At first glance, it appears that not much has changed on the new Abu Dhabi government logo – but on closer inspection, there are subtle differences.
On the old logo, designed in 1968 by the Bahraini artist Abdullah Al Mahrouqi, the falcon is smaller and simpler, more a representation of a falcon than a picture.
The falcon on the new emblem, unveiled this weekend, is bigger, more lifelike. It holds its wings higher, and what were previously flecks and dashes are now fully realised feathers. Its chest is puffed out, its eye keen and beady, its tail feathers spread.
Its jagged claws are not merely perched on two daggers; the daggers are held in its grip, and they bear traditional details that make identity unmistakable.
When Mariam Al Ashkari first saw the emblem she struggled to pick out the changes.
The symbols were the same; a falcon staring to the right with its wings spread, its claws clutching two daggers and a banner at the top with the words “Abu Dhabi”.
But then the Abu Dhabi government employee looked more closely. “The changes were not big, because the colours did not change, and the symbols did not all change,” she said. “But if you look more closely you will notice some changes.”
Mouza Fares Al Bert, 22, from Abu Dhabi, said when she initially laid eyes on it, it was a game of “spot the difference”.
“I started comparing it with the old logo,” she said. “I also involved four of my cousins who are all under the age of six. It was fun and the experience was shared among different generations in the family.”
Noor Mohamed Kamali, too, was taken with the more realistic look. “The falcon is shaped in a way that grabs your attention in from the first sight,” she said.
“The importance of those two symbols [the falcon and the dagger] are very well known in the past and in the present.
“The falcon represents prestige and calmness, whereas the daggers represent a practical usage of an important tool.”
Ms Al Bert agreed. “The falcon and daggers are extremely important symbols as they deliver a stunning image of strength, status, beauty and unity,” she said. “Those precious symbols conduct the past, present and also the vision of the future.”
Dr Majid Al Qassimi, an Emirati vet who works for the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, said the falcon was an important symbol of the UAE as it was part of the country’s heritage and traditions.
“The falcon also symbolises prosperity,” he said. “It is one of the fastest animals, I think in a way it appropriately describes the great speed the country has progressed as a whole. So, in many ways, it symbolised that too.
“And just as falcons can see their prey from a very high and great distance, Abu Dhabi looked far into the future for its vision.”
While the designer of the new logo has not been named, Wam, the state news agency has said it was a world-known artist.
Real daggers from the Al Nahyan family collection were borrowed to ensure the details were correct.
The Secretariat General of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, which was supervising the design, will release guidelines for the use of the new emblem by government departments in official publications, gifts and promotional materials at a later date.
But until then, the 1968 emblem will still be used in all official documents in Abu Dhabi.
“Just as the falcon’s eye in the new emblem got a stronger look, you know that the Abu Dhabi vision is clearer than ever,” said Ms Al Bert.