Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoon: UAE's quick-witted poet leader

Born in Abu Dhabi in the early 19th Century, Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoon Bin Shakhboot Bin Diab Bin Issa Al Nahyan, was a poet as well as a leader.

Born in Abu Dhabi in the early 19th Century, Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoon Bin Shakhboot Bin Diab Bin Issa Al Nahyan, was a poet as well as a leader.

He lived at first with his father, Sheikh Tahnoon, the Ruler of Abu Dhabi until 1833. After Sheikh Tahnoon's death, Sheikh Saeed first moved to Mahdar Mazairra, in Liwa.

After the death of his uncle Sheikh Khalifa Bin Shakhboot, who succeeded Sheikh Tahnoon, it was decided Sheikh Khalifa's sons were too young to rule.

Instead the population of Abu Dhabi asked Sheikh Hilal Bin Shakhboot and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Shakhboot to lead them. Upon their refusal, the people asked Sheikh Hilal to nominate another member of family.

He agreed to the task, and soon after Sheikh Saeed arrived, to which Sheikh Hilal called out: "Here is your new Sheikh." Sheikh Saeed at first declined, but was eventually persuaded to become Ruler.

Intelligent, quick-witted and firm, Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoon began his rule in 1845 and was responsible for further fortifying Qasr Al Hosn.

As story is told about a meeting 40 days after Sheikh Saeed took office. Senior figures in the emirate decided to send the leader of the Al Marar tribe, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Mughairibi Al Marar to ask Sheikh Saeed why he had not yet reached out to his people after taking power.

The two men met over coffee. Afterwards Sheikh Saeed invited Sheikh Al Marar to compete at Al Halusa, a traditional game similar to chess. Sheikh Al Marar played first and during the game improvised two lines of poetry to test the new Ruler:

"This land of obscure comers within

Like a handless ship, soon will spin."

When it came time for Sheikh Saeed bin Tahnoon to respond, he said:

"Proceeding with proper ropes, unbroken

Staying convinced in a placement uncertain

Will Keep true thoughts tentatively hidden."

The lines finally convinced Sheikh Al Marr that the new Ruler was the right man for the job and he returned to his people with the good news.

balhashemi@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Hajer Almosleh, the winner of the last year's short story competition, at her home in Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

Get involved with The National’s short-story competition

Writers have two weeks to craft a winning submission, under the title and theme "The Turning Point".

 It is believed that the desert-like planet of Tatooine is being recreated for Star Wars: Episode VII. Could that be where filming in the UAE comes in? Courtesy Lucasfilms

Could the force be with us? The search for Star Wars truth

On the hunt for the Star Wars: Episode VII set, which a growing number of people are sure is in Abu Dhabi, but no one can seem to find.

 With an estimated 18,000 comic and film fans having already paid a visit to this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, organisers are hopeful they will have surpassed last year total, of 21,000, by its close. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai

Dubai's World Trade Center was awash with people visiting this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con. Here's some of our best pictures.

 Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presents Quincy Jones with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award as the Admaf founder Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo applauds. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival.

A candid talk with Quincy Jones about the UAE, Lil Wayne and the Abu Dhabi Festival award

The Abu Dhabi Festival honoree Quincy Jones discusses his legendary career as a music producer, the return of Dubai Music Week and why he can’t handle the rapper Lil Wayne.

 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Military Terminal on an RNZAF 757 from Sydney on April 7, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

In pictures: Will and Kate visit Australia and New Zealand

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge are on a tour Down Under for three weeks.

 A protester gives a victory sign during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo in November 2011. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space

Negotiating our ever more crowded cities and maintaining vibrant public spaces are among the major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National