From folk music and storytellers to Harbia dancers and handicrafts, discover unique displays of Emirati heritage throughout the weekend
Dubai, UAE-: The United Arab Emirates rings in Union Day every 2nd December, marking the day all seven Emirates unified into one nation. This year, the occasion falls on a weekend, so families can commemorate the 52nd anniversary by participating in authentic Emirati traditions. From Al Seef to JBR and popular destinations in between, discover where you can catch traditional performances, enjoy local handicrafts, and engage in children’s activities that offer a glimpse into the rich heritage and history of the UAE.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Souk Madinat Jumeirah recreates the traditional Middle Eastern marketplace, with its authentic architecture, wooden stalls and labyrinthine corridors providing the perfect backdrop for Union Day.
Explore a rotating schedule of performances honouring Emirati heritage and history. Traditional Ayyala dancers and storytellers will bring to life Emirati folk customs. At the same time, carpet and fishnet weavers and falconry shows shed light on deeply embedded cultural traditions that stand the test of time. Children can partake in interactive workshops, such as weaving sadu designs – Arab geometrical patterns – that tell a story, face painting and decorating cookies.
|CARPET & FISHNET WEAVING
|3 PM, 6 PM, 8 PM
|3:30 PM, 6:30 PM, 8:30 PM
|1-3 PM &
|12-3 PM &
|2- 8 PM
JBR The Walk
Revel in Dubai’s winter weather along JBR’s promenade on Union Day. Secure a table alfresco at one of its many trending restaurants – Dave’s Hot Chicken and Allo Beirut are crowd favourites – so you can catch traditional roaming acts. Harbia and Nadba performances, traditional handicrafts and henna designs bring authentic Emirati customs to the fore. JBR Winter Nights carries on at the same time, showcasing family-favourite flicks every Friday and Saturday. Use Union Day as an excuse to catch the adventures of Moana (Friday, 1 December) and Frozen (Saturday, 2 December) at 5 PM and 7 PM alongside a host of children’s workshops.
|1 – 3 December
|HENNA & HANDICRAFTS
(1 & 2 DEC)
|5:45 PM, 6 PM, 7:30 PM,
8 PM, 8:40 PM, 9:10 PM, 9:20PM
|5:45 PM – 10 PM
|5 PM & 7 PM
Al Khawaneej Walk
Nestled in the charming neighbourhood of Al Khawaneej, Al Khawaneej Walk and its neighbouring Last Exit are decking out in national colours to honour the occasion. Be an audience to live folkloric musical performances by the pond that capture the Emirati spirit and make the most of exclusive offers at Al Khawaneej Walk’s plethora of restaurants, shops and entertainment.
When: 1 – 3 December, 4-8 PM
Al Seef is another Dubai destination that embodies the heart and spirit of the UAE. Set along the banks of the iconic Dubai Creek, once the bustling centre of trade and commerce, Al Seef is part Arabian souk and old-world architecture and part modern restaurants and experiences. Henna artists, falconry displays and traditional crafts such as basket-making and weaving will provide complete cultural immersion alongside a spread of signature Emirati treats such as Arabic coffee and luqaimat.
When: 1-3 December, 4-8 PM
The idyllic urban getaway of Bluewaters, with its modern avenues lined with chic restaurants and a unique ambience, is getting into the spirit of Union Day. Local heritage takes centre stage with a packed schedule of traditional bands, including Harbia, Lewa and Nadba performances, a showcase on handicrafts and a brilliant henna designer.
|1 – 3 December
SHOWCASE & HENNA
(1 – 2 DEC)
|5 PM, 6 PM, 8:10 PM
|5:45 PM, 8 PM, 9:10 PM
|6 PM, 7:30 PM, 8:40 PM, 9:20 PM
With its hip industrial pulse, Boxpark is an upbeat lifestyle hub that brings a refreshing take on Dubai’s shopping and dining scene. All 1.2 kilometres of it is gearing up for Union Day with eye-catching light installations and a dynamic cultural programme to inspire all ages. Along with traditional musical and dance performances, a cultural village will host falconry displays, a talented henna artist and a spread of Emirati treats such as classic snacks and sweet luqaimat. Visitors can get hands-on experience with age-old crafts such as basket-making and weaving for a deep cultural dive before settling in for a delectable family lunch or dinner at one of Boxpark’s original restaurants and cafes.
When: 1 – 3 December, 4-8 PM
The Outlet Village
Throughout the weekend, leading luxury labels, sports stores and lifestyle stores alike are dropping prices at The Outlet Village – on top of their incredible discounts. Shoppers can scope out various holiday gifts to the sounds of live Harbia band performances showcasing the UAE’s rich musical heritage.
When: 1-3 December at 6 PM, 7:30 PM, 8:40 PM & 9:30 PM
Along with Dubai’s retail hotspots, community centres will bring the Union Day energy closer to home. Serena Marketplace, located near Al Waha and Al Layan, and Shorooq Community Centre in the Shorooq neighbourhood are planning special activities for little ones. From noon until evening, children can have their faces painted with UAE-themed designs and attend engaging arts and crafts workshops.
When: 2-3 December, 12-8 PM