UAE National Day: No long weekend for these expats as duty comes first

While many residents are now on overseas adventures or staycations, not everyone has the same privilege. Meet the people who are always willing to give up their holidays so others can enjoy theirs


SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Thu 1 Dec 2022, 6:02 PM

Last updated: Sat 3 Dec 2022, 5:21 PM

The quiet offices and the absence of cars honking during what used to be the rush hours were all signs that point to one thing: The last long weekend of the year has officially begun in the UAE.

While many residents are going on overseas adventures or staycations, others are getting all the sleep they need at home. However, for some expats, it's business as usual — no break, leaves, or even a weekend.

Ateeq Ahmed, who looks after a parking lot in Sharjah's Majaz 1, has already had his mind set for full days of work as travelling residents had placed their cars under his care.

“They will come back only after the holidays. They have trusted me and left their vehicles here, so I have to look after them,” said Ateeq Ahmed.

Abdul Kalam, a worker at the Sharjah Municipality, knows that he won't be able to take a break, too, because there are plants and shrubs relying on him.

“I am very close to these plants and the greenery. If I don’t water them for a day, I cannot have a peaceful night,” said Abdul, who usually volunteers to work even on his days off.

Besides keeping the greenery alive, Abdul Kalam also cleans up the Kalba beach as if it were his home.

“On weekends and holidays, people from Dubai, Sharjah, and other emirates come to Kalba beach to spend time with their families. And it's my responsibility to make the time they spend here memorable," he said.


Cart-pullers, lifeguards, abra driver

There are other expats who had already planned an outing but then duty called.

Abdul Khaliq, a cart-puller in the busy markets of Naif and Al Ras, had planned to meet his cousins and friends in Abu Dhabi, “but I had to cancel it as a shipment of my client will arrive and I had to take care of it.”

Since the market will be closed on December 2, nearly all the cart-pullers will take a day off.

“All my colleagues have made plans to go swimming or hiking in the hills of Fujairah, but my duty is calling me, and I have to be ready,” added Abdul Khaliq.

Lifeguards at beaches across the Emirates will also be working throughout the National Day weekend. In fact, they have to be extra vigilant as more people will be coming in to take a dip in the waters.

“Hundreds of residents come here at Mamzar Beach with the confidence that we are there to help them if something goes wrong,” one lifeguard said.

Two lifeguards are stationed at every booth at the beach to cater to the heavy rush during the holidays.

“If we are on leave on a National Day, some will be too scared to go into the waters. We are most willing to come forward so that the residents can come here and swim to their hearts' content."

Taxi and abra drivers are also obliged to offer their service during the National Day.

“During such holidays, many people travel from Deira to Ghubaiba and Shindagha Mall and Al Seef and nearby places. Then, people from the Bur Dubai side spend time at the Creek or meet their friends and relatives in Deira. They look forward to commuting by abra as it's very economical and they reach the other side in minutes. So we have to be ready to serve them,” said Mubasshir Ali, an abra driver.

“Also, many families from other emirates come here, hoping to take a ride in an abra. Their children are very excited to hop on.” said Ali.


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