The last of the founding fathers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) passed away yesterday (dawn of Wednesday) and it was a little embarrassing how I learned about it.
It is my habit to check the world news with emphasis on those related to the Philippines and the Gulf each morning before commencing my office work and even during the weekend. But because I was at the training/annual forum in Dubai during the first half of this week, I deviated since I had to catch up with a lot of things. One of which, I was trying to reach the line of one of my officemates to give a backgrounder about our meeting. I called the person next to her instead, “Is she in today?”, I inquired. “No. Haven’t you heard? She has to go there. Her Uncle passed away.” She replied. I simply exclaimed an “oh…”, only to realize later who is her Uncle.
I honestly felt guilty for not knowing, considering the sensitivity of the situation. The person I was intending to speak to is actually a Sheikha (a female member of the royal family). However, due to her humble nature, she made us feel and treat her a normal officemate. No labels. The next thing I did was to send my condolences through the email which she immediately replied through the Blackberry.
The last of the founding fathers, Shaikh Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, was the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah (the coldest place in the UAE that it even snowed in January 2009). Unlike in other monarchies, the succession which happens by order of birth, he was succeeded by his fourth son, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi (formerly the Crown Prince). The selection happens by identifying the most qualified person (among the sons, normally from different mothers) and it must be accepted by the proposed successor and rulers of the other emirates (labeled as the Supreme Council or as I call in tagalog Ang Supremo), to be in effect.
(Photo taken in 1973: The UAE leaders)
The late Shaikh Saqr contributed a lot to the UAE. His dedication is truly admirable and made me look back at how our own founders of the Philippines sacrificed to a greater extent. The UAE was born in December of 1971 and from nothing but only vision and resources, look at the rate the people and things are going. (Many visions ago, our Philippines started with the same and with more, hence, the hope is never ending.) Just a little refresher for people like me who was almost clueless before coming to UAE in early 2008, I thought that it was only Abu Dhabi and Dubai which comprise the UAE. Worse, I even presumed that the two emirates are different countries. And upon learning that there are other five emirates namely Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Umm al-Quwain, and Ras Al Khaimah, only then I realized that Abu Dhabi is its capital and not Dubai.
Finding out that Shaikh Saqr was the last founding fathers of the UAE was a little coincidental, too. It happened (only) last night when we were waiting for the announcement through the net that the government offices in the entire UAE will be closed for 7 days. Hence, I have clicked on almost every article that talks about him hoping to find the confirmation that indeed, we will have 7 days off. (In this part of the globe, the long weekends do not easily happen like in the Philippines wherein there is holiday economics. Normally, it is trigged by Islamic celebrations or when a member of the royal and ruling family dies. It is, of course, evil and illogical to hope that someone will die just for the luxury of toying with probabilities. Although when I was younger, I used to pray that there will be a super typhoon, so that the classes will be suspended. How selfish we can be during those days eh?)
For the meantime, some events were either postponed or cancelled, including the public launch of the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi (the world’s largest and first Ferrari theme park), which was moved to 4th of November. After much anticipation that there will be 7 days of mourning + work off in the entire UAE, it turned out that it is only applicable to other emirates excluding Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I agree that mourning can actually happen without interrupting the business. However, the announcement surprised some of the UAE nationals and expatriates (especially the expectants). Just as the UAE progresses, the modification of the practices swings with it. And it is more glaring to take effect for Abu Dhabi and Dubai being the more active and known emirates. I think that the decision has something to do with the anticipated long break by second week of November because of the Eid.
May Shaikh Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi rest in peace.
0 thoughts on “The last of the founding fathers”
sorry, no long holiday for you.:p
i only read about the emirates when two of my good friends went to Dubai for work a few years ago. they kept on pushing me to quit my job here and move to Dubai. at least in UAE, members of the royal family actually work!:p
i used to pray for signal no. 3 too when i was in school. i agree, that was selfish.
i’m impressed with your coworker not flaunting about her status as sheikha. she’s very humble.
very informative post. may Shaikh Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi rest in peace.
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Your sheikha office mate is very humble, I thought you could have longer holidays then, but be safe there, it is better that work days are suspended there because of such reasons and not because of storm, that can be quite frustrating.
I figure it is just right that since he was the ruler of Ras al Khaimah, only that emirate will officially have 7 days of mourning.
Btw I’ve been to Ras al Khaimah. I was clearly impressed by this rustic mountainous emirate. It still retains its mystical charm since it hasn’t been touched by modernism. It is reminiscent of the old Arabic towns which have existed since time immemorial.
May his Highness RIP.
this is a very informative post, at least for me. and yes, i do agree, your officemate who is a sheikha is soo humble. hope we have more people like her =)
hi wits, napakabuti ng ugali ng officemate mo, akalain mong shiekha at nagwork bilang simple.
may the Shaikh Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi rest in peace.
Since I arrived six years back, the only time that the private sector here in Dubai had work offs during royal mourning was when Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan (then UAE president) and Sheikh Maktoum Al Maktoum (then Dubai ruler) died.
I do tend also to think that Dubai has moved to be more sensitive to the concerns of multinational companies it is hosting.
so what are you doing during your time off?
We didn’t get the 7-day off. But this weekend is enough (pretending heeehee). We are, however, anticipating a long break by second week of November because of the Eid.
Nakakatuwa ka naman that you didn’t know UAE is a confideracy of emirates or Abu Dhabi was its capital. : )
IMO, that’s the reason why UAE have a much stable government. They choose who is the most capable to reign and not who’s next in line by birth. During the 70s, here in Saudi, the next king usually gave a one month bonus to each government employee on their succession to the throne. Sayang hindi ko na-abutan nung marami pa silang pera. : )
I didn’t know much about UAE. Nung first few weeks pagdating ko dito saka lang ako nagresearch ng husto.
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