A nation was united once more on Friday as the UAE's 51st National Day was marked with joyous celebrations.
Emiratis and residents alike turned out in force at events all over the country to fly the flag of the UAE with pride and reflect on its remarkable rise.
The headlining act on the memorable occasion was the stunning National Day show held at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
The rulers of all seven emirates — led by President Sheikh Mohamed — watched as the past, present and future of the UAE took centre stage.
The lavish production highlighted the UAE's rich biodiversity and its long maritime history, put its thriving space sector in the spotlight and stressed the need to forge a greener future, as the country prepares to host the Cop28 climate summit in 2023.
It was fitting that Etihad Rail took centre stage, with a train carrying waving passengers rolling into view.
Much like the foundation of the union in 1971, the national rail project will again help connect the emirates.
Flag-waving children then joined the celebration, with hundreds making a procession through the time tunnel as their written hopes and dreams for the future were beamed on to the stage.
The performance concluded with a vivid display of Al Ayyala dancing from a 200-strong troupe of Emirati performers in another nod to the nation’s cultural heritage.
Patriotic pride on display
The Surreal water feature, a major hit during Expo 2020, became the backdrop for a celebration of Arabic culture led by Emirati poet AlWasmy.
Across Expo City, cultural performances took place through late afternoon and, as night fell, huge projections appeared on the walls of Al Wasl Plaza to celebrate the UAE.
Visitors to Expo City enjoyed a taste of Emirati hospitality and traditions, with a cultural market and roving bands who would break into traditional song and dance as they meandered through the site.
Thousands turn out in Sharjah
National Day fervour was in healthy supply on land and sea in Sharjah.
Thousands flocked to a maritime parade in the emirate.
People queued outside Sharjah Maritime Museum from 11am to join the boats that made their way through Al Qasba to Flag Island and then returned to the Maritime Museum Marina.
Meanwhile, there was a carnival atmosphere in the Labour Park in Al Saja'a Industrial Area.
The Labour Standards Development Authority in Sharjah organised a National Day celebration for workers.
Spectacular firework displays will light up the night skies later on Friday as the festivities continue.
The show will go on
Members of the public will have the chance to see the mesmerising National Day show for themselves in the days to come.
The breathtaking show will be re-enacted at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from December 3 to 11.
Tickets for the nine shows ― which start at 6pm each day ― are available for Dh200 via the National Day website. Children under three can attend free of charge.
UAE looks to a brighter future for all
Sheikh Mohamed, in his first National Day address as President, emphasised that the UAE will be a strong supporter of humanity and its development.
He said the 51st National Day is a time to recall the lessons of the past and look at the present with awareness and contemplation, while looking to the future with hope, optimism and confidence, state news agency Wam reported.
“Taking care of our citizens and opening up all avenues of development, creativity and self-affirmation before them has been, and will always remain, our top priority and we will spare no effort to achieve this goal,” Sheikh Mohamed said.