This week, like many others, I am turning my attention back to the Emirates and its origins. I do that every year, but this time it is special: the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates and its appearance on the world stage.
A.D. I was in London on December 2, 1971, when the first flag of the United Arab Emirates was hoisted. A.D. For the first time since 1975, I did not have direct contact with Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the country and the United Arab Emirates. So over 45 years, if not half a century, I have memories and insights.
In recent days, while talking to school children, I have tried to recall a few of these memories and try to explain how they understand the nature of the country, its progress, and the spirit that inspired it all.
Many, of course, have a relationship with Sheikh Zayed themselves. A.D. I remember the previous national day in 1977, I think, when there was a small demonstration against Abu Dhabi Cornish, much less than today. Sheikh Zayed sits on the sidewalk with other high-ranking officials, smiling and talking, and professional photographers and eager spectators approach to take pictures. There was no obstacle, just a little bit of security – it was something like an urban carnival or a friendly family event. I miss those informal days.
A few years later, one night I was driving home on empty roads. As I was standing at the traffic light, a large Mercedes approached me. The driver, Sheikh Zayed, along with Sheikh Tahnu bin Mohammed, was roaming around the city on a journey. A visionary leader who will never forget his desire to keep a close eye on his progress.
Dubai World Trade Center’s memories of driving to Dubai soon after the opening of the then Vice President Sheikh Rashid and visiting British Queen Elizabeth. Beyond the old border checkpoint, the long stretch beyond the recently constructed Jebel Ali port is a bit of a desert on either side, far away, until the mall is visible. At the time, it looked like a huge suburb. Today, Sheikh Zayed Road is filled with skyscrapers, ten miles[10 km]to Jebel Ali and Jabir. How time flies!
A.D. In 1978 my father came to visit a gardener and gardener, who wrote an amazing experiment on the desert island of Sadiyat, growing vegetables in a plastic greenhouse. Today, I think the magnificent Cranling School campus does not take place and there is no desert island.
That same year I went to Fujaira with a BBC journalist. He told Fujairah ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed al-Sharqi that although there was clear evidence of progress, Fujairah was behind the big cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“Let’s meet again in 20 years,” said Sheikh Hamad.
The journalist did not, but I continued to be a regular visitor to Fujaira. A few years ago, I commented to Sheikh Hamad on how much Fujairah has changed and how much progress has been made.
“What do you think I have been doing for the last 45 years?” he said.
On the east coast of the United Arab Emirates, as well as on the Gulf of Aden, the country is developing as it is developing, often without fans.
A.D. A few months before the OPEC conference in Abu Dhabi in 1978, until the opening of Expo 2020 in Dubai, there were major events that attracted international attention. The world’s largest man-made port, as seen from space, and the world’s tallest buildings have been built. In some ways, the Emirate has become the dominant country.
But for some of us, the memories we have seen most or all of us over the past 50 years are less wonderful, more personal.
I remember being proud to see the first graduation photos of the country’s first higher education institution at the United Arab Emirates.
I remember when and where I first saw Sheikh Zayed playing the UAE national anthem when I had the opportunity to join him on an overseas tour. I never thought it would be a song then.
And I have seen the changes that have taken place, the progress that has been made, the dramatic changes that have taken place, in a calm, peaceful and calm manner.
Fifty years ago, a few outside the Emirates believed that this undivided, largely undeveloped Shechem would survive, prosper. He did so through the determination and determination of Sheikh Zayed and his colleagues, as well as the efforts of those who inspired and followed his leadership and followed in his footsteps.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates, I am proud to play my part in a very small way.
Published on Dec. 1, 2021, 9 p.m.