x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Baby named after the UAE

The first baby ever born at Burjeel Hospital in the capital was named after the UAE.

ABU DHABI // Naming countries after people is hardly rare - Bolivia, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines all owe their names to figures from history.

The other way round is rather less common. But that is exactly how newborn Emirates Al Arabi got her unique name.

Born on July 6, Emirates was named after her parents' adopted nation as a token of appreciation for a country "that feels like our home".

"We have been living here for more than 18 years, and we really love the UAE," said Morad Al Arabi, a Syrian used car dealer.

"I love everything about this country in terms of the quality of life and the relationships we have made here. We have been living here happily, and this is our way to honour the country."

Emirates is the first child born at Burjeel Hospital, the largest private hospital in Abu Dhabi, since it opened earlier this year.

"This is an important moment for us at Burjeel, and we share the great joy with the newborn's family," said Dr Charles Stanford, its chief executive.

Mr Al Arabi admitted that friends, family and colleagues had initially thought the name a little strange. "At first, everyone was surprised, but they all have said that they appreciate that her name is very special," Mr Al Arabi said. "They all think it was a great idea."

Emirates is Mr Al Arabi and his wife Salam's first child. But Mr Al Arabi hopes for more, and already has a name in mind. "If I have a son, I will name him Dhabi," he said.

jthomas@thenational.ae