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A Tribute to

HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE, on completing 60 Golden Years of Rule, becoming the 2nd longest reigning Ruler in the world. 1

The Management, Employees, and Registered Companies of RAK Free Trade Zone


His Highness Sheikh Saqr Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi Member of the Supreme Council - Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and

His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah

on 60 years as Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah

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Credits Publisher & Managing Director Sankarnarayanan Managing Editor K Raveendran Director Finance Anandi Ramachandran General Manager ( Sales and Marketing) Radhika Natu Product Manager Vijay Ganga Editor Manju Ramanan Contributing Editor Linda Benbow Desk Editor Vanit Sethi Creative Director Harikumar PB Design Ujwala Ranade Photographs Ali Omar, Sagar Ibrahim Hameed Accounts Biju Vargese Production Supervisor Saleem KV Loft Office 2, G 01, Dubai Media City P.O. Box 500595, Dubai, UAE. Website: Email: India: Anand Vardhan, DII/89, Pandara Road, New Delhi 110003. Bahrain: Suniz Publication W.L.L., P.O.Box. 2114, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain. Tel: 00973 17276682. Printing: Asiatic Printing Press L.L.C., PB 3522, Ajman, UAE. Tel: 06 743 4221. Fax: 06 743 4223., Email: Sterling Publications would like to thank the following people for their sincere support in the making of The Golden Tribute • Mr Saeed Lahha Al Shehhi • Mr Ali Omar • Ms Sheeba Nair • Mr KR Rajeev • The Juma Al Majid Centre for Culture and Heritage A TRIBUTE SERIES



Years of Philanthropy

The Department of Economic Development in Ras Al Khaimah would like to extend its congratulations to His Highness Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi Member of Supreme Council and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his accession

Golden Rule

A Living Legend The longest reigning ruler in the Middle East, HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi has completed 60 years of rule and is the pride of the UAE

By Manju Ramanan

Compassion, Benevolence and Simplicity A fearless mind ignited with the power of knowledge, a benevolent heart compassionate to the rich and the poor, a generous spirit that worked tirelessly for the welfare of all his people, a visionary leader who is revered fondly as a father by all, Sheikh Saqr has touched many generations by the virtue of his modesty, simplicity and selflessness. When he met tribal leaders, he was one of them and even spoke their dialects. He has never been a figure of totalitarian authority. Extremely approachable, he speaks less, listens more, and is known for his kindness. A people’s ruler, Sheikh Saqr is truly enthroned in the hearts of the people of Ras Al Khaimah. He is largely respected for his simplicity and modesty, and as you read about him in various parts of the book, impressions of his benevolence shine through. Well respected and loved by all, his legacy continues through his illustrious son HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown


HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah

With the late HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai

With the late HH Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al Mulla, Ruler of Umm Al Quwain

The late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi was a close friend

In 1972, Ras Al Khaimah joined the federation of the UAE


With HH Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Ruler of Ajman, and HH Sheikh Zayed


With HH Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, the Ruler of Fujairah

HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi with HH Sheikh Saqr and HH Sheikh Saud

Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. The book is a tribute to the grand Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and one of the founding fathers of the UAE, who shared several important moments with the country’s legendary leaders like the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and the late HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Perhaps an incident that happened at his majlis in the Ras Al Khaimah desert talks best about his personality. Unnoticed to the motley crowd assembled there, a venomous scorpion had crept into the tent. Its stealth, however, did not quite escape Sheikh Saqr’s sharp eye. To contain the mayhem that might have ensued, he quietly stepped on it and held it under his foot, till the entire proceedings of the day got over.

Unifying the Emirate Sheikh Saqr is the longest reigning Ruler in the Middle East (running his 61st year) and second longest reigning Ruler in the world, next only to the King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, followed by Queen Elizabeth of England. However, his greatness does not merely lie in the number of years of rule, but in his benevolent reign that is completely dedicated to the people of his emirate. For a man who was just 23 years old when he came to power in 1948, the young and raring to go Sheikh Saqr created an emirate out of several tribes scattered over its regions, by engaging in Sheikh Saqr unified the scattered tribes spread over various regions of Ras Al Khaimah and created the emirate


Sheikh Saqr was just 23 years old when he came to power

Sheikh Saqr visited several countries. Seen here with various delegates


Sheikh Saqr with the royal entourage

counsel with them, solving their problems and understanding their woes. Eye-witnesses recall him quieten two heavily armed warring tribes with the power of his advice and judgement. However, the tougher side of Sheikh Saqr is well balanced with a soft, gentler side. Fondly called Baba Saqr, an adage he thrives on, he shares a parent-child, teacher-student relationship with his people. Like a parent, he admonishes them so that they don’t falter. At the same time, he has great patience with them. He was always angry with them, not angry at them. He was enraged if he felt they were not striving hard enough to achieve their goal.

Sheikh Saqr is known to be a man of few words

Education for All Education has been Sheikh Saqr’s biggest achievement, not only for Ras Al Khaimah, but for the entire UAE. Several people interviewed for the book admit that their professional success today is because of Sheikh Saqr’s timely advice and admonishment when required. “He corrected me like a father would cor-



Tiny tots pose with Sheikh Saqr

Sheikh Saqr receiving children from Europe

Sheikh Saqr visiting a school and interacting with students

Children bring a great sense of joy to the Ruler

rect his child,” is a common refrain heard from several people, who spoke about his thrust on education. Way back in the 1950s, Sheikh Saqr insisted on educating all his people and there were schools right from Al Minai, to Masafi, from Sham to Bin Daher, Aden and Al Nakheel. His own bodyguards, who were known as the ‘school police’, got children to attend school and reported on

parents hesitant to enrol their children in schools. “He would tell the parents that if they desisted from sending their children to school, they would have to face imprisonment, and for children, a story of the dark dungeon in the palace was enough to set them ‘running to school’. Today, a large section of people from Ras Al Khaimah are em-

The royal signature

Aboard a British vessel

ployed in various top positions in the federal government, and are counted among the most educated people in the UAE. This is because Sheikh Saqr made sure that when the federation was formed, the people in the mountains and villages of his emirate got the same educational facilities as those in the cities.

the world over to RAK, establish industries, settle there, create employment for his people, and profit in business as well. Today, Ras Al Khaimah has three free trade zones -two represented by RAKIA (Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority at Al Hamra and Al Ghail) and one RAKFTZ (RAK Free Trade Zone at Al Nakheel), both of which are instrumental for getting investment into the emirate. One of RAK’s success stories is RAK Ceramics, the world’s largest manufacturer of ceramic tiles, that has entered into management curricula as a success story. Further, the emirate has been voted as the Middle East’s Most Attractive Investment Destination. All fulfilling Sheikh Saqr’s vision about his emirate.

Foresight for Free Zones A practical foresighted ruler, Sheikh Saqr knew that oil was not his emirate’s strong point and identified its strengths. He saw that its natural resources, mountains, ports and fertile soil would be suited for certain kinds of industries only and that would not be enough. He envisioned that people would come from


Sheik Saqr with his brother Sheikh Kayed bin Mohammed Al Qasimi (seated third from left)


But much before the free zone era, Sheikh Saqr had already established the first agricultural research station in the UAE, the region’s first pharmaceutical company, Julphar, and the Union Cement industry, after it was discovered that the Hajjar Mountains had rich deposits of limestone. Also, several industries in RAK are located near its ports, and the emirate’s several waterways allow freight to be shipped to different parts of the world, which became a natural advantage to its industry. Sheikh Saqr developed several ports that include Saqr Port and RAK Port.

brought into the city using donkeys and distributed to people assembled near the area adjacent to the Bruce Lee Building. Security has been prime for Sheikh Saqr, who is strict with offenders yet retained a softer side to them. People recall him advising errant drivers to drive carefully. Once, a young boy was caught speeding and brought to the police station and detained overnight. But when his distraught mother appealed to Sheikh Saqr, the kind-hearted Ruler summoned the youth and handed him over to her, with a good word of advice.

My People, My Family

Pioneering Legal Reform

Providing for a diverse population that includes all nationalities is a huge responsibility. It means giving the people the comfort of a home where they can work and live a good quality of life, providing them security as well as superior infrastructural facilities - good roads, medical facilities, schools and hospitals. In all these aspects Sheikh Saqr never faltered. Before water came to the emirate, people recall how fresh water from the mountains was

Sheikh Saqr’s entourage of legal advisors and consultants have been active in bringing to RAK pioneering progressive policies. The judicial court at RAK is independent of the state. As far as decrees and laws are concerned, RAK has had some pioneering laws in the UAE – it was the first emirate to have laws for vehicle insurance or for trademark registrations – all due to the progressive vision of Sheikh Saqr.

Sheikh Saqr with the Imam of Mecca

Sheikh Saqr with various tribal leaders

Sheikh Saqr with UAE envoys from various countries


Sheikh Saqr meets former British PM Margaret Thatcher

Receiving foreign dignitaries and delegations


HH Sheikh Saqr with HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Ruler of Qatar

Sheikh Saqr with the Omani ambassador to the UAE

Receiving a British naval officer

Sheikh Saqr and Sheikh Faisal with the Anglican Bishop

Living Healthy

observing how his people lived and worked. A policeman recalls how, after an accident, when he was admitted to the hospital, he opened his eyes and saw Sheikh Saqr standing near his bed. That is the level of personal interest he took in his people. No wonder then, Ras Al Khaimah has government as well as private

Health is another sector that has received patronage from Sheikh Saqr. A disciplinarian himself, he walks for an hour every day and is an early riser. People remember him touring the emirate in the wee hours of the morning, unaccompanied by bodyguards,


hospitals in the same vicinity for people from all walks of life. So, a Saqr Hospital that operates under the Federal Ministry of Health is located next to the RAK Hospital, a collaboration between the Government of RAK and the ETA group. In fact, Ras Al Khaimah is actively promoting medical tourism since it is aptly located amidst mountains, valleys, deserts and the sea.

Switzerland-like RAK

Sheikh Saqr cuts a cake on the UAE National Day

Sheikh Saqr built the first hotel of the emirate, the Ras Al Khaimah Hotel, over 40 years ago. In fact, several current patrons of the hotel associate their childhood vacations with the hotel. The hotel had the region’s first gaming zone too. The Bin Majid Resort came next, followed by several others like The Hilton, New Hilton Beach Club, Al Hamra Hotel, The Cove - Rotana, Acacia Hotels et al, catering to different segments of the tourist population. It is known that Sheikh Saqr, quite impressed by Switzerland, wants to develop RAK on the same lines with world class hospitality and infrastructure.

Culture Confident Without the past, there is no future, and Sheikh Saqr has been keen on preserving RAK’s rich past that dates back several centuries when it was called Julphar. Ras Al Khaimah has several museums that include the National Museum and several personal museums as well. One of the museums is dedicated to the life of seafarer Ahmed bin Majid who hailed from Julphar - the old name of Ras Al Khaimah. Sheikh Saqr and Sheikh Saud at an art exhibition


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Golden Moments

HH Sheikh Saqr with HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah


Golden Moments

Unsurpassed Commitment “For my father, the emirate is his day, his night, his family, his work,… in short, his entire life”

By Manju Ramanan


n the tastefully decorated majlis filled with old paintings of the region and some rare photographs of the royal family, we meet HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, who has completed his sixth year of accession. Sheikh Saud, by his business acumen and benevolent rule has been responsible for putting Ras Al Khaimah firmly on the world investor’s map. He talks fondly about his father, the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, who has also been his mentor and guide.


HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah

A Disciplined Life Makes a Difference ‌ Most people are about 99 per cent similar to each other. We are all nearly alike. But there is that one percent that makes people stand apart and that makes all the difference. My father’s discipline and foresight sets him apart from the common rung of men. People are not like a suit we can design and copy, and people like my father are hard to replicate. They are merely different because of their unique attributes and attitudes to life. To me, my father represents the virtues of discipline and punctuality. I have seen him living in that style everyday since I was little. No one tells you to be punctual or disciplined, but when you see your father practising all his life, you learn from example. Have you seen someone who never gets upset with you? Some people are angry with people for a lifetime. They are angry all their lives. Not my father. He is a forgiving person. He is never angry with you, he is angry for you. His anger stems from the fact that he wants people to be better and realise their best potential. Also, he cannot stay angry or upset for long. After some time, he will seek you out and meet you. That is his attribute of forgiveness. I am not talking personally, but that is the way he is with everyone.

Sheikh Saud as a young boy

He is angry for you, never angry with you. His anger shows his concern and love A young Sheikh Saud accompanying Sheikh Saqr in one of his trips


Commitment and Devotion My father rises early and plunges himself into work. He is extremely compassionate with people. When someone comes over to see him and stays for five minutes more than his allotted time, my father would spend more time with him. He always feels that people wouldn’t come to see him if they didn’t need him and so, spends more time with them to reassure them. That way, he has hardly any personal life and has been completely devoted to his emirate and its people. From morning to evening, I have seen him be with people, meeting them, listening to them, solving their problems - he is very accessible. He engages with people. He shares their lives. He has diabetes, but that has never stopped him to meet up with people. Also, he has a great memory,-about history, families in the emirate, regions, fathers, grandfathers et al, and can trace out a person’s tribe, his lineage etc. The emirate is his day, night, short, his life.

Teachers are Models of Change


My father values education and that is the reason he respects teachers. By showing respect to them, he motivates them and that is how he gets others to respect them as well. He believes that teachers are models of change. He is involved with the students by being constantly involved with the teachers. Of course, he has had a great capacity of follow-ups because he knows, for success you need to have follow-ups. While someone is graduating, in school etc, he would ask about the child’s progress and encourage him/her to work harder, because he knows that sometimes, an appreciative question or a gesture makes a difference to a child’s motivation.

Fear None! His personality and foresight has influenced my life. I have learnt from him to value education, be tolerant to people, respect everybody and fear none. My father believes that you need to have courage with wisdom but wisdom without fear. A fact that has inspired me all my life.

Silence Speaks a Million Words I have had several special moments with my father but the ones without words are the ones I remember and cherish the most. I have realised that even in his silence, he was speaking to me in stronger words. His emotions are quiet. He may have never told me how much he loves me, but I have realised that he always spoke to me through his silence. Words are only symbols, I have realised. Or words are much stronger language, but the silence emanating out of unspoken words is the strongest. I can feel his love; I can feel his personality all the time. But then, I have learnt something else too. Every time I am with him or without him, I feel him, I feel his presence. That is my equation with him.

A young Sheikh Saud with his father, attending an official event

“His personality has influenced my life�


HH Sheikh Saqr with his sons HH Sheikh Saud , Sheikh Faisal, Sheikh Omar and Sheikh Ahmed at Eid prayers

‘Value education, respect everybody, show compassion and tolerance and fear none’ are my father’s words that have influenced my life

Jet lagged? Who? His attitude to travel is another instance that makes him extremely special. He would go to America, to Europe, come back home to Ras Al Khaimah, but would never suffer jet lag. For all the problems he has endured, he has such a clear conscience that he has peaceful sleep. He has tremendous peace within himself and doesn’t need peace from outside.


Duty is First For me, to become a son of a Ruler is a great responsibility, a great duty that I have to fulfil, respect, live with and make myself a part of. You can take things for granted if you are not from the ruling family, but if you are the son of a ruler, you have to do things because of your position. My father always told me, I have to respect and perform my duties ‘because they come first, not you’.

Challenges Make you Better I was once in Saudi Arabia accompanying my father for the pilgrimage and the late King Faisal was also present. I was very young, about 13 years old, and suddenly, out of the blue, my father asked me give a speech. I was speechless and shocked, “What am I going to say,” I thought. Then King Faisal said, “I did the same thing at your age! So, do it.” It was a great moment of stress. I had no choice but to speak. I recall thinking, ‘what prompted my father to just ask me to speak to an audience?’ I later realised that he knew better. He knew that challenges make you better, they don’t hurt you. It was really tough, but I made that speech.

Dreams Unlimited My father has a dream that his country will have home-bred scientists, doctors, engineers; he will see world class industries, hospitals, hotels and world class infrastructure. He wants his people to succeed. It is like this. If you have a son and daughter, you love them blindly. You wish the best for them, not because you hate others, but because of your love for your own people. My father wants people of the Emirate to succeed. We have to keep the UAE ahead in every sphere.

A Ruler is a Father What is a ruler’s duty except to deliver? A ruler is responsible for all the people of his emirate and to make a positive difference to them. He is a father and a teacher. He teaches people how to be honest, how to be a good human being, how to be great men and women – to realise their best potential. Sheikh Saqr is a father to the emirate and a teacher to us all


Golden Moments

People Come First “Sheikh Saqr asked his people if they wanted to be a part of the UAE Federation or function as an independent country. Based on their consensus for unification, he joined the Federation. It was almost electoral”


y memories of my father are divided into two sections – my interaction with him as a son and as an employee in his government. When I was 7-8 years old, I was sitting in his majlis while he was presiding over a land dispute. There were two groups of the same tribe who had a issue over land and they were seated in two separate rows. An elderly man from the end of the first row, who, perhaps, more agitated than the rest, unleashed his sword and ran to strike my father but was overpowered by his own tribesmen. While most of us in the majlis were shocked, all along, I saw my father unperturbed. He sat where he was and didn’t move from his Sheikh Mohammed bin Saqr Al Qasimi Former Minister of UAE Supreme Council Affairs


place. While most of us thought he would imprison the man for his misconduct, Sheikh Saqr simply pardoned him, because he always believes power has to be used in the right place. Ruling Ras Al Khimah, which has a host of tribes each different than the other, would need a special way of governance, and my father had the acumen. He believes that being a Ruler is a power bestowed upon him by God and that is why, it has to be used correctly. After I completed my studies in Philosophy from the Cairo University, I joined the Courts Department in Ras Al Khaimah in 1979. Unlike other departments that usually deal with locals, the courts deal with a cross-section of people of all nationalities. My father always taught me to keep my cool, be silent and be impartial while imparting judgement. He told me, “Many people will cry but their tears could be false, many people laugh but they needn’t necessarily be happy. Close your eyes to the person’s age, nationality, gender, colour or religion. We must discover

who is right and who is wrong.” However, he was extremely judicious too. Once, an expatriate child, who had been abroad for studies, was returning home to Ras Al Khaimah when his parents realised his visa had expired. It was 2am in the night and the family came knocking on Sheikh Saqr’s door. He was up and solved the problem immediately. His involvement in the emirate’s welfare is so intense that he is loved and revered by all his people. In times of crisis, people have travelled down from the mountains and deserts to safeguard him. When there was word about the Federation, he addressed his people in an open majlis. I was there too, and I remember there were hundreds of people, from all strata and vocations who had assembled there. He asked them if they would consent that Ras Al Khaimah join the Federation, and asked Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Humaid Al Qasimi, to count the number of hands that went up. When there was a majority, he consented that RAK join the Federation. It was nearly electoral.


Golden Moments

The Perfect Icon “My father never gave us advice. He lived his life as an example and we followed”


am blessed to be living my life with my father and my mother all through my school, high school, work and later life. I have had them beside me and that is indeed a blessing. I have great admiration for my father’s wisdom that he led the emirate to what we all see today. Though he did not receive very high education, he has a vision that very few people have. He understands the importance of knowledge and wisdom, and all our achievements are due to that vision. Sheikh Saqr has lived his life as an example and we have just followed him. I have learnt immensely from his commitment and devotion to work and treatment of his people and his family Sheikh Omar bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman, RAK Ruler’s Private Affairs Department


One of Sheikh Saqr’s remarkable qualities is that he never carries a negative vibe about people in his heart

members. He believes in the future of the country and his simplicity of approach has been one of his stellar qualities. His office was open day and night and he has had time for everybody. He is busy all day and sleeps like a child at night. One of his remarkable qualities is that he never carries negative vibes about people in his heart. If he disagrees with you today, he will not carry any displeasure to the next day but start on a new note again. He never made us feel that we were different from the other people of the emirate. He didn’t want us to feel that we were different. Regarding education, he always encouraged us to go to school. He sent us to England to learn English

and America to go to university. No amount of praise will do justice to what he has done. Because, in today’s world, if you don’t know English, you would lack a lot of things. My father never gave me advice. He would never tell me what to do. He would do it himself and we would learn it naturally from him. My first trip with him was to Lebanon and Iran. I was in my teens and Tehran, at that time, was what Paris is today. I was travelling for the first time and was heavily family dependent. The trip opened my eyes to the world and broadened my perspective. He taught me that travelling to another country can be a chapter in learning about yourself.

HH Sheikh Saqr and HH Sheikh Saud along with Sheikh Omar and Sheikh Faisal during a celebration


Golden Moments

Epitome of Discipline “I am told that I resemble my father. Even my hands are shaped like his. But if I achieved even one per cent of what he did, my life will be worthwhile”


used to be an army officer and joined the police department in 1995. Everyday at sharp 7: 15 am, I used to get a call from my father inquiring about what was going on. Some cases would have come to him in the night and I wouldn’t have known about them. He would tell me about them and urge me to take action since he has been ever concerned for his people, be it day or midnight! I remember once a young boy was arrested for rash driving and we had detained him in the police station overnight. The following morning, his mother appealed to Sheikh Saqr to free him when she met him after his morning prayers. He called me immediately and asked me to release the boy and bring him to the Diwan office. He wanted to hand over the boy to the mother. At another instance, there was a drugs case and the police officer in charge was in the middle of a crackdown. It was midnight but not for my father. His voice loomed large over the walkie talkie asking the police officer what he needed for his operation. We couldn’t help but marvel at his tenacity. The operation was very successful and Sheikh Saqr invited the man to the Diwan Sheikh Talib bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Director General of Police, RAK


and showered him with gifts for his bravery. This incident is but a glimpse of his involvement with his people. He treats everyone in Ras Al Khaimah as his own children. All his children were treated no differently from the people of the emirate. No one is above the law for him. He is hard and he is soft. To be his son, you had to be extremely straightforward and disciplined. As children, all of us wanted to do things behind his back, but we were very scared of making mistakes because he would treat us like he would treat everyone else. We wouldn’t be spared because we were his children. His generosity is legendary. He believes that what he has got is not for him but for his people, his country. And that extends to all the people of his emirate, both nationals and non-nationals. Once there was a young expatriate girl who wanted to marry an old Arab man. Sheikh Saqr was concerned for her and counselled her to marry someone her age and not the old man. He advised her like he would advise his daughter. He acted like her guardian and told her that she shouldn’t marry someone because he could be her sponsor. He is extremely concerned about his people.

Sheikh Talib with Sheikh Saqr

HH Sheikh Saud with Sheikh Talib


Golden Moments

Time is Sacrosanct “My father is a clock man. Everything has to be done on time, regardless of what is happening around.�


y father respects time. He is precise, to the point and extremely disciplined about his timings. The reason he is always calm even in the most trying circumstances. He adapts very quickly and shelves everything very well in his mind. So, whenever he enters his home, he is always at peace. My mother always told me that whenever she narrated a troubled story to him, it hardly affected his sleep, he would sleep normally. That was his unique sense of equanimity. An early bird, he walks an hour every morning and likes sports. He is fond of local delicacies with fish being a favourite,


Sheikh Faisal bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of RAK Finance Department and RAK Free Trade Zone

My mother tells me that whenever she narrated a troubled story to him, it hardly affected his sleep, he would sleep normally. That was his unique sense of equanimity

RAK Free Trade Zone at Al Nakheel

Since RAK didn’t have oil, Sheikh Saqr was keen that we diversified into free trade zones, industries and tourism. A vision that is seeing its prime today and doesn’t like foreign food too much. He loves dates but resists them now due to health reasons. I have fond memories around breakfast and lunch with my father and revel and cherish the family closeness we share. Also, I am forever amazed at my father’s knowledge of history. If he met a local person and knew his first name, he would know whether his ancestor was loyal to the Al Qasimi family or not. His vast local knowledge comes from his hunting trips to Oman and Qatar, during which he stayed

with several Bedouin tribes. A man who believes in the good future of every human being, Sheikh Saqr has a high degree of self-esteem and is proud of his people. He believes in the unity of the Arab nations and for him, the formation of the UAE is a step forward in that direction. He is a person who gives people lots of chances and never closes on them. From the 70s, he started to travel mostly to England, and I



Tower Links Golf Course

The New Hilton Beach Club

accompanied him in his various trips. He always took his chefs with him, and there too, he received people and was surrounded by them. Once, we were having lunch with the late HH Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, and a Swiss national pointed out that ‘Your country has a lot of oil. My father said he didn’t want to go after oil. He wanted his country to be like Switzerland with premium hospitality, medical facilities and infrastructure. A fact that he pursued, and hence Ras Al Khaimah focuses on its free zones and the tourism industry. Sheikh Saqr diversified into industry and created some of Ras al Khaimah’s pioneering factories. The Hajjar mountains are rich in limestone, so the cement factories were established, and

then his advisors told him healthcare would be the future and he started Gulf Pharmaceuticals Industries (Julphar) with German technology. It took a long time to develop, and today, 90 per cent of its products are exported. As for the Free Trade Zone, he called me one day and mentioned Jebel Ali, asked me to set up a similar facility in Ras Al Khaimah since there was an opportunity to attract investment. Today, RAK FTZ is a success. To further his aim to promote tourism, he started the Ras Al Khaimah Hotel a few decades ago, that had the region’s first gaming zone. Today, apart from other hotels, RAK has the New Hilton Beach Club, a mixed-use development that has villas, apart from the hotel. Towards the other side, we also have the


The Hilton, Ras Al Khaimah

In the 60s and 70s, there were several palm trees in Ras al Khaimah right from the mountains to the Kharran area since water was abundant here. In fact, fresh water was shipped from the Sham area in Ras Al Khaimah to Abu Dhabi

Tower Links Golf Course. I believe that golf matches the climate of RAK. With its mangroves, trees and mountains, the game blossoms beautifully. In RAK, with its pristine surroundings and natural ambience, people are discovering what our ancestors enjoyed in their times - peace within. That’s the reason many people have moved here since their mind is at peace and they can work better.


Golden Moments

The Power of Simplicity A grandson fondly remembers the Ruler, his grandfather, for his simplicity, that was his greatness

HE Sheikh Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman RAK Civil Aviation

By Manju Ramanan


he two warring tribes at Al Monai (a mountainous region located on the border of Ras Al Khaimah and Oman) were fuming with anger. They had a dispute over land and Sheikh Saqr sat in the middle trying to reason out a solution with them. This was 25 years ago and I, a boy under 10 years of age, had accompanied him to the region. I watched with bated breath on what would happen, since Sheikh Saqr didn’t surround himself with his bodyguards. After listening patiently to each side, he briefly left the majlis, to come back with a solution. The two tribes agreed and the issue was resolved without any major action. I marvelled at the power of his counsel and persuasion and that he was very patient with his people and like


a father to them. The incident, like several others, left an indelible mark on me. A royal family background always works to your advantage but Sheikh Saqr wanted all of us to be like everyone else in the emirate. It is well known that he is very keen that every boy and girl get educated. I remember a story told to me that seals this fact. Sheikh Saqr’s residence was where the museum is today. Sheikh Saqr regularly sent his messengers to inquire on how many children lived in a certain area and details about the child’s age, gender etc. At that time, people were poor, and trading, pearl diving and farming were the general occupations. There was a boy called Salem whose father wanted him to stay

Sheikh Saqr surrounded by his grandchildren

Some precious snapshots of Sheikh Saqr and Sheikh Salem from his personal collection

away from school and assist him at work instead. So, he asked the child to lie to Sheikh Saqr’s men, who would come inquiring about his absence at school. Salem was asked to say that he was not interested in school since he was keen on helping his father. The boy did as he was told. So, Sheikh Saqr summoned both of them and questioned them. After hearing their cases, he told the father that if he wanted to keep his son away from school, he would have to go to jail. And he told the son that if he wanted to skip school, he would be put in a dark room in the palace. The dark room was well known to all children in the emirate. It was an old dungeon that was rat-infested and had no light coming in. Naturally, the boy agreed to go to school. He did well in his studies, went to Kuwait for higher education, and rose in rank,

to become the Finance Undersecretary of the UAE, and then an employee of one of the prestigious banks. Sheikh Saqr also cared about the well-being of teachers. One of the first teachers was Mr Abdul Sherali. Sheikh Saqr would ask him whether he had enough food at home. His constant advice to him was, “Teach my people, never accept their faults”. When I was leaving for Houston for my higher studies, I went to meet him and he said, “Don’t come back without earning a degree and remember that you are watched by God.” He had come to Houston for a medical check-up and I went to see him in his hotel. It was a huge suite that had many of his people seated in chairs in the front side. But he and my father were sitting on the floor and my father was cutting his toe nails. That is his simplicity.



HH Sheikh Saqr with HH Sheikh Humaid Al Nuaimi, Ruler of Ajman and Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE, and Sheikh Salem as a young boy

Sheikh Salem sits between two of his grandfathers, Sheikh Saqr and his elder brother Sheikh Kayed bin Mohammed Al Qasimi

One of the lesser known facts about Sheikh Saqr is that he is extremely keen on protecting palm trees. He passed a law forbidding people from cutting trees without approval from the Municipality. He is especially keen to protect the Ghaf trees, that are symbolic to the UAE and grown plentifully in RAK. They are ideal for wood and fire but he forbids their felling since he wants his emirate to be green. The Samer trees that are excellent for honey are also under his protection. Bees collect honey from the flowers of the Samer trees and the honey is of high quality. Sheikh Saqr is very fond of dates and loves camel milk as he is keen on agriculture in the emirate. He owns hundreds of camels and is keen on camel racing as well. He is extremely supportive of cultural events and events of national identity. Till his health could permit, he attended all weddings and funerals and was always at the majlis. He even patrolled his emirate after his morning prayers without the bodyguards, often walking alone,

between houses, observing if people were happy, were working or had any problems. He was completely involved in their lives. Sheikh Saqr took courage in fighting the evils of society such as corruption and adultery, and vouched for a safe, clean emirate. A man who has always slept for shorter hours, he followed an impeccable regimen of discipline that included prayers at regular intervals and spending time in the majlis around his people. It is impossible to outwit him. Even if he knew that people were lying, he would keep the knowledge to himself and not embarrass the person. He is extremely well-mannered and gives people their due respect. These are two things he is extremely strict about, both within his family and within his people. That is the reason he welcomed expatriates to his emirate with great love. He helped communities organise their clubs. That is why there are Indian, Jordanian and Pakistani clubs in Ras Al Khaimah from a long time.

Sheikh Salem greets Sheikh Saqr

A bond to cherish, Sheikh Salem is extremely close to Sheikh Saqr


Golden Moments

A rare quality of self-clarity “We were returning from London in HH Sheikh Saqr’s private plane and it was time for our prayers. Sheikh Saqr prayed in congregation in the plane, and was the Imam”


HH Sheikh Faisal bin Humaid Al Qasimi, Director, Ruler’s Court


heikh Saqr has many aspects to his stellar personality. But outstanding among them are his strong belief in God and his great faith in his religion. That belief makes him honest and sincere in his work and endows upon him a great amount of self-clarity. He has tremendous tolerance and courage in decision-making, and above all, wisdom. He is extremely tolerant of people, is strongly connected to them and does not distinguish between citizens and non-ciizens. I learnt from Sheikh Saqr, what it really means to work for your people. Once we were leaving the Ruler’s Court at 1.30pm, after the completion of our working hours, when an old man stood in front of Sheikh Saqr’s car. He had a problem and wanted an urgent solution to it. At Sheikh Saqr’s insistence, we went back to his office to solve the problem. Sheikh Saqr is extremely methodical and gives discipline top priority. Once, we were returning from London in his private plane, when it was time for our prayers. Sheikh Saqr was keen to pray in congregation in the plane, and he was the Imam.




n the centuries past, here in our region, history has seen many rulers, some great, some not so great. If I were to rank H.H. Sheikh Saqr, I would most definitely rank him among the greats. He has the gift of being a visionary, politically astute, humane, down-to-earth, aggressively protective about his people, their culture and his country, wise in his decisions, strong in his beliefs, generous in nature and ruthless in execution. They say leaders are born and not created. HH Sheikh Saqr is a shining example of a natural born leader. A strong believer in family values, he has always been warm and open with his family and friends, thoroughly enjoying the company of his grandchildren. A hard working man, he has never faltered in dedicating himself without concern for himself as he plunged into matters of the State. At the grass-roots level, he was in touch with the people and was conscious of their problems and needs. No one can deny that he did the best he could for his people. Universally respected as a key anchor of the United Arab Emirates, he has earned himself an enviable reputation among the rulers and leaders of the region. In my personal interactions with him over the years, I found him to be a fascinating person with a rich repertoire of interesting stories, anecdotes and tales from history ,which not only entertained, but enriched my knowledge. Despite the aura that surrounds him, I found him a simple man at heart, seeking simple pleasures from his day-to-day life, living life and facing it courageously. Sheikh Tariq Al Qasimi


Golden Moments

A True Visionary “If it wasn’t for Sheikh Saqr, we would have had 10 emirates instead of seven” By Linda Benbow


he portrayal of leaders in the media keeps them fresh in public memory and conscience. Their benevolent deeds are reiterated through print, radio, film and text and people immortalise them in memory. In that way, the portrayal of HH Sheikh Saqr, has been very meagre in the media, though his contribution to the UAE has been phenomenal. His first and foremost quality was that he was a father to his people and that is how people used to respond to him. He admonished them when they were wrong and supported them when they had problems. He treated his people, his children and his family in the same manner. Sheikh Saqr is the real founder of Ras Al Khaimah. When he took over, he first unified the scattered tribes. Ras Al Khaimah, at that time, wasn’t the emirate we know today. It was only a small city that had several tribes living in its peripheries. Sheikh Saqr had to go through treaties and wars to combine them. Otherwise, we would have had10 emirates instead of seven. During the period of his rule, he closed the borders of Ras Al Khaimah, clearly defining its territory. The borders were not defined even when the British were here. Sheikh Saqr transformed Ras Al Khaimah from a tribal leadership to an organisation managed by governmental departments like the Economics Department, Ports and Customs, Municipality etc. Before that, it was only a tribal ruling. Sheikh Saqr brought the tribes under his umbrella and governed them in a systematic manner. The Chamber of Commerce, for instance,

Sheikh Tariq bin Kayed Al Qasimi - Former Chairman of Civil Aviation Department and nephew of Sheikh Saqr

was established even before the UAE was formed, though the system was formed much later. One more contribution for which Sheikh Saqr wasn’t given his due was that he is one of the key founders of the UAE. With leaders like the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE; and HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, former Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Saqr was one of the four people who formed the bylaws of the country and that each emirate would have its own system and income, though they all would be part of the Federal Government. Sheikh Saqr was part of that change. Of course, one of his biggest achievements is that he paid a lot of attention to education – the first school and the first university in Ras Al Khaimah, built by him, are stellar examples.

During the period of his rule, Sheikh Saqr closed the borders of Ras Al Khaimah, clearly defining its territory. This was a good move



One with his people “A flourishing emirate with prosperous people has been Sheikh Saqr’s mission”

Juma Al Majid, Founder and Chairman of Juma Al Majid Group of Industries

“S 50

heikh Saqr knows each bedouin by name, family and location. He travelled extensively in this region and has been regularly in touch with them. He also remembers most people he meets thanks to his sharp memory. Also because he is completely involved with them,” says Juma Al Majid, Dubai’s veteran businessman, founder and chairman of the Juma Al Majid Group of Industries that has diverse business interests. Majid is closely related to Sheikh Saqr. His wife is Sheikh Saqr’s sister-in-law, and his daughter is married to HH

Sheikh Saud, Deputy Ruler and Crown Prince. Ask him what are the qualities of Sheikh Saqr he admires the most? “He unified the emirate that was diverse in geography. People came from different regions and spoke different dialects. Also, his role in the unification of the UAE is a very significant achievement,” he states. “When the Federation was formed, part of the Ruler’s power went to the people of the emirate. It was the Ruler’s benevolence and vision that he put his people’s interest over his own.” “Sheikh Saqr has always been concerned about his people’s prosperity. He has been a ruler who lived for his people. He is large hearted and kind and has donated huge tracts of land to them. He believes that in their prosperity lies the prosperity of the emirate and the country,” adds Majid. One of Sheikh Saqr’s striking qualities is that he is very enterprising. “In the early years, he used to say that, I don’t have anything but the mountains. But then, he brought a Dutch Company to quarry limestone and established cement plants. This was followed by a number of other companies established under his leadership.”


The Future is Now “Sheikh Saqr advised us to love our country and work for its development at all costs�

bin Humaid Al Qasimi to establish the RAK Municipality. It was established by the end of 1959. In its early years, its work was limited because it was responsible for determining ownerships

HE Mubarak Ali Al Shamsi, Chairman, RAK Municipality


When was the Ras Al Khaimah Municipality established and what are its highlights?


HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE, issued an Emiri decree in which he entrusted Sheikh Abdul Aziz

and working on public cleanliness. In the beginning of 1960, the Municipality distributed lands for agriculture, industrial and housing purposes, all of which was presented by the Ruler to his citizens. Soon, it began issuing regulations, legislations and laws related to trade, industry, agriculture, construction and housing. It should be noted that the Municipality, at that time, performed duties of other departments such as the Land Department, the Ports, and Traffic Department. Some of the duties that it performed were numbering houses and confirmation of ownerships. In the mid-1960s, the Municipality established its administrative, engineering, health, agricultural, and commercial licensing departments. By the beginning of 1970s, numerous regulations, as well as the RAK Municipality Law, was issued. It also witnessed a remarkable improvement since Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi took over as the Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah in 2003. Its office is completely computerised, it has been involved with creating roads, lighting them, managing markets, building modern monuments and universities and also overseeing the

emirate’s industrial, agricultural, and commercial activities. The Municipality is about to complete a big project titled: The New System of Electronic Maps of Ownerships. It will be completed after the latest aerial maps of the emirate are received.


What has been the Municipality’s association with HH Sheikh Saqr and how has he influenced its work over the years? The Municipality, according to the administrative system followed in the UAE, is responsible for executing missions and duties regarding health, environment, engineering, media, promotional and recreational sectors. These duties would not have succeeded and developed had it not been for the wise and visionary directions of Sheikh Saqr. He has continuously taught us that staying steady does not reflect any development, but working continuously for the better, is success. Through his vision and wisdom, His Highness has been issuing progressive decrees and legislations to guide us.


What has been Your Excellency’s association with Sheikh Saqr and what are the aspects of his personality that have influenced you the most? HH Sheikh Saqr is a teacher, a wise and sympathising father, who is a great visionary and gives us unerring opinions and directions. We have learnt from him to be serious at work, be accomplished, look to the future optimistically, be patient, love people and appreciate their efforts, and to try our best to help them and stand by their side so that they get their rights. In addition, he taught us to love our country and work for its success at all costs, and he emphasised respecting people and appreciating other opinions even if they do not agree with ours. Sheikh Saqr is our role model in life, and the light which guides us in our work. We owe a great deal of our success to him.


In your association with Sheikh Saqr, what have been your most memorable moments?

Sheikh Saqr gave a patient ear to his citizens and solved their problems, and has been a great support to them in happiness and sorrow. He encouraged us to support those who are treated unfairly, and to spread knowledge and education among the citizens of Ras Al Khaimah. He has always been a supporter of unity in the UAE, so that it is counted among the civilised nations. The Islamic teachings, which are based on moderation, have made his great deeds the talk of the day, leading the emirate and the country to stability and prosperity. I remember his passion for taking opinions, his call for cooperation, and the trust that he grants us in order to work hard for the benefit of the emirate’s citizens.


What have been the Municipality’s recent activities at RAK?

One of our important activities was to build marketplaces for vegetables and use computerisation in our work so that it is compatible with the efforts of an electronic government which is supported by Sheikh Saud, who has a big hand in the achievements of the Municipality and its development. Some of our activities are regarding planning of lands and the new system of electronic maps of ownerships in addition to our new street naming project and other industrial, commercial, touristic and housing projects.


Tell us about your latest campaign with the changing of street names in Ras Al Khaimah

We do not mean to change the names of the streets, but we want to affix names to all the streets in the emirate with a scientific and accurate approach, so that the names of these crossings and closed streets are derived from our heritage, or from the bird world, or from the names of Arab scientists etc.




A short story of success “After HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi became the ruler in 1948, Ras Al Khaimah started to play a real and effective role in the political, economic and social activities of the region”



lobal warming, war, hurricanes, diseases, depressions, crises, booms and busts...are just different names and faces of one inevitable thing: CHANGE! Regardless of how bad or good change can be, it has been, for centuries, a critical test of the endurance of countries and the vision of leaders: how quickly they detect it, how well they respond and adapt to it, determine whether they will succeed and prosper or not. If you examine the course of history carefully, you will find that every period has been marked by a major change, such as World War I in 1914, the Great Depression in the 1930s, the oil crisis in the 1970s, and definitely the financial crisis today, which represents a real challenge, forcing governments all over the world to be proactive in order to cope with it. Some countries and governments succeeded; others did not. Among the successful governments is the Government of Ras Al Khaimah - the fourth biggest emirate in the UAE in terms of size. Succeeding in the Middle East is not a coincidence. It is a result of various external and internal factors combined to help the emirate grow and prosper, despite the instability of its environment. The most important external factor that contributed to the development of Ras Al Khaimah is the unity of the UAE. Coordinating in good times and cooperating in times of crises has been a source of power and stability for the emirate as well as the country. As for the internal factors, Ras Al Khaimah has been blessed

Dr Khater Massaad, Advisor to RAK Crown Prince and CEO of RAKIA

by a pool of expertise and wise leadership, working hand-inhand to improve the economic and social conditions of the emirate, which -- despite its strategic location and historical role as a gateway for sea trade -- was not very well-known in the region, 60 years ago. It was after H.H. Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi became the ruler in 1948 that Ras Al Khaimah -- previously known as ‘Julphar’ -- started to play a real and effective role in the political, economic and social activities of the region. Known for his wisdom and calm nature, His Highness under-

stood that Ras Al Khaimah could not grow and flourish singlehandedly in an unstable region; it needed a suitable cooperative environment to help it focus on its internal development. As a result, he decided to join the UAE Federation in 1972 as a first step towards the achievement of his comprehensive vision of economic and social development. For he saw in Ras Al Khaimah a place where the past and future can meet; a place which provides a perfect living environment for its citizens; a chapter of history, a paradise for tourists, and a business site for investors and businesspersons. At the dawn of the new millennium, the vision and developmental strategies moved to a more practical dimension. With the establishment of the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) in 2000, and with Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi holding the position of Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler in 2003, a chain of new improvements began. Projects, that aimed at making RAK an emirate with a strong diversified economy enjoying sustainable growth and attracting investments from domestic and foreign markets to create wealth and raise the people’s standard of living, were launched. These improvements and projects were numerous and enormous -- (a) the launch of the RAK Investment Authority (RAKIA) in 2005 -- which was responsible for creating a favourable climate for investment in the emirate (b) the establishment of RAK Properties -- the dynamic real estate developer (c) the building of advanced infrastructure in the emirate; and (d) the bilateral agreements with various international colleges and universities. After 60 years of restless efforts and hard work, the time for harvest began: an average growth rate of nine per cent; 60pc increase in per capita income; and $2.5 billion worth of investment pouring in the emirate. Moreover, RAK was able to overcome the financial crisis -which has thrown the global economy into a tailspin -- with the least damage. The emirate started the year 2009 with no budget

deficit, unlike most other countries and governments. A remarkable achievement! However, that’s not everything! The Ras Al Khaimah Free Zone was also classified, in a study conducted by the prestigious magazine FDI, as one of the best free zones in the region, occupying the 17th place on the list of the ‘100 Best Future Economic Zones for 2009’. Moreover, the two international credit rating agencies -- Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and Fitch Ratings (Fitch) -- assigned RAK its long-term foreign and local currency a sovereign credit rating of ‘A’. Finally, H.H. Sheik Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi realised that resisting change is not a wise policy, especially in an era of extended globalisation, which is forcing its rules of openness and liberalisation on the international system. Therefore, he resorted to a cautious strategy of flexibility and openness, along with preservation of the emirate’s identity and traditions of its people. To sum up, in a place like Ras Al Khaimah with a wise, determined leadership and a strong economic base, visions are achievable and change is no longer an obsession or a source of fear, but a strong motive for continuous improvement and a restless pursuit of prosperity and perfection.


Legally RAK

Law Pioneers “We were the first emirate to have a Trademark Law in the early 1970s, and several people from the other emirates came to Ras Al Khaimah to get their trademarks registered”


as Al Khaimah has a well evolved law structure. The Building Construction Law was passed in 1969, the Law of Business Contracting in 1969, the Vehicle Insurance Law in 1973 - it also applied to ships and submarines in 1976, the Land Law in 1981, and so on. Foresight makes a big difference to an emirate’s governance, and Sheikh Saqr’s vision made Ras Al Khaimah a pioneer in terms of various laws. You could walk up to him to discuss what you wanted to propose and he would listen carefully since he had an open door policy and you could meet him without appointments. He organised the courts well and they were independent and governed by the rule of law. Liberty and freedom were always given prime importance in Ras Al Khaimah. Nobody bothered you as long as you did not interfere with the law. Sheikh Saqr’s way of dealing with people was very effective. He was humble, down-to-earth, cautious and strict but flexible. Thanks to his foresight, Ras Al Khaimah saw the creation of several significant departments and institutions. For instance,


Jihad Quzmar, Legal Advisor to the Government of Ras Al Khaimah

the Etihad University, various cement plants, the RAK Airport, Saqr Port, the Municipality, the Chamber of Commerce etc. In the 1960s, Sheikh Saqr established the first agricultural school at Digdaga. There was also an industrial school that was functioning till the late 80s which later became the Institute of Applied Technology. Sheikh Saqr laid the foundation for several new developments that the emirate is witnessing today. When I came here 20 years ago, there was a single supermar-

ket in Khuzam called Yusuf Supermarket. The two main hotels here were the Bin Majid Hotel and the RAK Hotel. Ten years later, we saw the Manar Mall being set up and then, with Carrefour coming up, our trips to Dubai became less frequent. Now, RAK is witnessing a development revolution. We have spas, resorts and world class hotels here. Healthcare was restricted to Saqr Hospital, Saif Hospital and a few other clinics. A few years later we had many other specialized hospitals and clinics.

Sheikh Saqr travelled the world. He has met several world leaders like Emperor Hirohito of Japan, his son Emperor Akihito, Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher, and the Late King Hussein of Jordan, among others

Sheikh Saqr and Jihad Quzmar with officials of an Indian airline company

Sheikh Saqr and Jihad Quzmar with the last ambassador of the USSR at the Ruler’s Court


The Judiciary

Yes Your Honour ! “Sheikh Saqr is a great supporter of the judicial system but never interferes with it”


n 1991, on the second day of Eid, when I was in the last year of university and was on a home visit, Sheikh Saqr summoned me and asked what I wanted to do - practise in court or continue with studies?” I asked him what he wanted of me and he said, “I want you to study further.” So, I went back to further studies and earned my Masters degree in Shariah law. I eventually came back to Ras Al Khaimah to join the Courts Department.

Ahmed Mohammed Al Khatri, Head of the Judiciary and Chief of the Courts Department, Government of Ras Al Khaimah


Sheikh Saqr taught me to treat people with respect and honour whatever be their nationality, age or social standing

Sheikh Saqr’s life and his governance have been a great inspiration to my life. In the course of my interactions with him, he narrated to me stories about the kinds of crises he had helped solve. I felt like a grown-up man when he spoke to me and felt very special. He taught me to treat people with respect and honour, no matter what their nationality, age or social standing were. He imprinted many of his qualities in my character and I strive to emulate him. He is my biggest inspiration.

The laws of Ras Al Khaimah aim at the stability of security in the emirate, an issue that wasn’t so before Sheikh Saqr came to power

The sprawling courthouse



A Mighty Heart! “Sheikh Saqr is extremely confident of his people”


was eight years old when my father took me to meet Sheikh Saqr. He asked me my name, gave me 10 rupees and noted it down in his little blue book. Today, when some of his personal belongings are being archived, I have requested for a copy of the page that has my name written in his handwriting. While I was in school at Masafi, we got a good dose of dates and cheese from the ruler’s court, to attend school regularly. Kraft Cheese cans used to be brought and the cheese was cut and given to all of us. The plan worked. When I joined the RAK Ports and Customs, a few investors had come to me and wanted to set up an oil refinery in RAK. I took them to meet Sheikh Saqr and after the discussions, they asked him, whom they should meet next. The Ruler pointed at me. He said, “He is my son, you can discuss your plans with him”. That touched me immensely. I will never forget that incident. From Sheikh Saqr I have learnt to love the emirate and work for the country as my first and foremost duty. From him I have learnt the virtue of confidence. Sheikh Saqr’s youngest son HH


Mohammed Al Mehrizi, Director of Ports and Customs, RAK and Governor of Masafi

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, has invested the same trust in me.

I have the utmost love, respect, loyalty, and gratefulness for HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. His Highness is a benevolent father, a just and wise ruler, who has a rare personality


An Emirate in the Reckoning “To have ruled Ras Al Khaimah in the early years when Sheikh Saqr came to power would have required a tremendous amount of patience”


ho can better talk about Ras Al Khaimah and its dynamic Ruler HH Sheikh Saqr, than a Professor of Political Science, the Advisor to the RAK Crown Prince for Research and Studies, Private Consultant to the Gulf and the Middle East, who has written several books on the Arab world - Prof Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim. “To have ruled Ras Al Khaimah in the early years when Sheikh Saqr came to power would have required a tremendous amount of patience. We have a complex society culturally, with each ethnic group different from the other and a tribal society known for its specific qualities. As a member of the tribe, even if you don’t believe in a policy set by the tribe, you had to abide by it. Given that situation, one can imagine that Sheikh Saqr would have encountered a crisis daily in his early days. With limited

Prof Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim, Director General of Economic Development Department, Government of Ras Al Khaimah


resources, managing a people with divergent interests diversified into groups would have been a big task, and it would have indeed been difficult to strike a balance between various ideologies. Sheikh Saqr unified the emirate in these circumstances and managed its affairs. That is a laudable effort indeed,” he says. Sheikh Saqr’s insight into educating his people, he feels, is one of his most significant contributions not just to Ras Al Khaimah but to the entire UAE. “Illiteracy is nil here and there are several schools all over and public universities as well. Moreover, RAK has had a long history of contact with the outside world and its people are educated, hence, enlightened and friendlier to outsiders. That includes a population that has 40 per cent UAE nationals. Prof Hassan, who joined the Economic Department and became its General Director in October 2006, looks up to Sheikh Saqr as a father.“ He has many positive qualities. He met his people, has been open to change, is religious, devoted, dedicated to work, and encourages people towards education all the time. He was regularly in touch with the first teachers of the emirate

and was very rigorous with follow-ups of the student’s progress and encouraged them to go abroad for further studies. He paved the way for industrialisation in the emirate; the cement factories were first to be established in RAK, and then Julphar Pharmaceutical and RAK Ceramics, etc,” he states Sheikh Saqr’s vision is carried forward by his son, the very capable HH Sheikh Saud, Deputy Ruler and Crown Prince, who is very clear about the way he wants to lead the emirate. “Being an economist himself, he has charted out a roadmap that will lead RAK to economic prosperity and success, as a result of which we have three industrial zones. RAK today, as part of the UAE federation, has good health services in the form of RAK Hospital and Saqr Hospital, and universities such as RAKMHSU, Bolton University, the Royal College of Science & Technology etc. We are well equipped with a number of malls coming up here, namely Al Hamra Mall, Al Naeem Mall, RAK Mall, Safeer Mall, Manar Mall etc”. More hotels are being opened or under construction, such as Al Hamra Fort and Palace, Hilton, the Cove Rotana, and SAS Hotel.


legally rak

The Bar of Excellence “In my 37 years of service as the Chief Justice of RAK’s Judiciary, I have met Sheikh Saqr daily for two hours and he has never ever said a word that would hurt me.”

Khalid M Saffarini, former legal advisor to the Government of RAK

“I 66

have been a witness to several historically significant events in the emirate. All of which showcase Sheikh Saqr’s various roles, each, conducted with great courage, thought and presence of mind” says Khalid Saffarini, former legal advisor and close friend of Sheikh Saqr. A Palestinian who joined Sheikh Saqr’s services in 1971, before the Federation,

Saffarini remembers a time when there were no civil laws at all. “But the Ruler was so supportive that under his purview, I forumated the laws and the annual official gazette. Every time we needed a law, I could discuss it with him and he would help process it quickly”. Also, the laws were tailored for the people of RAK. “We had a labour law way back in 1971, and in 1973, we had a law that made insurance for cars compulsory. Be it criminal procedures or civil procedures, we were the pioneers of legislation. The other emirates have followed RAK’s example,” he adds. The RAK Court was eventually built in 1979. It was the best court in UAE in its times. “When the court was being built, someone complained to him about why I had used the services of a certain builder and he summoned me. When I explained my point on the choice of the person based on his integrity, he addressed me fondly and said, “Abu Tarik (an endearing term), the court is your responsibility, build it as you would bring up your baby.” Sheikh Saqr not only took keen interest in the creation of the court, but also made sure that the proceedings were independent. “That is the greatness of Sheikh Saqr. He has a progressive outlook. He understands that the judiciary must be independent, and only then would people be confident they are treated fairly. A legacy continued by his son HH Sheikh Saud, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler.”

“We had a labour law way back in 1971 and 1973; we had a law that made insurance for cars compulsory. Be it criminal procedures or civil procedures, we were the pioneers of legislation. The other emirates have followed RAK’s example. The Ras Al Khaimah Court was eventually built in 1979. It was the best court in UAE in its time”


Saffarini has travelled abroad numerous times with Sheikh Saqr and has been associated with him very closely. Today, he visits him every fortnight and they have a good laugh about the days gone by. “Once, while we were in Japan at a traditional dinner, we were offered sushi. There was also octopus on the menu and we couldn’t eat much, though it is a delicacy to many. While we were driving back, Sheikh Saqr sensed I was hungry and stopped by an Indian restaurant where we tucked into sumptuous meat and biryani and laughed that we had a dinner after dinner,” he reminisces. “At another instance, the Japanese ambassador to Hong Kong had invited us for lunch and we were ten of us who were made to sit around a fire. We were then asked to pick a tiny piece of meat on a skewer, roast it on the fire and eat it. It was culturally different since Arabic hospitality thrives on a lavish feast. Then, a huge dome like plate was brought to us. We thought it would have a goat and we would have our fill, but there was one chicken inside for 10 people. The dish had a historical significance of being called Pauper Chicken. It dated from a time when Chinese tax collectors came to people’s homes to check their food supplies and people hid their food. Though the historical significance of the dish was not lost on us, we had a hearty laugh. For, it was hardly filling.”

The photo was clicked in Manar Mall in 2003 when Palestinian students from the Jamait e Itihad performed their national dance for HH Sheikh Saqr and he was extremely pleased.

The medal of honour conferred on Khalid Saffarini by the Government of Ras Al Khaimah


Chamber of Investments The 2nd Chamber of Commerce to be created in the UAE, RAKCCI is a continuum of the emirate’s rich trading past



reated by an Emiri Decree in 1967 by Sheikh Saqr, to enhance the economy of the emirate, RAKCCI adds to the current and future investment in RAK, and also signifies RAK’s trading legacy since the beginning of the 15th century. Then, known as Julfar, RAK pioneered in maritime trade. The ships of Ras Al Khaimah steered through the waters of the Arabian Gulf, and its famous journeys reached as far as the coasts of India, China, eastern countries as well as the African continent. HE Sheikh Abdel Malek bin Kayyed Al Qasimi served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of RAKCCI, and HE Ali Abdullah Mosbeh Al Noaimi as the Vice-Chairman. RAKCCI effectively links the public and private sectors and coordinates to preserve the emirate’s economic interests by patronising commercial and industrial activities, and safeguarding investments to ensure economic and social welfare. It also

coordinates and cooperates with different ministries, local departments, chambers at the local, regional and international levels, and exchanges views on laws, regulations and policies. The history of RAKCCI is inextricably linked to the history of development of the emirate. Inspired by his father and ruler, HH Sheikh Saud, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler, too has adopted the trend of rebuilding their ancient civilisation by building an economic structure, keeping abreast of progress and advancement. The Chamber recently inaugurated the Saud bin Saqr Programme for Youth Projects Support and the Saud bin Saqr Business Excellence Award. Also, the RAK Centre for Commercial Arbitration (founded by the Emiri Decree number 17/2008) will settle disputes on a mutual basis. RAKCCI has signed a cooperation agreement with the RAK Free Zone too and extended its services to RAKIA.


An Equal World “Sheikh Saqr was keen that rural folk get the same luxuries and facilities as the urbanites�


hen I became the General Manager of Etisalat in 1984, I met Sheikh Saqr nearly 3-4 times a week. The management of telecom in Ras Al Khaimah, was at that time restricted to a small area, and did not reach out to the rural landscape. But Sheikh Saqr told me categorically that all areas in RAK should get coverage. He wanted people of the villages to enjoy the same luxury and facilities as the people in the towns and cities. A father to his people, he assembled several tribes (mainly engaged in farming, pearl diving and fishing that functioned like self-ruled communities) into one emirate. He succeeded in

Mohammed Sultan Al Qadi, CEO and MD of RAK Properties


Sheikh Saqr listens more than he talks but when he talks, he is quite sharp

Can you believe that RAK once had a school police? That is, parents who did not send their children to school, could face imprisonment. That is the tactic Sheikh Saqr used to educate the people of his emirate. His bodyguards combed the emirate for children and sent them to school changing their mindsets and ways of life towards progress and education. Sheikh Saqr created wealth by encouraging people to take up trade. He was accessible to everyone. It was possible that you may have to wait for your turn, but you would surely get to see him. One of his most important qualities is that he listens more than he talks but, when he talks, he is quite sharp. He has a unique charisma; he is a leader from a different league. Sheikh Saqr has immense patience for his people. He always told me people come to you only if they believe you can solve their problems. They come from various backgrounds and have different attitudes and you need to give them a patient ear. They

have come to you with a reason, so you need to hear them out. Once they have poured out their heart, they will listen to you comfortably. So, when you speak, they will listen. Extremely participative in his subject’s moments of happiness and grief, his son, Sheikh Saud is modelled exactly like him. Sheikh Saud writes his speech himself and under him we have seen RAK move towards systematic growth. Sheikh Saqr’s children are highly qualified and they are humble at the same time. They are an example for society. They live like ordinary persons in the emirate though they are the ruling family and highly accomplished in their own right. Their humility is reflected in the way Sheikh Saqr has brought them up.



Attributes Galore “Sheikh Saqr is enterprising and compassionate”



hmed Essa Al Naeem started working with the government as an administration advisor and translator in 1975. He has been part of the RAK Airport, Personal Advisor to RAK Telecommunications Authority, was Chairman of the Electricity and Water Department, and RAK Government’s Personnel Department. He is presently GM of RAK National Oil Company and RAK GAS LLC, Vice Chairman of United Insurance Company and RAK Insurance Company, Director of Julphar and RAKBANK, Chairman of RAK Trade Centre and owner of Al Naeem Mall. He describes Sheikh Saqr as a strict disciplinarian who loved challenges but would never rush into taking decisions. “A foreign oil company had made a study on the prospects of oil in Ras Al Khaimah and had presented it to Sheikh Saqr. In the meeting in his majlis, they told him, “Your emirate is rolling in oil. Don’t lose time or it will drain soon.” Sheikh Saqr told them, “Can you take me there. I want to go and see it.” For him, seeing was believing. The welfare of Ras Al Khaimah is foremost in Sheikh Saqr’s mind. “Through my interactions with him, I have known that he paid a lot of attention to the development of the emirate, giv-

Ahmed Essa Al Naeem, GM, RAK GAS

ing importance to education and women’s welfare in particular. During the course of the majlis, whenever women requested an audience with him, he would attend to them first. He presided over their domestic affairs too. He is also concerned about old people in the emirate and helps them,” adds Al Naeem. Known to be concerned about his old friends, aides and acquaintances, Sheikh Saqr regularly inquires about them and still meets them after his prayers.


Yes, You Can! “Motivating, inspiring, encouraging and concerned, Sheikh Saqr’s steadfast support has made the RAK Free Trade Zone a resounding success”


Oussama Al Omari, CEO, RAK Free Trade Zone


heikh Saqr has been a pillar of strength for Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAKFTZ) right from the time it was conceived to its establishment and current workings. He has been there like a beacon supporting us with his forthcoming attitude, his emotional and moral support. His belief that ‘Yes, you can do it’, has helped us sail through many an obstacle. Sheikh Saqr’s commitment to the emirate’s development is so strong that it propelled my own commitment to my job. “Is everything alright. Are you fine,” is Sheikh Saqr’s usual inquiry while greeting people and whenever I met him, that small greeting encouraged me no limits. When I joined HH Sheikh Faisal bin Saqr Al Qasimi in the operations of the RAKFTZ, Sheikh Saqr played the biggest role. Whenever there was a delegation that would visit us and request us to meet the Ruler, he would

Sheikh Saqr encourages us to use his name for RAKFTZ. He travelled extensively and built a good rapport with several nations. So, wherever we go, the door is already open for us

receive them as well. That way, he motivated us. He instructed the banks to support us and has always been there as a back up support. Sheikh Saqr has always been progressive minded and his commitment to the people of his emirate is legendary. He knows that through the RAKFTZ, more jobs will be created for people here and there will be an exchange of ideas among people of various nationalities. The RAKFTZ’s very location is in the centre of the city. It is part of the community we live in and not far flung. In that way, it is a breakthrough from the free zone objectives of the world. Most investors coming to RAK feel welcomed here and part of a community of people of mixed nationalities. Also, they have their own licences and are not on a sponsorship. That way Sheikh Saqr, through the Free Trade Zone, has relieved people of sponsorships. Another important aspect of Sheikh Saqr is that he has always encouraged us to use his name for his work. He has travelled extensively and maintains good friendship with several nations. So, wherever we go, the door is already open for us. Thanks to HH Sheikh Saqr’s foresight on free zones, today, we talk the language of the international investor and that makes all the difference to success.

Stress Free Zone



Invest in Education “While I was a student, he reprimanded me for choosing work over studies. Today, I understand what he had in mind�


was a 12-year-old student when I first saw Sheikh Saqr when he visited the Ahmed bin Majid School in the Shams area. He attended all the events conducted by my school and took a keen interest in the education of the students. He kept close track of the progress of students. During my school days, I was keen to work and earn money but he reprimanded me. He told me to continue my studies. Today, I quite understand what Abdullah Hammad Al Shehhi, Director, Ministry of Education, RAK Educational Zone


These photographs from Abdulla Hammad’s personal collection were clicked by a teacher when Sheikh Saqr visited an educational camp in the Kharran area.

he meant. When I joined the Ministry of Education, he continued to attend several functions we conducted, since education has been a prime concern. Before I became the director of the educational zone, he told me it was my duty to ensure that the female students are secure and comfortable when they come to study. Sheikh Saqr has been a father to everyone in the emirate and

extremely particular on early education. Today, a large number of highly educated people in the UAE belong to Ras Al Khaimah, thanks to his vision. Education was also his priority when the Federation was formed, a fact well received by the other founding fathers too. Sheikh Saqr also visited student camps to motivate students and ensure that they get good training and exposure to the outside world.



Foresighted and Benevolent Patient and unruffled, Sheikh Saqr is very sharp at assessing people and situations

Dr Yasser EH Al Nuaimi, Director of Continuing Medical Education, Ministry of Health


he Federal Government had decided to make a health centre in the Monai region of Ras Al Khaimah and Sheikh Saqr wanted to expand it at the cost of Dh11 million. “I asked him why we needed to put in so much money in a remote centre and he explained that it was precisely for that reason. People in the remote mountainous areas had difficulty accessing roads, and travelling outside in case of medical emer-


gency would be difficult. To encourage the people in Monai to use the services of the centre, he even announced an award for the first baby born there,” states Dr Yasser. Extremely concerned for the health of his subjects, he built the Saqr Hospital that has now been taken over by the Federal Ministry. “A good number of equipments at Saqr Hospital have come from his own budget,” he adds. Dr Yasser’s family has been associated with education in the emirate for two generations now. His father Essa Hamad Al Nuaimi and father-in law, Sultan Al Suwaidi were the first two teachers of the emirate, and they closely interacted with Sheikh Saqr. Dr Yasser, being a medical practitioner, has travelled extensively with Sheikh Saqr and has been fascinated by his charisma and uniqueness. “Simply being with him and sharing his varied experiences could enrich you,” he says.

Nearly half of the people from the first Prime Minister’s office belonged to Ras Al Khaimah, owing to their expertise in education


Green Gold “A veteran on agriculture, Sheikh Saqr established the UAE’s first agriculture school and farm”


griculture has been one of the local vocations of Ras Al Khaimah for thousands of years, owing to its friendly climate and regular rainfall. In 1948, Sheikh Saqr gave a boost to agriculture by developing the falaj, a local irrigation method to increase water supplies to the farms. And in 1955, he established the Agricultural Farm and School, the first of its kind in the UAE in the Digdaga area. A veteran in the nuances of agriculture, Sheikh Saqr took personal interest in the farm, and soon it was selling its products to the local market as well as transporting it to Bahrain and Qatar. Extending the work at the farm, he established the Al Hamraniya Agricultural Research Station (HARS) in 1976. Like its counterparts in the UAE, it was built in cooperation with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). In 1984, after the termination of the FAO project, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries took over the station. Working under the supervision of the Northern Agricultural

Region of Ras Al Khaimah emirate, the station is considered one of the pillars of scientific research in the area. Sprawled over an area of 50 hectares donated by Sheikh Saqr, the station, which has eight tubewells, contributes widely to the diffusion of modern tested technologies to the farmers and helps in the progress of agricultural development in the emirate. It conducts experimentation with improved agricultural techniques under local environmental conditions, taking into account the constraints of water quantity and quality as well as variability of soil and its chemical characteristics. The station includes the Date Palm section, established in 1987, which aims to preserve the different varieties of date genotypes in the world. It also has a fruit section established earlier, in 1976, which grows citrus fruits, guavas, mangoes and strawberries in a controlled environment. One of the significant aspects of the farm is the Plant Protection Section which conducts research on the red weevil that is a big threat to date palm trees in the region.



Virtue of kindness “You are responsible for generations of children from Masafi. We have nothing more precious than them in our lives. This was Sheikh Saqr’s advice to me when I went to meet him”


The first school of Masafi dating back to 1964


''Many of my students came to the school on donkeys, since they had to travel from their villages in the mountain regions''

Adnan Musbah Abu Jared, former Head Master of Schools, Masafi

here is an orderliness about teachers that speaks for itself, a discipline that spills into their lives much after they have rubbed off those words from their blackboards and retired to a quieter life. Adnan Musbah Abu Jared, former Head Master of Schools at Masafi, Ras Al Khaimah is a perfect teacher. He shows us around all the schools of Masafi especially the Masafi Coeducation School built in 1964 by Sheikh Saqr with support from the Al Ghurair family. Its first teacher was Khaleel Mater. Jared points to a massive tree at the old school, where he came to work as a teaching consultant from Gaza, way back in 1966. “The school had two rooms but there was no electricity and so, I used to hold my classes under this tree for a year,” he says. The school’s name was later changed to Ali bin Abi Talib School, then to the Masafi Secondary School for boys and then the Secondary School. Old memorabilia peeps out of the school’s campus, a table tennis table, a blank space where the blackboards used to be hung, a rusted carpet and a broken chair or two. The old hostel that housed about 64 children stands today and so does the

Table tennis match at the Masafi Coeducation School (MCS)

The school’s pupils came from nearby villages and many lived in the hostel in the campus

Girls and boys queue up in an old photo of the MCS

Saluting the national flag at a school function

Sheikh Saqr knew nearly everyone in his emirate. Once, during a visit to a school in Masafi, as was customary, he asked a 12-year-old student about his father. When the boy named his father, Sheikh Saqr knew at once that he was dead. He reminded the boy about his father’s good deeds and advised the son to be like him. That is the level of his memory and involvement with people


Sheikh Saqr signs the Masafi School’s register


Masafi Boys School for Basic and Secondary Education

kitchen. Walking around the campus, Jared reminisces about the days gone by. “The school was up to the fourth class and many of my students came to the school on donkeys, since they had to travel from their villages in the mountain regions. Students came from nearby Fujairah too since Sheikh Saqr made no distinction about the difference between the emirates. The school was also supported by the late Ahmed Majid Al Ghurair. Adnan met Sheikh Saqr at Al Mamoora when he told him, “You will be responsible for generations of people hailing from the Masafi area. We have nothing more precious than our children.” His visit was a party time for Masafi since children would get gifts, money and many prizes.“Sheikh Saqr has a great memory and whenever he met the children, he would ask them their village name and then the father’s name.” Today, Masafi has three schools for boys and three for girls and has produced some of the best students of the region, some of whom include Rashed Mohammed Khalfan Sherqui, Parliamentarian and UAE ambassador; Mohammed Al Mehrizi, Director General, Ports and Customs, RAK etc. Adnan Musbah Abu Jarad’s wife, Misser Ousef Abu Jarad has been a Head Mistress for the girl’s school in Fujairah. While she joined Adnan Jarad in his co-educational school as a teacher

since she had done her Diploma in teaching, after the Federation, she joined the Girl’s School in Masafi Fujairah and started teaching there. “I came here in 1970 when there was no electricity. We had a refrigerator that ran on kerosene and once a month my husband used to go to Dubai (it took 5 hours) to buy provisions”. The school in Fujairah started with 150 children from all the nearby villages, and in 1996, there were 1,000 girls. Her school was originally called the Masafi Girl’s school and then it was split into two and renamed the Masafi Secondary School and the Rumaita Primary School. Then, there is a nursery for girls and boys

A family devoted to education: Adnan Musbah Abu Jarad and Misser Ousef Abu Jarad

as well.“Our seconday school results have always been 100 per cent. The 1-10 grades in the entire emirates have been students from my school. The academic environment makes them study,” she adds. “My girls are like my daughters and I am very proud of their achievements, and today many of them are doctors, engineers, bankers, nurses and teachers,” she adds. Like the sweet fragrance of jasmine flowers in their sprawling home, Adnan Musbah Abu Jarad and Misser Ousef Abu Jarad have left the lingering presence of knowledge in the minds of several young and enthusiastic students, thereby shaping generations of people with the wealth of ideas for change – the motto of education. A mission they attribute completely to Sheikh Saqr. Abdulla bin Omar School for Basic Education for Boys


Armed with Education “My parents are not educated but thanks to Sheikh Saqr’s influence, they were keen that girls educate themselves and make their mark in the world” Asha Al Shamsi, Supervisor of Mathematics, Ministry of Education, Ras Al Khaimah


anpower, machine, material and money account for success. And Ras Al Khaimah has concentrated on strengthening the skills of its manpower, giving them education and confidence to face the world, thereby controlling the other three Ms. This is all due to the futuristic vision of Sheikh Saqr. In the seventies, I was a student at the Zubeida School, now called the Noora bin Sultan School, and Sheikh Saqr used to be part of each and every programme our school conducted. He was keen on women’s education and always encouraged us to study further. He influenced everybody around him to concentrate on education. My parents are not educated but they were very keen that we sisters and brothers educate ourselves, thanks to his vision and influence. Education has led me throughout my life. It also has helped me in my work at the autism centre that I help with. We already have 18 children here.

''Sheikh Saqr sowed the seeds of education deep into the soul of Ras Al Khaimah and we are reaping the fruits today'' 86

Whenever there is a competition at the Federal level and students have to be chosen to represent the UAE abroad, I am happy to say that several times, the entire batch of students chosen, hail from Ras Al Khaimah. Sheikh Saqr sowed the seeds of education deep into the soul of Ras Al Khaimah and we are reaping the fruits today.

''Ras Al Khaimah has managed its manpower very well by equipping them with education thereby strengthening their skills''




An Emirate of Good Values ‘‘Sheikh Saqr personifies the word ‘baba’ (father) in every sense of the term’’

Safia Jasim Ali Al Shamsi, Assistant Director, Public Health Department, Ras Al Khaimah

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s children, we have been taught to address HH Sheikh Saqr as Baba Saqr. But it is not just the use of a word. Sheikh Saqr personifies the word in every sense of the term and is indeed a father to everyone in the emirate. He doesn’t control people of the emirate from above, but is one with everyone, which is his greatness. As a child, I remember him

visiting our school, as well as our uncle Naser Hassan Al Kass Al Ali. I have grown up hearing stories of Sheikh Saqr and his school police. The peace and calm Ras Al Khaimah enjoys spills over its people too. My grandfather was originally from Sharjah but my father was born here and had deep love for the emirate. In our family, we inherit the love for Ras Al Khaimah, our home. I have several colleagues and friends who tell me to move to Abu Dhabi or Dubai for better career prospects, but somehow I like Ras Al Khaimah more and chose to stay here. I am planning to study further and go for a PhD and wish for more doctoral programmes in Ras Al Khaimah so that I can study here itself instead of going out. With some universities setting up base in Ras Al Khaimah, I see that option. Ras Al Khaimah still retains the social connection between families. Most people of this emirate who have been living here for some years know each other really well. There is a certain warmth about the emirate, and that quality has been enhanced by good education and its interaction with people of various communitites, thanks to Sheikh Saqr. We are an emirate of good values.


Pioneering initiative In 1972, Sheikh Saqr started Union Cement, the first cement factory in the UAE. Today, with more cement companies added to the list, Ras Al Khaimah produces 70 per cent of UAE’s cement


ashing in on the wealth of the limestone-rich Hajjar mountains, Sheikh Saqr started the first cement factory in the UAE - Union Cement, way back in 1972. The factory , locted in the Khor Kwair industrial area, has one of the biggest kilns in the world that makes it the largest cement producer of the UAE. Today, with several other cement companies added to the list, namely Pioneer Cement, Star Cement, White Cement etc, the emirate is the largest producer of cement in the region. In fact, Ras Al Khaimah produces 70 per cent of UAE’s cement. Catering to the need of the market, the emirate produces various kinds of cement namely Portland Cement, White Cement, and Oil Well Cement. Transporting the cement to various loca-

The UAE is the largest consumer of cement in the world (2.89 tonnes in 2005) and the demand for cement is expected to increase by 10-15 per cent per year in UAE to reach 25 million tonnes in the next five years tions and exporting them to different countries too is an easy task since most of the cement manufacturing factories are located close to the Mina Saqr Port. The cement companies employ a mixed workforce of UAE Nationals, Indians, Pakistanis, Syrians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Palestinians and Yemenites.


Fuelling Growth “RAK Gas provides the emirate with a consistent and secure gas supply”

Ruurd Abma Chief Operating Officer, RAK Gas

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as Al Khaimah Gas Commission was established by an Emiri Decree 14/84 issued by the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah and its dependencies. In 2007, the commission was changed into an LLC Company with a primary function to provide RAK with a consistent and secure gas supply and generate cash for the government. RAK Gas’s main activities include 1) Gas treatment. Here it receives raw gas from offshore Oman and Umm Al Quwain, treats it in the plant where it is split into treated gas, LPG and condensates. 2) Gas Trading, which

involves buying gas from BP and Dolphin Energy Limited; and 3) International Ventures, which include exploration ventures, for instance the one signed in Tanzania in November 2006. Its General Manager is Ahmed Essa Al Naeem. “The RAK Gas plant at Bukha is capable of handling 150 MMscfd of gas, 20,000 barrels of condensates per day, 120 tonnes of LPG and 500 barrels of pentanes daily. With two storage tanks of 250,000 barrels each, RAK Gas sells condensates worldwide via an SPM (single point mooring) with tanker,” says Ruurd Abma, Chief Operating Officer, RAK Gas LLC, who is responsible for the technical, planning, operational and commercial divisions of RAK Gas. RAK Gas’s SPM can accept tankers of 280,000 tonnes maximum and it has a capacity of 10,000 barrels per hour. RAK Gas sells gas to five cement companies of RAK and also sells gas to industries located at Al Ghayl ( RAK Steel, power plant) and Al Hamra ( Guardian RAK, JBF, Arc International, RAK Ceramics).

Future Perfect

Lifestyle Haven “Al Hamra Real Estate development redefines luxury� By Linda Benbow

Tell us about the company and what role does it play in the modernisation of RAK? The Al Hamra Village development boasts of a futuristic vision. This project was conceived and developed not only for economic development but also to provide a unique lifestyle to our investors. Our intention was not only to attract investors to the UAE, but also to attract them to stay in the village where luxury is truly redefined. Our Village has various types of accommodation to suit every palate and entertainment too. We have restaurants, malls, etc. We have a marina that has 200 berths (middle and large- sized), and now our Marina Club will be another lifestyle feature to look out for. We intend to make this a destination, and therefore, are in the process of developing another 100 berths for small boats. Another huge factor in favour of living here is the stark difference in the cost of living here when compared to Dubai. Just to illustrate, a membership at the Yacht Club in Dubai costs Dh25,000, whereas here you can make a down payment of Dh1,500. and can rent it too.


What about school facilities, cinema, theatre, meeting, doctors, clinics etc? We have 5,000 units now, and in the future, we expect to have at least 20,000 people. But we are developing slowly and cautiously. We have restaurants, a plush golf course, and a beautiful mall with 200 shops. The mall is fully occupied now. We are treading

Romain Felber, General Manager, Al Hamra Real Estate Development LLC

slowly and steadily to ensure that our investors are totally satisfied. We have food courts, restaurants, bookshops, entertainment areas, amusement centres and some live activities like magic shows for kids etc. We are in the process of having a club near the lagoon and intend to develop some gaming zones too. Phase 1 of the development is complete and Phase 2 is 30 per cent complete. We have the Palace Hotel coming up, where construction is on in full swing. How much has been the investment? About 85 per cent has been sold. We do not intend to sell everything as we are keen on renting some units too. In the future, we intend to retain more units as owners. Are there investors from outside the country too? Yes, we have a lot of individual investors, who have their personal interests outside the UAE and hence do not stay here. But most of our clientele have business interests in the UAE. Then we have

Europeans, who are keen on owning holiday homes near the sea. Our project is a huge success, especially for this section of investors. The quality of life is definitely better here. We have our own water treatment plants, power, landscaping, swimming pool etc. Everything is under our control. We are even considering opening a small health centre for the benefit of our residents.

What about the Hamra Golf Course? The golf course is spread out in the harbour and well-lit. After a refreshing walk by the marina, you can go and play golf. This is the green eye of the Village. We even have restaurants to cater to golfers. We have successfully used water from our water treatment plant to create more green spaces in the area.



Leisure Destination – RAK Hotel “Sheikh Saqr used to visit the RAK Hotel quite often for official meeting and banquets. He would insist on retaining the lush greenery around the hotel and did not like cutting trees for any reason,” says Simone Rached, Sales and Marketing In-Charge, RAK Hotel.


he first hotel in Ras Al Khaimah, the RAK Hotel has been the emirate’s landmark since 1971, the year it was built. It served as a meeting point for people, courier deliveries and transfer of equipment to the emirate. Located on a hilltop, the maroon and white structure could be seen from a distance, both at day and night, since its panels had a focus light too. The hotel was leased to Albert Abela by Sheikh Saqr for a period of 20 years and when the lease ended in 1992, it was managed by the RAK Government. Built in two stages, its first wing


The RAK Hotel has seen the likes of foreign leaders like Margaret Thatcher and the First Lady of Poland

that comprises the poolside, was built in 1970, and the second wing above the laundry was built in 1975. Its designer and engineers were from Beirut. The RAK Hotel had the first gaming zone in the region that was very popular among the rich and the famous. On weekends, it had full occupancy. The zone was eventually closed in May 1977. RAK Hotel has been patronised by the likes of Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Britain, who stayed there for

three days as well as the first lady of Poland – both of whom have left praise for the hotel in the guest book. For many though, the hotel has to do a lot with memory. People remember spending their vacations there, or have rosy memories of their wedding reception. Its marriage hall that has seen several royal marriages can accommodate approximately 1,700 - 2,000 people at one time. It was one of the first hotels to offer Friday buffet lunch and popularise Lebanese cuisine.



Budget’s the word Evenly priced and located near the sea, the Bin Majid Hotel and the Bin Majid Resort attract tourists from all over the world


he Bin Majid Hotel and the Bin Majid Beach Resort are two of the important landmarks of Ras Al Khaimah. “While the Bin Majid Hotel is a four-star hotel that started in 1986 (though the building goes back 32 years), the Bin Majid Beach Resort, was opened in 1995,” says Dr Ali Kasap-


bashi, Group General Manager, Bin Majid Group, who has been with the group since 1991. The hotel has seen several important guests that included the well-known Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan and several famous Lebanese artists. Their clientele includes people from Europe, Middle East and the local population that

Dr Ali Kasapbashi, Group General Manager, Bin Majid Group

visits during the weekends. Ask him what the USP of the hotel is and he states that they have a locational advantage of being a city hotel with a beach. Another reason he cites is the pricing. “In Europe, people are looking for budget hotels to travel to and our affordable rates work to our advantage,” he says. The hotel follows the European model of hospitality and caters to a mixed nationality of clients. “It is heartening to see how people have put their memories of the hotel online. On You Tube, I chanced to see the video of a party held in our hotel a decade ago. I saw several of my old employees there,” states Kasapbashi.


Snow-capped Jebel Jais mountains in RAK

Snowfall in RAK



A father to all “Sheikh Saqr encouraged me to study and moulded my character towards strength and self-reliance”

Maryum Al Shehhi, educationist, dramatist and teacher with Ahmed bin Majid School and RAK Guides Association, directed the play on Sheikh Saqr, Falcon of the Arabs, that was shown at his 60th anniversary celebrations



met Sheikh Saqr when I was seven years old. He had come to visit my father Abdulla Saeel Al Shehhi in the Sham region. I remember helping decorating the home for his arrival and when he came, he sat on the carpet outside. He advised me about three major things in my life. He said, ‘take care of your mother, do your prayers regularly, and pursue your studies.’ He wanted all the people of his emirate, whether a boy or girl, to get good education. My father passed away some time ago and I consider Sheikh Saqr as my father. He en-

couraged me to study, moulded my character towards strength and empowerment. Maryum Al Shehhi has hosted several radio shows on Sheikh Saqr and recounts several instances about his illustrious life. “He never made himself inaccessible to his people. He was there for them whenever they needed him. Once a policeman from RAK met with an accident and was hospitalised. When he opened his eyes, the first person he saw was Sheikh Saqr. He couldn’t stop his tears when he saw the Ruler.”

Maryum Al Shehhi at the 60th anniversary celebrations of HH Sheikh Saqr’s rule



God’s own Pilgrim “Religious, methodical and highly disciplined, Sheikh Saqr is extremely devout”


aeans have been written on kings and rulers by court poets who often herald their achievements. In Ras Al Khaimah though, denizens do the job. This is because the common man knows the hold Sheikh Saqr has had on his life. Here is a Ruler who ruled his emirate like a sacred place and treated his people like his own children. “He prayed five times a day in the mosque, has been a strict follower of the Holy Quran and lives a life of discipline and order,” says Mohammed Rashel Al Khatri, who was the aide and personal bodyguard of Sheikh Saqr in 1959 along with 20 other men. As a young man of 20, he worked on a salary of 40 Indian rupees (the currency at that time).


Mohammed Rashel Al Khatri, former aide

“When Sheikh Saqr’s car broke down in the desert, he continued walking unperturbed, all the way to Dubai, as if nothing had happened”

Khatri has several interesting episodes to narrate about the time he spent with Sheikh Saqr. He describes him as a humble and forgiving Ruler who is extremely simple. “ Sheikh Saqr once walked quite a long distance to Dubai, when his car broke down in the desert. I was with him and he never got upset for walking the distance. He continued walking unperturbed as if nothing had happened. I was

stunned by his simplicity and matter-of-fact approach,” he adds. This was the time when there were no roads to Dubai. And the way to reach there was to take the help of the coast line. “But sometimes, we were stopped by high tide and we had to camp in the area till the tide receded and enabled us to proceed further. That took a few hours, but Sheikh Saqr was ever patient,” he states.

The Emirates Road has eased the passage to Ras al Khaimah



Enthroned in Hearts “Everywhere he goes, people assemble around him without being told who he is. They intuitively know he is the Ruler since he commands that energy about him”


t is not merely territorial rule that makes a Ruler. The degree to which he is enthroned in people’s hearts determines his greatness. Sheikh Saqr is fondly cherished by the people of Ras Al Khaimah for his magnanimity and concern. Ali Ahmed Sulaiman, Job Supervisor, RAK Educational Zone, states how HH Sheikh Saqr is part of the good and bad times of his people. “My

Abdulla Hamed Lejhwais, former aide


Once, Sheikh Saqr's car broke down in the desert and springing into action, he lifted it without a jack and replaced the tyre. He is self-reliant. He is for real

“He never postpones whatever he can do at that moment for his people” - Ali Ahmed Sulaiman, Job Supervisor, RAK Educational Zone

brother-in-law died in an accident some years ago and in the first of the three days of mourning, Sheikh Saqr visited my uncle Abdulla Hamed Lejhwais to console him. My uncle had been Sheikh Saqr’s aide and part of his entourage when he was 14 years of age and had accompanied him on his several hunting expeditions and tours. Sheikh Saqr came to the funeral with Sheikh Saud and Sheikh Faisal and their presence was very comforting to all of us. Abdulla Hamed Lejhwais speaks of his times with Sheikh Saqr. “Sheikh Saqr has the natural charisma of a ruler. Everywhere he goes, people assemble around him without being told who he is. They intuitively know he is the Ruler

since he commands that energy about him,” states Lejhwais. “Extremely confident of himself, Sheikh Saqr listens to everyone and then gives an opinion. Extremely punctual in his prayers and his commitment, he continues to inspire generations of people who emulate him. He has taught me to be fearless and has been a part of my life like a beacon,” states Lejhwais who recounts an old incident while he was travelling with Sheikh Saqr. “At one point of time, Ras Al Khaimah had just one car, a Land Rover that belonged to Sheikh Saqr. Once, the car broke down in the desert and springing into action, Sheikh Saqr lifted one side of it without a jack and replaced the tyre. He is for real.”



Fluent in dialects ‘‘Sheikh Saqr is well versed in all the local dialects spoken in Ras Al Khaimah’’

Hasan Jamal bin Jamal, Sheikh Saqr’s friend and trusted aide


heikh Saqr met a lot of people during the course of a day and they came from different parts of Ras Al Khaimah the deserts, mountains, plains or seaside and each of them spoke a different dialect. And he could speak fluently in all of them. In fact, he spoke to people in their own dialects and they could connect to him immediately,” says Hasan Jamal bin Jamal, one of Sheikh Saqr’s closest aides. We met Hasan when he came to pay a visit to Sheikh Talib bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Director-General of the RAK Police, who introduced us to him.


Hasan Jamal bin Jamal’s shop ‘Al Hamham Grocery’, near the Airport Road used to be a meeting point for Sheikh Saqr and his aides. They assembled there while they went out hunting or travelling. “Most people knew my shop and they all assembled there. I had opened it in 1966,” states the soft-spoken Jamal. The Al Hamham Grocery still stands today, thanks to Sheikh Saqr who has instructed Hasan to never demolish it. That was an era when banks had yet to make their presence felt and Sheikh Saqr would often conduct monetary transactions through Hasan, who has travelled with him to different countries of the world. Sheikh Saqr is extremely sensitive to his people. “One day, most people in the majlis had left and it was two ‘o’ clock, his time to leave. After he left, a man came to see him. He had travelled all the way from the Howailat area and since his car broke down in the desert, he couldn’t manage to make it on time and missed the appointment. Sheikh Saqr was sad to hear about this incident, and from then on, extended his time for his people.” “He taught me to be polite, how to respect people and conduct myself with dignity,” says Hasan, who is one of the few people who meets Sheikh Saqr daily and prays with him. “He is keen to know what is happening in RAK. One thing is certain, planting a palm tree still makes him very happy.” “When he travels, he makes sure that all of his companions are comfortable. Only when he is assured of their comfort, will he rest. That is his uniqueness. He is very caring.” (Translation by Ms Hanadi Khalfan)




A Chapter in History

he Bin Majid Association, named after the well-known sea farer from Julphar ( old name of Ras Al Khaimah) was established to revive folk art. It is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Information and has four buildings in its campus that consists of museums and a library. The Bin Majid museum, dedicated to Ahmad bin Majid, includes information on him, his portraits, poems, and documents, the Tunb Hall has photos and letters about the UAE islands, there are two rooms dedicated to photographs and sea faring memorabilia related to Ras Al Khaimah and a library. The association also holds traditional exhibitions to strengthen the connection between the founding fathers and the contemporary generation and to maintain precious heritage and the collection of artefacts. Through this association, youngsters


are being trained to practice popular folk arts and for boat races at different events like national days. Some of the sections of the museum include a special room for women and men’s clothing, 56 photos on citadels and fortresses, a list of fish in the UAE, posters, brochures et al. The association has participated in events within and outside the UAE, such as Morocco 1990, Oman, Qatar, Sudan, France, Portugal, Germany (for six months), and Azerbaijan. Furthermore, it participated in the cultural week in Lebanon and Jordan, and in a seminar in Syria about the sea world. Likewise, it had activities inside the UAE in cultural exhibitions and paddling races. The association is open until evening hours for residents and visitors. The majority of its visitors are school students from all over the UAE.

A ruler like no other “Words of praise on Sheikh Saqr are mere drops of sweet water in the sea. He is an ocean of humanity”


y father Hassan Naser was a seafarer and I used to go fishing with him. Whenever a new boat was built, we would invite Sheikh Saqr and he would be taken for a small boat ride before the vessel would be taken to sea. It was the usual norm. I met Sheikh Saqr 54 years ago, when I was six years old. My father had taken me to meet him in the old palace that is now the museum. In my later years, he asked me what I wanted to do and

Naser Hassan Al Kass Al Ali, Owner of the Bin Majid Museum

suggested that I open a grocery store. When I said I didn’t have the money, he said he would give me the material and manpower to build the store and gave me some money too. When I was leaving, he tugged at my kandura and said, “Don’t overstretch yourself. Start from the basics. Use some of the money that I have given you and save some for tomorrow.” I eventually built the place, but it didn’t become a grocery store but a building material shop, with his approval of course.” For a few years, I worked in the Water and Electricity depart-

Much before tapped water came to Ras Al Khaimah, fresh water was brought in donkey carts and distributed to people 111

Sheikh Saqr graces the newly made boat for the customary ride

Whenever a new boat was built, it was customary to invite Sheikh Saqr for a small ride before taking it to sea ment for a salary of 180 Indian rupees. Electricity was restricted to a few areas in Ras Al Khaimah but it was slowly expanding its reach everywhere. When people couldn’t pay their electricity bills, Sheikh Saqr would ask them to approach me or pay the money on their behalf. During the 60s, I visited Kuwait and visited museums there


Fishing equipment

and got an idea of starting the museum here. I got some friends together and we started collecting artefacts. Soon, it was ready and Sheikh Saqr inaugurated it. He also donated several artefacts and photographs from the ruler’s court. The museum has expanded since then. Even today, if families have something old to preserve, they give it to me and I keep it in the museum. No wonder it has toured many countries like Portugal, Germany, Morocco, France, Jordan and Lebanon. The museum has been successful in promoting awareness of culture and heritage. Once, I went to buy an artefact and the seller offered a really high price which he insisted on. I said I didn’t want it anymore. But his parents helped me out by paying half the price, and I paid the rest. A boat rests under the shade of the Bin Majid Society for Traditional Arts and Rowing

Sea faring paraphernalia on display at the museum

The Bin Majid Museum precincts

Boat races are traditional and valuable to the UAE in terms of culture and heritage. The museum encourages youngsters to take to the sport so that it does not vanish from the rich heritage. Naser’s students have reached advanced positions 12 times in Abu Dhabi and 16 times in Dubai


One of the boats used for national level boating competitions

Fortresses and watch towers defended the country from its enemies. Ras Al Khaimah has the largest number of fortresses in the UAE Al Hisn Square at the RAK Museum


Khuzam Tower at the Royal Palace Gardens

The 19h cenury Al Hail Square Tower

The 19h cenury Al Husson Tower, once a stable and a military base

A print of the historical landing of the British naval forces to destroy the Qasimi defences on the shores of RAK on 13th November 1809

The 19th century Al Hilo Tower renovated in 1990

The Al Fulaya Square Tower dating to 1820 where treaties were signed between the Sheikhs of the Trucial States and the British

The 1901 dated Al Mazra Fort near Al Hamra

Abu Shaq Tower or the Al Dehan Square, west of RAK


116 Wadi Al Beah after rains



The Ras Al Khaimah National Museum gets a mystic allure by dusk



Past Perfect, Future Continuous

120 The National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah Fort was established in the mid-18th century during the Persian occupation. Until 1960, it was used as the ruling family’s residence, then it was a police station and a central prison until 1984. Now, it is a national museum.


project initiated by HH Sheikh Saqr, the National Museum of RAK reflects his personal interest in traditional culture and heritage. In fact, its very location is his former home, the historical fort (Husn) dating back to the 18th century. The museum is built in coral stone, a fossil building material from the seas that has excellent insulation and is fairly light weight. Built over a span of many years, the massive rectangular tower in the museum is the oldest part of the fort while its foundation and lower parts originate from around 1800. The rest of the tower was rebuilt after the British attacks of 1819 and further additions after the peace treaty was signed in 1820 when the single defence tower was enlarged into a fort. However, the museum has been very carefully restored, capturing much of the traditional atmosphere. Some rooms have been preserved in exactly the same way they existed while it was still occupied by the royal family, and the place has one of the few working wind towers left in the UAE. The Qawasim Room on the

121 An equisitely carved door at the museum

A wooden navigator

Burial jewellery excavated from RAK

An old map of the world used by seafarers

4000 year old dates and a collection of old coins

Al Hisn Square at the museum


From a seafaring historical town to a modern emirate, trade has been inextricably linked to Ras Al Khaimah - a fact seen in several of its priceless artefacts at the National Museum

Glass ba

Glass bangles from Julphar

Finger guards used by pearl divers for protection

The museum is open all year and is closed on Tuesdays and public holidays. However, the timings vary. • From September to May between 9am-5pm • From June to August, 8am to 12pm and 4pm to 7pm • During Ramadan, it is open from 9am to 1pm and closed on Fridays

A blue porcelain dish pieced together

Renovation in progress on the first floor


Organisation of the pearling crew


first floor contains documents, manuscript and treaties between the rulers of Ras Al Khaimah and the UK Government, and some traditional weapons belonging to the ruling family as well. Traditional life in Ras Al Khaimah is the highlight of the ethnographical display where visitors learn about architecture, pearl diving, date agriculture, farming and fishing in the various galleries. However, the museum has several contributions from people of the emirate too. In 1977, the Government of Ras Al Khaimah ran an advertisement looking for a lost piece of its artefact. A Chinese blue porcelain dish had been freshly restored but the rim sherd was missing. A visitor to the emirate Mr Karl Gross (while walking over Julphar) found the piece in 1983 and handed it over to the museum. A certain Mrs Alexandra Osborne while strolling on the Ras Al Khaimah Beach found an Abbasid pot on the seashore and handed it over to the museum. It belonged to 9th century AD. A set of copper coins were found by three brothersMusabah, Sai and Humaid Hamad Danum-in Hamhem near Al Kharran in 1986, later identified by Dr Nicholas Lowick of the

Various kinds of boats found in Ras Al Khaimah

British Museum as 18th century Fulus from various mints in Persia. In 1965, a well digger found 10th century silver dirhams (the latest date on them was 981AD). The silver dirhams were bought by JDF Nisbet FRNS, member of International Aeroadio and presented to Sheikh Saqr. A farm hand also found some 11th century silver dirhams in Wadi Milah. Some of the doors have Indian motifs that are subtle references to the sea trade between the Gulf and the Indian subcontinent. A fact obvious in a panel of glass bangles found in the area. The vibrant hued bangles come from various parts of the world – like Khuzistan in Southern Iran, Kawd am Saila in Aden as well as Brahmapuri and Nevasa in India. Julphar, the old name of the region is well known in maritime history for being a beehive of activity and for secondly Ibn Majid –the Lion of the Seas, the seaman who is believed to been sought out by sea explorer Vasco Da Gama. While there is debate on whether Majid showed Vasco Da Gama the sea route to India, that Bin Majid was a well-known seaman is generally agreed upon.

The old cannons on display The royal insignia of Ras Al Khaimah



Education is a superpower “HH Sheikh Saqr is an institution by himself ”


nder the sprawling Hajjar mountains, near Galeelah is the Zayed Heritage Village, home and personal museum of Saeed Lahha Al Shehhi, former Brigadier in the UAE army and now, a researcher, teacher and collector of artefacts native to this region. Lahha’s family, including his father Ali Saeed Lahha Al Shehhi, have been closely associated with Sheikh Saqr. “My father, who lived up to the ripe old age of 113, had reminiscences of Sheikh Saqr when he was but a child of six, and my father, 20 years old. He remembers playing with him in the Al Nakheel Gardens near a water spout,” he states. When Saeed Lahha turned six, his father took him to meet Sheikh Saqr who gave him a pen and Rs10 way back in 1964. “I had, till then, never seen a Rs10 currency note,” he recollects. But it was when he turned 13 that his actual interaction with Sheikh Saqr began. “I had not fared well in my exams and in front of my father, he told me, that if I didn’t study, he would beat me. My father was only glad at the admonishment. But I worked very hard and the following year stood first.” Sheikh Saqr never gave up on people. He always said that ‘I must teach him, I cannot lose him. I am his father’. “After school, Sheikh Saqr sent me to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, UK. I was then sent to the Staff College in Pakistan and then the National Defence College in Allahabad, India. Lahha was appointed the Director of the Staff College at Abu Dhabi, Commander for the School of Federal Infantry in Abu Dhabi and Manager, Resources Management. 126 Sheikh Saqr always believed that education is the super-pow-

Brigadier turned personal collector Saeed Lahha Al Shehhi

er, it is food, it is energy, and it is foresight. Without education, you cannot even use your phone. It is that basic to living. “From him, I learnt that educated people are secure, honest and polite and if a country is educated, it is prosperous,” he states. “ I worked in Ras Al Khaimah for 13 years, and for some time when I was commander of the guard for Sheikh Saqr. He told me that he would meet everyone who came to see him - be it nationals or expatriates, all were his children. He always emphasised that if you loved him, it meant that you loved his guests as well.

The Zayed Heritage Village

Traditional jewellery on display

127 Trophies and momentoes galore

Saeed Lahha in the weaponry section of his museum

Education is a superpower. It is food, it is energy, it is foresight. Without education, you cannot even use your phone – Sheikh Saqr The well-stocked library at the Zayed Heritage Village



Ali Omar has captured some rare moments in the life and times of Sheikh Saqr, his family and functions attended by Rulers of the other emirates

This is one of Ali Omar’s favourite photographs clicked at an official event. It depicts the story of the emirate. It has the living legend, the Ruler Sheikh Saqr and the Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler, Sheikh Saud with the late Sheikh Zayed, most of whom are present in the posters as well as in reality

HH Sheikh Saqr and various members of the royalty at Somalia, at the Centre of the World in 1987. (Photograph by Ali Omar)


Inspiration “Cool, collected, modest and extremely patient, Sheikh Saqr is an inspiration to all”


started working for Sheikh Saqr in 1977 as a translator, photographer and public relations officer. I used to assist him in collecting ethnographic artefacts, which is one of his passions. A very wise and modest man who was very concerned about the history of his country, he was extremely keen to save the remnants of the past. In 1968, he asked one of the leading British archeologists Mrs Beatrice De Cardi to survey Ras Al Khaimah and protect the potential archeological sites. I was in the team that started the


Sheikh Saqr and Ali Omar with a British archeologist examine artefacts excavated from the first mass grave at Galeelah. The photo dated 1977 is clicked during the time, the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah was being established

Ali Omar, Photographer, Ruler’s Court, Ras Al Khaimah, in a career spanning 40 years, has photographed various important moments in the life and times of Sheikh Saqr

museum project. In 1977, he initiated and established the National Museum of RAK, one of the most attractive museums in the Gulf region. The museum is currently housed in his old home, where he stayed before 1964. Extremely modest and endowed with a rare virtue of tolerance, his devotion to his people is legendary. He received people from all kinds of social standing with equanimity. Every morning, he devoted two hours or more of his time in a public audience in the Main Majlis in the Diwan. Once, when I was with Sheikh Saqr, a man came to see him. He spoke for a very long time and Sheikh Saqr listened to him patiently. After he left, he told me that the man was lying. I asked him why he wasted so much time listening to him, and his reply stunned me. He said, “I am responsible for the

good people and bad people of my emirate�. He was very conscientious about the safety and protection of women too. His photographs show his simplicity. In all his photographs, he looks cool, collected and extremely dignified. Children have always brought a smile on his face, and when he went to remote villages and met children, he would feel enchanted and happy - a fact reflected in the photographs.

One of the oldest structures of the emirate, preserved for posterity

The old mosque at Al Jazeera Al Hamra

The emirate is known for its wind towers, forts and fortifications

Traditional fishing boats lap the waters of the sea



National Day celebrations

Golden Tribute  

Commemorative volume to mark the Sixtieth Anniversay of Rule by HH Shieikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler...

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