Holidays in the Middle East, just like in other countries around the world, are important times for businesses to bring their A+ marketing games. One of the most notable holidays in the Arab world is the United Arab Emirates’ National Day, and is critical for anyone who does business in the country to know. This important national holiday is associated with heightened purchasing habits, resulting in tremendous business opportunities across the country, so marketers must understand how to effectively position their businesses to best take advantage.
Welcome to the internet’s most comprehensive English language marketing guide about this holiday. To help you optimize your UAE National Day marketing efforts, we provide in-depth background information, must-do steps, and mistakes to avoid.
What is UAE National Day?
Falling each year on December 2nd, the United Arab Emirates celebrates National Day to remember the country’s formal declaration and establishment of statehood. The UAE’s land was historically divided into seven different “emirates” – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Al-Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain – each with their own leader or emir. In 1971, each emirate decided to join together to create one more powerful nation instead of smaller, less-powerful ones. The resulting country is the United Arab Emirates, whose state structure draws similarities to the United States, with many individual states under one collective power. Nearly every country in the world has a national day celebration that marks their formal transition to statehood, and the UAE’s is National Day. It is the equivalent of the United States Fourth of July and Canada’s Canada Day. National Day also means all people in UAE get two days of federal holiday, meaning they do not have to go to work. It is thus a time with large-scale public celebrations, get-togethers with friends and family, and a time to eat and buy to your heart’s content!
Why Should My Business Care About UAE National Day?
The importance of UAE National Day for Emiratis (people who live in the United Arab Emirates) cannot be understated. Across the country, consumerism increases as people wish to buy gifts and services for their family and friends. Additionally, everyone gets two days off work to celebrate, so there is more downtime than usual to participate in shopping and eating.
Out of the entire Arab world, the United Arab Emirates represents one of the most valuable market opportunities. Many believe Dubai, the powerful international economic business hub, is its own country, when it is actually a city within the UAE (and not even the capital city!). Even if you do not know much about the UAE, the prospect of capturing Dubai’s wealthy market is reason enough to nail your marketing campaign. The average income in Dubai is 4,570 USD, and the city is home to some of the wealthiest people on earth. This reflects trends in the whole country of more than ten million people, as the state economy is still growing around 4% every year. It is also a free zone, attracting many people who do not wish to pay income tax.
How is UAE National Day celebrated?
Similar to independence day celebrations in other countries, the entire day involves an abundance of festivities. They say Dubai does everything bigger and better, and this extends to its celebrations as well! From some of the most extravagant fireworks displays in the world to air shows to lighted streets and buildings, the entire country goes out to celebrate. Good for you and your business, it also means more people have free time to be buying items and services online.
Should I Use Arabic or a Different Language?
The question of language is crucial to consider in your marketing strategy. Out of all the countries in the Middle East, the UAE has the most linguistic diversity, thanks to all of the foreigners living and working here. The answer to this question depends entirely on who your market is: is it a foreign mix of people living here? Or is it local Emiratis? Is it people in Dubai, or people in the other Emirates? Arabic is the official language, and the most widely spoken, as it is taught in all schools. However, English is the secondary language that generally accompanies Arabic in shops, hotels, and commercial establishments. If you are speaking to a more commercial/ international audience, we recommend you use a mix of English and Arabic. If your population is more local, just use Arabic.
Note: Each Arab country has its own dialect of Arabic. Ensure that your content is best optimized for UAE’s version.
Include Nationalistic Colors in Marketing Materials
Like anywhere around the world, national day marketing must include national colors to spur patriotism. Drawn from the flag, the UAE’s national colors are white, red, green, and black. You should make a strong effort to generate text and graphics in these four colors.
The added benefit is that these colors actually have significance across the Middle East, as they each represent a different Arab era/ dynasty (black represents the Abbasid dynasty, white was the Umayyad dynasty, green was the Fatimid dynasty, and red was the Hashemite dynasty). These Pan-Arab colors are also used by many other Arab countries across the region. This marketing push to create and post content using these special colors will undoubtedly earn you more business across the region.
This was Google’s homepage during one UAE National Day
This is a joyous day in the UAE, as millions of people take to the streets to celebrate their nation. Accordingly, the tone of your marketing campaign should reflect this, with upbeat and encouraging messages to capture the hearts and minds of Emiratis. If you are writing a blog or an article to fit alongside your marketing graphics, there are four major themes you should consider generating content around:
1. The role and importance of peace
The UAE is one of the rare countries whose foundation was not the result of a costly and devastating independence battle. The country’s founding is rooted in peace. Thus, the message of peace should be central to your content.
2. Power in collaboration/unity
Similar to #1, the country was founded thanks to collective cooperation of high-profile rulers. The cooperation exhibited by these seven emirs is a story with a deeply moving moral — there is great strength in working together. This is a fantastic message to include, and opens up the possibility of creating and using some terrific graphics.
3. Spending quality time with family/ friends
These two days off work are a time for family and friends. Whether it is buying an electronic device for your nephew or getting back together with your high school friends for a filling meal, Emiratis are spending the day enjoying each other’s company.
4. Whatever the year’s theme is!
Every year, the UAE announces a different National Day theme to rally around. Frequent events, shows, and parades are presented, capitalizing on this topic. You should find out what this year’s theme is a couple of months in advance, and produce content that highlights the annual theme. This makes sure your content is relevant and in the know. You should also highlight the number of years that the anniversary represents.
The 2020 National Day theme was the “Seeds of the Union”
Massive Opportunity in 2021
2021 represents the 50-year anniversary of the founding of the UAE, meaning there has never been a more relevant time to drive a strong marketing campaign. Your content should reference the golden anniversary and use Roman and Arabic script numerals in massive print. We also recommend using text that reflects upon this country’s creation for the last half a decade.
This is how Emirates, the world-renowned airline, celebrated 2020’s National Day, the 49th anniversary of the state.
Identify and Include Relevant Hashtags
Hashtags remain an excellent way to get discovered by target audiences on social media platforms. In order to select which ones will earn you the most traffic, you need to do keyword research to find out what has been used successfully previously. This involves conducting SEO research.
A critical step in this process is ensuring that your messaging is appropriate and in line with Islamic values, as three fifths of the population is Muslim. In the west, holiday marketing campaigns might include imagery of alcohol or women in bikinis. However, the same tactics would be wildly inappropriate in the UAE. Your content should be modest and conservative. If you have questions on if your campaign will be received well, get in touch with IstiZada today.
When Should I Start My Marketing Campaign?
You are probably wondering when the right time is to begin your marketing push. You have to be strategic – not posting too prematurely so it is out of place, and not posting too late that you are too close to the day. Your business must determine the sweet spot, when will your message be sent at the proper time to not get lost among all the other marketing pushes. For maximum efficacy, we recommend about three weeks before. However, you should begin generating your content weeks before this deadline, so you are ready to go!
If you need help launching your UAE National Day marketing campaign, contact us to find out more about how we can help you maximize your profit in the United Arab Emirates and the Arab World.