x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sheikh Mohammed attends 'moving' celebration of Dubai's oldest school

Sheikh Mohammed celebrates with former students and teachers as Al Ahmadiyya School marks its 100th year of existence.

The late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum during a student festival at Al Ahmadiyya School in 1957. Wam
The late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum during a student festival at Al Ahmadiyya School in 1957. Wam

DUBAI // The Ruler of Dubai joined other former students of Al Ahmadiyya School in Deira yesterday to celebrate its centenary.

Built in 1912 as the first semi-formal school in the area, it served more than 3,500 pupils before its closure in 1963.

Many of its students would go on to become Dubai's most powerful leaders. Among them were Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the former Vice President of the UAE, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Yesterday, 129 former students and five teachers gathered at the campus to honour the role it played in the emirate's history. Among them was Sheikh Mohammed. Twitter users such as Hamad Al Rahoomi, an FNC member from Dubai, described the "moving" moment when he kissed his former teachers on the forehead.

Farid Al Gurg, who works with the Dubai Health Authority, studied there in 1957.

"It feels like I am part of the history of that area now," Mr Al Gurg said. "Today, I met a lot of old friends - I recognised some."

Since an 18-month restoration of the school in 1994, the historic site has been visited by between 200 and 300 guests a day.

Mr Al Gurg said standards of education were much higher when he was at school.

"We had only basic amenities but people really valued education back then. I still have a textbook given to me by my headmaster. A picture of it is displayed in the museum."

Dubai's Cultural and Scientific Association unveiled new plaques and carefully preserved school books, slates and stationery.

"These history books have pictures from the past and all the names of the students who studied there over the years as well as all the teachers," said Abdulla Bin Jassim Al Mutairi, heritage sites adviser at the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

Empost also commissioned a new stamp with the school's image yesterday, and a coffee-table book about the school was released.

aahmed@thenational.ae