Residents have started dressing up their cars with UAE flags, stickers and ribbons ahead of National Day celebrations.
Decorating cars and driving around are highlights of National Day. Like many Emirati car owners, Ahmed Al Mansouri, 40, expressed his patriotic pride through colourful stickers, images of the UAE’s leaders and sheikhs, flags and other National Day decals on his black GMC Sierra pickup truck.
“It’s our way of showing our love and appreciation for the UAE, our President, Sheikh Khalifa, and other Rulers and celebrate National Day,” he said.
Mr Al Mansouri, who works at Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, chose the portraits of Sheikh Khalifa and the late Sheikh Zayed, the Founding President, to cover the windows.
Car accessory shops normally use a sticky plastic material that has a picture on the outside but still provides external visibility to the driver inside the car.
A large white decal with an image of Sheikh Zayed and a smiling Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, as well as Arabic words about national pride and patriotism, covered two doors of Mr Al Mansouri’s vehicle.
The bonnet has a large UAE emblem and two stickers with the colours of the national flag.
The rear windscreen has the images of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and his late son, Sheikh Rashid, who died of a heart attack in September.
Mr Al Mansouri mounted a large UAE flag and two flags with the Spirit of the Union logo at the rear of his vehicle.
For many car accessory shops on Salam Street, Defence Road, and in Mussaffah, providing car decoration services has long been a staple business.
Harakat Auto Accessories charges Dh1,200 to cover the entire frame of an SUV and between Dh1,000 and Dh1,200 for a saloon car.
“It really depends on how elaborate and complex the designs are,” said the manager, Raad Al Sayed, a 25-year-old Palestinian who has been working in the UAE for eight years.
“Our sticker prices range from Dh50 to Dh200.”
National Day also gave expatriates a chance to show their love and appreciation for the country and its leadership, said Mr Al Sayed, although 80 per cent of his customers are Emiratis.
“We expect the rush to decorate cars to start on Sunday until the eve of National Day,” he said. “Many are excited to join the parade and show off their decorated cars.”
Police, however, have warned that the overdecoration of vehicles for National Day risks fines ranging from Dh500 to Dh3,000, plus 12 to 24 demerit points, and the possibility of having the vehicle impounded for up to a month.
Car owners are not allowed to change the colour of their vehicles, have inappropriate phrases on the car, carry too many passengers, install flags or tint windscreens, according to Abu Dhabi Police. Car decorations are permitted only until December 6.
Mr Al Mansouri, who spent Dh2,000 on car decorations, said the amount was “nothing” compared with what the leaders had done to make the country what it is today. “I love this country and I’m proud to be an Emirati,” said Mr Al Mansouri, who has six sons between the ages of four and 21.
Drivers have been warned against disrupting the flow of traffic with stunts or reckless driving. Passengers are forbidden from sticking any parts of their bodies out from vehicles’ windows or sunroofs.