The UAE celebrates its 46th anniversary on December 2, and most of the country has three or four days off as a result. Here’s your definitive guide to all the events happening, so you can make the most of your extended break
Thursday November 30
Check out a cool National Day exhibition
emARTi 46 is on at Le Royal Meridien and features artworks from talents from all seven emirates. The exhibition looks at the country’s tradition, heritage and spirit.
Until December 29
Le Royal Meridien, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, 9am to late. Taxi: Le Royal Meridien. Tel: (02) 6742020. leroyalmeridienabudhabi.com
See live cricket for free
Abu Dhabi Cricket are hosting matches to commemorate Martyrs’ Day, today, and on December 2, National Day. Countries taking part include the UAE, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kenya and the USA. It’s free entry for both events.
Various locations including Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi. Taxi: Zayed Cricket Stadium. abudhabicricket.ae
McGettigan’s is celebrating the long weekend
The Irish pub in Al Raha has a Long Weekend Brunch running November 29 from 7pm to 10pm, lunch today from 12pm to 4pm, entertainment from live band Mark Laffan Duo on Friday night and their SOS breakfast deal on December 2 (three drinks and a breakfast dish for Dhs99, from noon to 6pm).
Al Raha Beach Hotel, Al Raha, Abu Dhabi. Taxi: Al Raha Beach Hotel. Tel: (02) 6524333. mcgettigans.com
The Smurfs are in town with a new show
You can see a stage production featuring the characters on Yas Island this weekend. The Smurfs Live On Stage features eight of the bonkers blue folk (including Papa Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Brainy and Smurfette), plus the evil wizard Gargamel, who has plans to scupper the little gnomes’ spring parade.
November 30 to December 1
du Forum, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, Thur to Sat, Dhs195 to Dhs495. Tel: (056) 6756834. Taxi: du Forum. tixbox.com
Friday December 1
Family fun at Yas Marina
Take your kids here for an arts and crafts zone, a bouncy zone and a carnival game zone. It runs Friday afternoon only.
Yas Marina, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 2pm to 6pm. Taxi: Yas Marina. Tel: (02) 4062000. yasmarina.ae
Animals and heritage at Al Ain Zoo
The garden city’s zoo has Emirati crafts demonstrations, a heritage village, Harbeyia performances and of course, the usual animals you can see on a visit here.
December 1 to 2
Al Ain Zoo, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, daily 2pm to 7pm. Taxi: Al Ain Zoo. Tel: (03) 7992000. alainzoo.ae
National Day celebrations at the city’s malls
Most of the city’s shopping centres are celebrating the UAE turning 46. Al Wahda Mall has face painters, balloon benders, mimes, and more, there’s kids crafts and prizes up for grabs at Deerfields, while Nation Towers Galleria has acrobats, a wishing wall to honour the UAE’s martyrs, and an art show called Stomp, featuring music made from recycled objects. Meanwhile, Dalma Mall has calligraphy, basket weaving and falconry demonstrations, an art exhibition from Abu Dhabi Art Hub and a UAE National Anthem singing competition. They also have a performance from Arabic singer and social media star Hamdan Al Bloshi. Bawadi Mall has a music parade and kids’ workshops. Yas Mall is also getting in on the act, with a Liwa folk band and a police marching band both performing, henna and face painting stations and an exhibition called The Unity Of The Emirates Story that celebrates the life of Sheikh Zayed. Mushrif Mall, WTC Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall, Khalidiyah Mall, Al Ain Mall and Marina Mall are also celebrating.
Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival
Learn about the UAE’s founding father at this annual festival – expect spectacular parades, falconry shows and plenty more.
December 1 to January 27
Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, timings TBC. Tel: (800) 555. Taxi: Al Wathba, near the cycle track. abudhabievents.ae
Celebrate at Ferrari World
Abu Dhabi’s themepark is also celebrating, with a weekend of special entertainment including Ayyala and Khaleeji dancers, stilt walkers, and more. Also, if you buy a bronze entry ticket to the park this weekend, you’ll get another one free (offer ends December 3). You both must have an Emirates ID to secure the free ticket.
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 11am to 8pm, prices vary. Taxi: Ferrari World. ferrariworldabudhabi.com
Saturday December 2
See Nancy on Yas
Lebanese superstar Nancy Ajram will be performing in Abu Dhabi as part of the celebrations. The singer, a multiplatinum selling artist who is also a goodwill ambassador for Unicef, has many medals to her name – she has sold more than two million records during her career and is the third best-selling female artist in Lebanon.
du Forum, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs250. Tel: (056) 6756834. Taxi: du Forum. tixbox.com
Fireworks on Al Maryah
The island is celebrating National Day with a fireworks display at 9pm. There’s also Emirati arts and crafts on the waterfront promenade, Ayyala and Harbeya dancers and live cooking stations offering traditional Emirati food.
Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, 4pm to 9pm. Taxi: The Galleria. thegalleria.ae
Colours and fireworks at Yas Marina Circuit
Fresh from F1 weekend, the city’s race track is hosting National Day Colours today. A celebration of Emirati culture is planned, including fireworks, live music, oud players, calligraphy, henna, falconry, dancers, arts and crafts for kids, amusement rides and lots more.
Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, 2pm to 7pm. Taxi: Yas Marina Ciruit. Tel: (02) 6599999. yasmarinacircuit.com
Make a splash at Yas Waterworld
Abu Dhabi’s waterpark is holding a huge water pistol fight at 11.46am exactly (see what they did there?). There’s more UAE-themed celebrations throughout the day.
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 6pm. Taxi: Yas Waterworld. Tel: (02) 4968008. yaswaterworld.com
Sunday December 3
Visit a cycling festival
The Daman ActiveLive Family Cycling Festival takes place today in Al Ain. It’s similar to the Cycling Festivals that have taken place at Zayed Sports City, there’s plenty of activities for kids to get involved with, all with the aim of getting them riding bikes. You’ll also get to meet a pro – Mark Cavendish will be there, as the venue is the finish line for a 175km ride taking place from Abu Dhabi to the garden city that morning.
Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, 9am to 4pm. Taxi: Al Jahili Fort. Tel: (054) 4473109. abudhabievents.ae
Explore a new heritage village
Emirates Park Zoo has opened a new heritage village as part of its National Day celebrations. There’ll be falconry shows, traditional sweets and fun for kids.
December 1 to 3
Emirates Park Zoo, Al Bahia, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (02) 5010000. Taxi: Emirates Park Zoo. emiratesparkzooandresort.com