The creation of the national flag was a big day for Sheikh Zayed and the UAE, but also for Abdulla al Maainah, the teenage boy who won a contest to design it.
Here, a miniature of the flag, possibly one carried to the Moon on Apollo 17, is shown to Sheikh Zayed by Saif Ghobash, then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in July 1973.
The four colours of the flag are known as pan-Arab colours, with variations appearing in the flags of six other nations, including Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan.
All hark back to the flag of the Arab Revolt, which was actually designed by an Englishman, Sir Mark Sykes, to encourage unity among the Arab peoples fighting the Ottoman empire.
For Al Maainah, his victory at the age of 19, was followed by a distinguished career as a diplomat, becoming the UAE ambassador to South Korea and Chile
In an interview for The National in 2011, he recalled:"I didn't know that my flag was chosen until I ran to the Mushrif Palace and from behind its fence, I stood on my toes and peeked.
"There was no wind that day, so I waited until there was a draft to make sure that the flag up there at the pole was mine."
* James Langton