x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Lessons fly the flag for national pride

Programme for children outlines how the flag was created, what the colours mean and why it should be treated with respect.

DUBAI // Children are being taught the importance of UAE national identity and the significance of the country's flag under an initiative launched by Dubai Customs.

The Alami programme outlines how the flag was created, what the colours mean, and why it should be treated with respect. Alami means "my flag" in Arabic.

The first two sessions were held at Al Sadiq Islamic English School and Our Own Indian School. The agency's corporate social responsibility department plans to stage many more at private and public schools.

At the sessions, children learn how the flag was designed by Abdullah Mohammad Al Maainah - who was 19 at the time and is now the ambassador to Chile - in the run-up to the formation of the UAE on December 2, 1971.

It was flown for the first time on that date by Sheikh Zayed, the founding President.

The significance of the colours is explained - for example, red represents "the blades of the swords that were covered with the blood of the enemy after victory", while white signifies "loyalty and good deeds". Green is for "rolling green pastures", while black portrays "battle and a symbol of power".

The youngsters are told they should carry the flag with pride, that it has many meanings and represents values such as honour, strength, unity and pride.

"It was a very informative programme for the children, they were very excited about it," said Nafreen Yusuf, the activity organiser at Al Sadiq School, where 60 Grade 4 girls took part. "It taught them all about the flag and they got to learn more about UAE culture. "The children enjoyed the activities, they made lovely flags and showed them to the instructor from Dubai Customs, and they got goody bags."

The Alami scheme was created by three students at Zayed University, and Dubai Customs was so impressed that it took up the idea.

Amol Rao, the headmistress of Our Own Indian School, said: "Interactive sessions like this will help the student community to get to know more about the land and build a stronger bond.

"Interactions and invitations from government agencies will open up channels of mutual exchange of ideas."