Emirati identity is often associated with social distance between nationals and non-nationals. This article attempts to show, however, that practices of Emirati nationhood mirror the ambivalence of modernity: while assumptions about nationhood and social distance resonate with everyday perceptions, they are locally and individually negotiated, and sometimes they are even obliterated. Drawing on fieldwork in the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, the argument comes in three steps. First, the article surveys scholarship that invokes assumptions about nationality and social distance. Second, it shows how the story about Emirati identity and social distance is negotiated during National Day in 2013 and in the wearing of national dress. Third, the article investigates how everyday nationhood and social distance emerge together on a daily but overlooked basis in the dominant form of public interaction: namely, on the road.