x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Families rejoice as babies share a birthday with the nation

Across the Emirates, as people marked the anniversary of the foundation of the UAE, mothers and fathers welcomed the delivery of a new son or daughter.

Ali Hamad cradles his grandson, Zayed Hamad Mubarak Sabaan, who was born at 12.37am on National Day.
Ali Hamad cradles his grandson, Zayed Hamad Mubarak Sabaan, who was born at 12.37am on National Day.

When Mona Sabaan went into labour at 6am on Wednesday, she had two things on her mind: a healthy baby and a National Day delivery date. She succeeded on both counts.

"When I found out my due date was in December, I kept praying that I deliver on December 2," said the 20-year-old Emirati mother, who is also a third-year student at Zayed University.

After 12 hours of labour at home, she finally went to hospital. "At 8pm they made me walk in the corridors of the hospital, then at 11pm they said it was time to go to the delivery room because I was dilated seven centimetres."

She said she was worried she would miss her target. But labour continued for 97 minutes, and her 3kg son was born at 12.37am.

"I consider it an accomplishment for my son to be born on National Day, and I hope he will accomplish a small portion of what Sheikh Zayed accomplished," she said. "It will be nice if I call him Zayed. But I promised my father that I will name the baby Ali, after him."

Just at that moment her mother, Sabah Ishaq, entered the room and said: "Your father said, 'Call him Zayed.'"

"They're both my fathers, Ali and Zayed, so I will be naming him after my father anyway," Ms Sabaan said.

"When she was in labour, my main concern was for her to deliver and get it over with, I did not see a point in waiting," her mother said. "But now I'm excited that her son will get to celebrate his birthday with the whole nation."

Debra Fletcher, a midwifery sister at Abu Dhabi's Corniche Hospital, said it was common for mothers to try to delay the birth until the clock reached midnight so their child could be born on National Day.

"National Day spirit is beautiful in the hospital - we're all excited to know who gets to have the first baby," she said.

That honour went to Suhana Rijas, who was due to deliver on December 8. When she unexpectedly started labour on December 1, her son became the first baby to be born in Corniche Hospital, at 12.07am.

"He will be proud in school when he tells his friends that he was born on National Day," said Mrs Rijas, 25, a housewife from India. "We will be definitely telling him stories about Sheikh Zayed as he grows up. He is one of the greatest rulers we ever had."

"That is why we are living here," added her husband, Riyas Abdul Rasheed.

They said they were most likely to call their 3.1kg son Adil.

Born on the same date as the UAE but 39 years later, tiny Maitha al Falasi opened her eyes in Dubai yesterday to a world of festivities as the country celebrated National Day with fireworks, mall activities and parades.

"Everybody is telling me that I will never need to arrange any parties on her birthday in the future as the whole country would be organising celebration activities," said Amna al Suwaidi, Maitha's mother.

Mrs al Suwaidi felt that it was time for delivery after she attended advance National Day celebrations at her four-year-old daughter's nursery on December 1.

"I started feeling that it was delivery time at noon but everybody in the family was telling me to try to hold the baby back just one more day," she said, adding that thoughts of the well-being of her child seemed more important than her birth date at the time.

Maitha was born just after 2am on December 2, making her one of the first children born yesterday in Dubai's Al Wasl Hospital. She is the sixth child in the family of Hamad Falasi, a 38-year-old Emirati businessman, who believed that his baby's birth on National Day was a good omen.

"I am glad that she was born on this blessed day and I think she will be a blessing for us," he said.

In total, 37 babies were born in Dubai's Wasl, City and Welcare hospitals. Staff at Wasl delivered 12 girls and nine boys, five girls and six boys arrived at City and three girls and two boys entered the world at Welcare.

In Sharjah, the population was boosted by midday yesterday by the 18 babies delivered at Al Qassimi and Al Zahra hospitals. Six boys and five girls came into the Emirates at Al Qassimi, while one girl and six boys were born at Al Zahra, all of those to expatriate parents.

Dr Annama Thomas, of the Al Qassimi Hospital, said: "Only one Emirati was delivered by a Caesarean section and the other babies had normal deliveries. All the babies delivered on National Day are in stable condition and doing fine."

The patriotic fervour of the day extended to Saeed Ali Saeed, an Emirati parent of a baby boy, who was considering naming his offspring after one of the country's founding fathers or present rulers.

"I want my son to love his country," he said. "I want him to be like the fathers of this nation. All of them are really good people who loved and worked for this country."

Majid Mohammed Ghuloom, another proud parent, said that having his child delivered on National Day was a blessing for the family.

"This country is blessed and now my baby, coming on the day it was born, is also blessed," he said.


* With additional reporting from Wafa Issa and Yasin Kakande