Bettina blog pic 1.12.14
The roundabouts and the roads in Al Ain are beautifully decorated with lights that represent UAE colours.

I don’t remember how I brought in my 43rd birthday, but I’ll always remember how I helped celebrate the UAE’s big day — and I haven’t even celebrated actual National Day yet.

Al Ain glows with festive lights and banners. Villas are draped with massive flags and beautiful lights. I love driving to work in the morning to see all that satin billowing in the breeze.   It’s also fun to visit different roundabouts just to see what lights and decorations are up. By my flat, it’s all green and white. The tunnel that goes under Dewan Roundabout has twinkly stars, and the road in front of my complex has lit up falcons and flags.

Last Thursday, we had a National Day party at work. It was so nice to see the girls with their makeup, beautiful dresses and jewels. Their mothers and siblings came to join us, and I just loved getting to meet everyone. The girls also braided my hair (I think it drives them crazy that I wear it down most of the time), rubbed saffron oil on my face, and put traditional henna designs on my hands. We got to be girls and have fun together, which is so much nicer than my constant reminders for them to be quiet and listen.

It's time for my henna design!
It’s time for my henna design!

It couldn’t have happened on a better day because Thursday was also Thanksgiving, and I was worried that I’d be really homesick since this is such a big day for families back home. I did miss my family, but I had such a good time at work and then later on in the evening with my neighbours, that I felt more joy than sorrow. Plus, because of my absence, my daughter got to roast her first turkey. No one ended up in the hospital, so lots of good cheer at home too — and I totally expect the child to roast a turkey for me when I finally return.

Work, for me, is so much easier right now as well. The entire month of December should be a fun one, and I am so grateful for that.   Someone will need to remind me of this when I whine about all my work in January.

Right now, I’m officially off until Sunday morning, and I plan on partying with Emiratis and expats in Abu Dhabi and, later in the week, with revellers in Dubai. I might just be exhausted by the time this week is over. But, for now, I am so proud and happy to be part of this country’s patriotic celebrations. Thank you UAE!

About Bettina Bennett

Bettina Bennett is currently a Cycle two and three educator here in the UAE. She is also a Teach UAE Magazine Blogger and Guest Contributor.