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Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - January 2, 2008 / The National flag is flown at half mast after the death of a ruler. ( Delores Johnson / The National )
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - January 2, 2008 / The National flag is flown at half mast after the death of a ruler. ( Delores Johnson / The National )

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It was also announced that ministries and other government offices in the other emirates would be closed for three days from yesterday, and the flag will fly at half mast for seven days. Throughout the day, Rulers from across the Emirates sent their condolences to Sheikh Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla, the Crown Prince of Umm al Qaiwain, who will now assume his father's title. Financial markets throughout the country will remain closed tomorrow as a sign of respect. But the Education Ministry said all examinations would take place on Sunday as scheduled, and private and public schools as well as universities would remain open.

National and foreign banks will also open for business, but will close tomorrow as a show of respect. The UAE football team, now in Oman, said it would postpone training until after the mourning period, and the third round of the UAE Professional Football League competitions, scheduled for yesterday and today, have been postponed. Football matches in round three of the Etisalat Cup have also been postponed. Horse racing at Jebel Ali was cancelled yesterday, as was today's final stage of the Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Cup endurance event in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Rashid, who built one of the first racecourses in the UAE which is still used as a training track, enjoyed notable success on the racetrack - most recently with the Allan Smith-trained Skoozi, which won the opening round of the Maktoum Challenge in 2002 and was then runner-up to Grey Memo in that year's Godolphin Mile. The new Ruler of Umm al Qaiwain, who will sit on the Supreme Council, Sheikh Saud bin Rashid, is 11th in the Al Mu'alla line, which has ruled the Emirate since the mid-18th century.

Born on Oct 1 1952, Sheikh Saud received his elementary and primary education in Umm al Qaiwain before attending high school in Lebanon. He studied at Cairo University, graduating in 1974 with an economics degree. Appointed to the Foreign Ministry in 1973, he was seconded to the Umm al Qaiwain Emiri Court, and was subsequently appointed as Commander of the Umm al Qaiwain Emiri Guard in 1977, in the rank of colonel. In 1979, he was appointed as Chief of the Umm al Qaiwain Emiri Court (Diwan), subsequently becoming Crown Prince on July 22 1982, following the accession of his father as Ruler the previous year.

The funeral prayer will be held tomorrow after Asr prayer at the Grand Mosque in Al Ras, in Umm al Qaiwain. Condolences are being received at Sheikh Saud's palace for three days starting today. Sheikh Rashid was born in 1932. His reign began when he succeeded his father, Sheikh Ahmed II bin Rashid Al Mu'alla on Feb 21 1981. relass@thenational.ae

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