The 52nd UAE National Day is right around the corner, officially marked on 2 December each year. The day makes the last public holiday of the year in the UAE calendar, and while this weekend the 2 and 3 December fall on a Saturday and Sunday, the government has announced that Monday 4 December will be a public holiday – giving those working Monday to Friday an additional day off. With the surprise announcement, plenty of residents across the UAE will be looking to make some exciting last-minute plans for UAE National Day 2023. Here are the best things to do across the emirates.
Last-minute UAE National Day ideas
Learn about Emirati heritage and traditions at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara
Translating to ‘palace of mirages’, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in Abu Dhabi is the most fitting and luxurious backdrop to immerse yourself in the country’s heritage this UAE National Day. The breathtaking desert resort (the perfect destination for a staycation in itself) has opened Ezba, a new educational and interactive space that pays homage to Bedouin traditions and Emirati heritage. Nestled in the golden dunes of the Liwa desert, the new cultural centre takes visits on a journey back in time buy, with fascinating exhibits, tour guides on hand, with visiting artisans demonstrating Khoos, Sadu and Burqa weaving, as well as Talli embroidery techniques. Other demonstrations include traditional Arabic music, discovering how the Bedouins farmed the land, learning the local flora and getting up close with desert animals including, including camels, saluki dogs, gazelles, horses, and the UAE national bird, the falcon. The charming Ezba souk will also sell local dates, Arabic coffee, natural honey, handcrafts from local artisans of Khoos, Sadu & Talli Crafts, and ghutras to bring home to loved ones as gifts.
AED250 per person admission, AED200 for children (Children under two enjoy free entry). Daily tours morning and afternoon, each lasting 60 to 75 minutes, advanced booking is required; anantara.com/en/qasr-al-sarab-abu-dhabi/ezba, +971 (0) 2 895 8700
Pick up a unique piece of jewellery
Celebrating 52 years since the birth of the United Arab Emirates, two Emirati heritage brands, Al Fardan Jewellery Abu Dhabi and Misk Jewellery, have come together to create an exclusive piece to commemorate the occasion. The limited-edition Heritage Necklace – available in National Towers Abu Dhabi and online – is a reinterpretation of Misk’s traditional Emirati jewellery with signature pearl bears replacing the chain in tribute to the nation’s pearl diving history. The necklace features interchangeable pendant beads in the colours of the UAE flag – black onyx, red agate, white pearl and green malachite – and is a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to the pioneering country. alfardanjewellery.com
Take a dip under the stars
As the world’s highest 360-degree infinity pool, Aura Skypool is a Dubai landmark, and this UAE National Day, the pool is celebrating by inviting guests to enjoy a UAE National Day Swim. Taking place from Friday 1 to Sunday 3 December between 8pm and 11pm guests can swim 210 metres up and take in wrap-around views of the city’s most iconic sights and glittering skyline. While enjoying the cool waters, guests can take in landmarks like the Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Ain Dubai, Atlantis The Palm and, of course, the branches of the Palm Jumeirah. Crating a convivial and festive atmosphere, the evening features live entertainment, and guests are able to order from the restaurants’ Pan-Asian manu of bites and signature drinks. Guests can also get cosy in Aura’s branded robes for a small additional cost. Those who prefer not to swim can also enjoy the beautiful setting and vibes with a ticket to its night brunch comprising three hours of free-flowing drinks and Pan-Asian delights for AED480 per person.
Palm Tower, Palm Jumeirah; auraskypool.com.
Take a peak inside Dubai’s iconic Burj Al Arab
Celebrate UAE National Day at one of the UAE’s most iconic buildings, the Burj Al Arab, a hotel that put Dubai on the world’s tourism mat when it opened in 1999. As one of the Emirates’ most famous hotels, guests can enjoy a range of unique tour experiences inside the hotel – whose public spaces are usually the preserve of paying guests. The Golden Sunset package (898 for two) is available every Saturday from 4pm to 6:30pm – so make sure to book for this 1 December – and includes a tour of the hotel, followed by breathtaking sunset views, a glass of bubbly and a live saxophonist, plus access to the stunning UMA Lounge. The 24 Karat Gold Tour Experiences are priced at AED399 per person and include a 60-90 minute tour, plus the hotel’s signature golden cappuccino – sprinkled with 24 Karat gold (or, for those inclined, a Golden Espresso Martini or Golden Colada).
Enjoy a chic Greek lunch and market atmosphere
Travel to Greece this UAE National Day with a trip to Avli by Tashas – a chic restaurant in Dubai’s DIFC. Known for its exceptional Greek cuisine, impeccable interiors and stylish vibe, the restaurant has launched its first-ever collaboration with the Athenian Saturday Lunch, alongside a special market-inspired project named ‘Bakaliko’ – all bringing people together in celebration. Taking place on Saturdays – make sure to book for 2 December – the lunch is an ode to Greek hospitality and invites guests to enjoy a feast of the flavours, scenes and colours of the Hellenic republic. Using recipes from Chef Vlassia’s childhood, Chef Lagos’ homeland, the island of Samos, as well as the Cyclades, and authentic Athenian dishes – highlights include a burger section and a la carte menu with 12 options spanning eggs, mains, sides and dessert. A mini market – styled like a traditional Greek market (albeit a very chic one) will also be on hand for diners to purchase and take home fresh dairy, eggs, jams, preserves, and other Greek staples.
The Athenian Lunch and the Bakaliko from 12 pm to 4 pm, Athenina lunch priced at AED 360 per person (food only), avlibytashas.com, @avlibytashas
Take a day trip to Hatta
With Monday off instead of Friday, you might be after some relaxation and to connect with nature, and there are few better ways to do this in Dubai than a trip to Hatta. As the emirate’s adventure capital, this rugged mountainous enclave is just a 90-minute drive east of Dubai, and 10 minutes from the UAE-Oman border, marked by a wonderfully incongruous Hollywood-esque sign and known for its mountains filled with hiking trails, the scenic Hatta Dam and plenty of natural activities. Perfect for a weekend escape, Hatta has plenty of fantastic hotels and accommodation offerings, from rustic-chic glamping to a leisure resort with tennis, golf and swimming pools.
Enjoy UAE National Day sweet treats with Four Seasons
This UAE National Day, Four Seasons is inviting guests to sample some delicious sweet treats to mark the festive occasion. At the palatial Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, the hotel’s slick Shai Salon – famed for its afternoon tea – is offering an array of special themed cookies and pastries that pay homage to the history for the UAE created for the occasion. At Four Seasons DIFC, the hotel is marking Commemoration Day and National Day by serving a new Emirates Flower dessert in its Penrose Lounge and celebrated Mina Brasserie – a delicate dessert featuring velvety vanilla mousse, mandarin cremoux, and refreshing mandarin sorbet.
Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach @fsdubai, @shai_salon; Four Seasons Hotel DIFC, @fsdubaidifc, @minabrasseriedubai