x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ruler of RAK is laid to rest

Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Zasimi, the Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, is laid to rest in his family's cemetery in Al Oraibi.

'We are not just burying my father, but the father of Ras al Khaimah': a moving tribute from Sheikh Saqr's son as the emirate and the nation mourn

ras al khaimah // Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, was laid to rest yesterday afternoon in his family's cemetery in Al Oraibi.

Sheikh Saqr, who had ruled since 1948, was the world's second-longest serving head of state - after the King of Thailand - and its oldest. He was said officially to have been born in 1920, but Sheikh Saqr came from an era when accurate records were not kept.

He was also the last survivor of the seven rulers who together founded the UAE. The federation was established in December 1971, and RAK joined early the following year.

Sheikh Saqr's death was announced early yesterday morning. He had been ill for some time and had not been seen in public since February last year, when he was chauffeured in his trademark white Rolls-Royce Phantom past a celebration to mark his 61 years of rule.

There will be 40 days of official mourning in RAK, and a week in the rest of the UAE.

Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, was joined by the other five rulers yesterday in sending their condolences. "Throughout his life, the late Sheikh Saqr dedicated himself to serve his people and work faithfully with fellow rulers," Sheikh Khalifa said in a statement released by the state news agency WAM.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, took part in the funeral prayers at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in RAK.

Sheikh Saqr's 62-year rule will be particularly remembered for his commitment to the cause of education, which he had championed since the early 1950s.

Sheikh Faisal bin Saqr, chairman of the RAK free-trade zone and one of Sheikh Saqr's seven sons, said yesterday: "We are not just burying my father, but the father of Ras al Khaimah. We have a lot to learn from him, a true legacy. The two things he cared about were education and religion, and that made RAK what it is today."

Sheikh Saqr is succeeded as Ruler, and on the Supreme Council, by Sheikh Saud bin Saqr, who has been Crown Prince since 2003 and performed many of his father's duties during the Ruler's illness.

Sheikh Khalifa described the new Ruler as "the best successor to the best predecessor".