x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Diva dazzles crowd at UAE's first National Day celebration

Najat Al Saghira, the great Egyptian diva, sings at the UAE's first National Day festivities on December 2, 1972.

Courtesy of Al Ittihad
Courtesy of Al Ittihad

A first birthday is always an important occasion, and Saturday, December 2, 1972, was a chance for the leaders of the new United Arab Emirates to draw breath and take stock of a momentous year.

In February, the six had become seven with the admission of Ras Al Khaimah to the federation. Tragically, the month had also seen the death of the Ruler of Sharjah, Sheikh Khalid Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, in a failed coup. Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi replaced him.

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the President, had made his first state visits overseas, with trips to Syria, Libya and Sudan. Schools, hospitals, roads and new homes were under construction.

A new currency, the dirham, was approved for introduction in the new year, while the first UAE passports were issued. The country joined the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But the first national day was also a time to relax and enjoy a concert by the great Egyptian diva, Najat Al Saghira, in the capital. The singer is shown here in full voice at the concert, which also saw the first performance of the national anthem, Ishy Bilady (Long Live My Nation). The words were not added until the 1990s.

 

Time Frame is a series that opens a window into the nation's past. Readers are invited to make contributions to yourpics@thenational.ae