December 2, 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of the formation of the United Arab Emirates. In 1971, seven trucial states, now known as “Emirates” ( Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain) joined to become the UAE.
Like July 4th in the United States, flags and balloons of the country’s national colors come out in full force (in the UAE’s case, that would be red, black, white, and green) and begin to decorate what seems like every surface area available.
Many storefronts and buildings are draped with meters upon meters of cloth in the form of the UAE flag:
I saw this photo from a distance during my morning run and grabbed my iPhone to get a shot of UAE flags suspended in the air by huge helium balloons:
I was going to stay home that day and avoid all the madness but during my run, I was intrigued by all the parachuting going on by Marina Promenade so later that morning, I returned with Scotch and Wee Scotch.
It was a nice 30-minute stroll from our apartment in Jumeirah Beach Residences to the staging area of the Sky Diving and Parachuting competition. Well, except for the part where Wee Scotch didn’t want to walk nor sit in his stroller and started to whine and scream.
Entrance to the viewing area – only yards or meters away from where the parachuters boarded planes and landed – was free.
I almost stepped on a few parachutes with their dangly ropes when I was too absorbed with staring at the sky and not paying attention to the ground in front of me. When we first arrived, we even had to patiently wait by the entrance so that a plane could safely fly by us and board more sky divers!
It seemed to be a well-organized event in that there was ample parking, food options (a cafe and shawarma stand), Wi-Fi in the restaurant, and clean bathroom facilities with attendants. However, there didn’t seem to be public covered areas but we managed to find a small shady spot by an event flag where we laid out our straw mat and had a picnic lunch of bread with cheese and sausages.
Wee Scotch loved seeing all the airplanes and helicopters in the immediate vicinity – he would scream, “Fei-gay up-up!” when a plane took off and “Fei-gay down down!” when it was landing. (“Fei-Gay” is Cantonese for airplane.)
He loved watching the parachuters glide through the sky like fast moving balloons. Here is a video of a parachuter practicing his landing:
There were sky divers performing group formations with the striking features of the Palm Jumeirah as the backdrop. We saw these stunts on a big viewing screen but the screen resolution wasn’t very good so it was hard to see the divers clearly.
I walked by some of the sky divers practicing their moves on the ground and at first I couldn’t understand why they kept hugging each other in different ways and tried to avoid staring at them. Then the AHA! moment hit and I realized what they were doing :).
Video of a parachuting stunt:
The 3rd Dubai International Parachuting Championship and Gulf Cup will take place until December 10, 2011. For more details, please visit the SkyDive Dubai webpage.
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Later that night, we went to Benihana’s for dinner and I’m just going to say that dinner was “okay” in case they decide to sue me if I write anything else in the negative.
On the walk back from dinner, the one-way street that is Jumeirah Beach Walk was even more congested than usual with all the usual weekend cruisers as well as with the National Day festivities.
Most cars were decked out with at least 2 flags (usually more) attached to windows, antennaes, and bumpers. Spray painted and silk-screened images of the ruling Sheikhs on car windows were a-plenty.
Even bundles of tulle in UAE colors were used to decorate car handles and roof racks:
As I walked past a Lambhorghini (also professionally spray painted in UAE colors) and two young boys spraying silly string and foam on every car they passed by, I happened upon this car:
Nothing too out of the ordinary until you see the hood…
…which was draped with feather boas in UAE colors. Interesting.