A witness to UAE’s first steps as a nation
Rashed Al Qubesi recalls his 17 years on the council, where he earned the nickname, ‘the agencies man’.
ABU DHABI // Rashed Al Qubesi was known as one of the wittiest members of the Federal National Council.
From a business and journalism background, he was appointed for the 1972 term and became known for raising controversial and topical issues with ministers during his 17 years on the council.
When Sheikh Zayed wanted to appoint him as Speaker, Mr Al Qubesi declined. “I told him I couldn’t. I am a businessman leading more than 17 airline agencies and the Speaker’s job requires extra time,” he said.
But he did serve as Deputy Speaker for a term.
He founded Al Wahda newspaper, one of the UAE’s first publications, in the early seventies, which gave him an insight into decisionmakers and public opinion.
He recalled the first days of the FNC as a “foundation stage for the state, so the most important thing was legislating laws”.
As the UAE looked at other Arab countries’ legal models for inspiration, “the biggest burden was on the FNC, because they cofounded the regime. Sheikh Zayed used to visit us a lot, and we met with ministers every week”.
Mr Al Qubesi was brought up in an environment where people helped others.
“We had a farm with palm trees and camels, and many people used to come to my father for help and he did, then I joined the parliament. So I moved from Bedouin to contributing to the country’s foundation.”
He was no stranger to council work. He was a member of the development council during the Trucial States period, shifted to Abu Dhabi’s development office after the British withdrawal and then the FNC.
Mr Al Qubesi joined Sheikh Zayed on visits around the world, and was part of the young UAE’s first trade delegation.
After each trip, he would come back with a new agency to open in the UAE, earning him the nickname “the agencies man”.