For the past two weeks, the UAE has been preparing for its 41st National Day. In Al-Ain, the first thing I noticed was all of the decorations being put up the day after Thanksgiving (I am sure the timing was a coincidence and not meant to fall in line with when Americans typically start hanging holiday decorations). Every tree along Khalifa Street is decorated with red, green, or white lights (again, even though this seems Christmas themed, these are the colors of the UAE flag).
Many of the buildings are also decorated with lights (of which I am trying really hard not to call Christmas lights even though I don’t have a better word to use to describe them), pictures of the presidents, and “41” signs. It really is beautiful to look at when driving at night. I have to catch myself at times and remember that the decorations are not for Christmas, but even still, it has made me feel the holiday spirit.
Many of the cars are blinged out with pictures, flags, feathers, and sparkle. The one in this picture is just a taste of what many of the cars look like right now, and as we got closer to National Day, the more decorated and outrageous the cars got.
The next thing that made me know something was going on for National Day, was the festivities at the university. Now if I had seen this herd of camels as I got to campus as Christine did, I would have had an idea that some kind of festivities were about to happen. But since I get to work so early, I didn’t see them and therefore was a bit surprised by the unannounced festive National Day parade held right in the middle of the day during class time.
Right towards the end of my class, I glanced out the window to the main corridor between the buildings and saw a few horses. This sparked our attention, so my students and I went over to the windows for closer inspection and saw that not only were there horses, but there were also camels, military-dressed like women, and a marching band. Throw in the fact that there were boys riding the camels, and I knew class was over for the day. These are pictures of my students taking pictures from the classroom window. I was never going to get back the attention of my students. Class dismissed! Let’s go watch the parade!
Once outside, you could feel the excitement of the students and see the look of confusion on the instructors’ faces as they tried to figure out if they should go to their next class, and if so, how would they cross the
parade to get there – especially since some of the instructors were suppose to have their official observation right at the same time the parade was starting. I liked the parade, but even more so I loved watching how the people responded to the parade.
I loved seeing the women marching, students trying to take videos and pictures, men trying to keep the camels under control, and everyone in good spirits.