 2 Dec 2022, 12:57 PM

Last updated: Fri 2 Dec 2022, 8:45 PM

To celebrate the 51st National Day, a group of residents in Abu Dhabi have created giant balloon featuring the UAE’s national flag, positioned more than 10m off the ground.

The initiative has been led by long-time resident Anil K John, who works at the Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, where the balloon has been set up.

“I have been residing here for more than 23 years and mark each UAE National Day with a different initiative in a unique way,” he said.

Last year, he created a portrait of the UAE’s founding father, the late H.H Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, using 35,000 pearl scarf pins. In the past, John — who is popularly called Anil Kumbanad — wrote poems, made oil paintings, and directed an Arabic song on the achievements of the UAE.


“This time I wanted to do something related to the UAE national flag. I was looking for variety, and that’s how I thought of trying to create a balloon flag. I had to do some research as I couldn’t find anything online on how to make one.”

John used a large tarpaulin, clothes, air blowers, plywood and support of friends and colleagues.

“The work on this initiative started a month back. It was held under the guidance of Abdul Gafoor, general manager of the shopping centre, and Biju Thomas, who is the operations manager. Santosh Kumar Nishad and Rahul Kumar Pathak — both working at a contracting company — did the carpentry and pasting work. My friend Suresh Chalery did the stitching of the flag onto the tarp. Saif Ul Islam and Mohamed Rasheed, who is an expat from Bangladesh, offered great support. They voluntarily joined the project,” said John, who works as a maintenance supervisor at the shopping centre.

However, windy conditions posed a challenge to set the balloon up in an open area.

“We filled the vertical balloon using an air blower of 1hp. We are maintaining air pressure inside the balloon through a smaller blower. We tried and failed four times because of windy conditions. I almost gave up but then my roommate Madhusudhanan Karicheri urged me to try one last time. Finally, we succeeded."

"We are all happy. We have all made our lives from this country. We are all glad to put up a special display for the community,” John explained, as people took selfies in front of the balloon flag.

He has spent some sleepless nights fearing the balloon would collapse again.

“Though it’s a foolproof one and not going down, I was tense for a few days. I would even call security at 1-2am at night to check. It’s more than 42 feet high and standing on a water fountain. I don’t think such a vertical national flag has been made elsewhere. People even called me insane to try something like this. Their taunts and a few failures I faced, became a challenge for me. Luckily it has come good. The national flag is standing tall on the National Day!” he exclaimed.

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