Today marks the 45th UAE National Day – and although not Emirati by birth, we share in your joy. We will wave flags, join the crowds, and we will dress our children in red, green, white and black. And as the fireworks boom, the parties start, and the cars hoot their horns, we will celebrate alongside you to celebrate this wonderful place we call ‘home’.
There can’t be many places on this earth where so many nationalities come together to celebrate a country’s birth. But this place is special, after all. It’s welcomed so many to a new life in the sunshine, amongst people from all over the world. It is a country that has taught our children that diversity makes the world go round. And that friendships are not based on colour, language, or religion.
We listen to our children practicing Arabic and we feel our hearts swell with pride. They sing about ‘The 7 Emirates in the UAE’ and smiles spread across their faces as they dress in their National Day outfits and head off to celebrate at school. There are moments when we think; “they know more about the UAE than they do about life in Britain’ and we stop for a moment to think. But watching as they grasp the hand of a friend from India, laugh with a friend from Australia, play chase with a friend from Lebanon, and sit down to read with a friend from the UAE, we couldn’t feel more grateful for our life and their upbringing in the UAE.
We love the people in this country of yours. The Emiratis that we meet, the pride in your country, the traditions we witness, the kindness to strangers, the love for our children, and the strong sense of family you display. We love hearing the call of prayer from the mosques, seeing the beauty of your national dress, and smelling the rich fragrance of Oud as we stroll through the mall. We have fallen in love with your food, your dates, your coffee, your cafes and restaurants. We love visiting your mountains, watching our children play on your beaches, and watching the sun set in a burnt orange sky in your desert. And the truth is that we have come to love your Royal family as much as we do our own.
We love the new – the shiny malls, the amazing new buildings, the transport connections, and the ever-exciting plans for the future. But we love the old too – jumping on abras, haggling in souks, gazing up and seeing the bright blue sky through wind towers, and strolling through historic areas with our cameras in hand.
The truth is that very few of us planned to stay in the desert this long, but we quickly fell in love with the way of life here. And even if the time comes to leave, we know that the UAE will have left an imprint on our hearts forever – and we will always have such fond memories of living this life in the desert.
So thank you UAE for allowing us to fall in love – and congratulations on your 45th National Day. We can’t wait to celebrate right alongside you.
Love, British Mums in Dubai x