x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Officials confident in Saud's leadership

New ruler of Umm al Qaiwain graduated with economics degree from Cairo University and worked with his father on government reform.

UMM AL QAIWAIN // As mourning for the late Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al Mu'alla continues in Umm al Qaiwain, officials have expressed confidence in and admiration for his successor, Sheikh Saud bin Rashid, the former Crown Prince. They said that while the shock of Sheikh Rashid's death was still being felt in the emirate, his son was a worthy successor who had played a key role in the modernisation of the area. Sheikh Saud "was a pillar in the rapid development of the emirate. We are confident this is going to continue during his tenure," said Col Salim Halisi, the head of the emirate's Criminal Investigations Department. Sultan Humaid Abdullah, a former Federal National Council member for the emirate, said he had seen first-hand how Sheikh Rashid had helped the emirate flourish. He was consoled, he said, by the fact Sheikh Saud had worked closely with his father for a long time and shared his vision for the future. Alia Abdul Wahab, who works in the Umm al Qaiwain Education Zone, said she owed her job to Sheikh Saud. She said she had been worried after graduating from university about being able to find a job in the competitive local market, but that Sheikh Saud's insistence on creating opportunities for Emiratis had given her an opportunity to start her career. "He has also introduced electronic systems in all government departments that has fostered quality work," she added. Rtd Col Rashid Ibrahim Jaddah said Sheikh Rashid had been like a father to his people. "At the time of his death, the emirate was developing at a very fast speed, competing favourably in all aspects with the already developed emirates," he said. Ali al Ass, the general manager of the Umm al Qaiwain Union, a co-operative society, said he would remember Sheikh Rashid mostly for his charitable works, especially for the poor. The late Ruler also launched the emirate's annual bazaar and the Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmed Al Mu'alla Quran Award, which recognises the best recital of the Quran in the emirate. Sheikh Saud, who was born in 1952, received his elementary and primary education in Umm al Qaiwain before attending secondary school in Lebanon. He then undertook studies at Cairo University, graduating in 1974 with an economics degree. In 1973, he was appointed to the Foreign Ministry, and seconded at the Umm al Qaiwain Emiri Court. He was later made chief of the Umm al Qaiwain Emiri Court and named as Crown Prince in 1982. In this capacity, Sheikh Saud accompanied his father to meetings of the Supreme Council, acting as his deputy on a number of occasions. Working closely with his father, he embarked on a thorough reform and expansion of the government apparatus, establishing a number of new departments and institutions, introducing modern systems of management and electronic systems, developing government services and promoting opportunities for local citizens. He has also played an active role in the development of the hydrocarbons industry, having been involved in negotiations related to oil concessions and subsequent exploration. In 2006, he inaugurated Umm al Qaiwain's first offshore gas field. A keen advocate of the preservation of the country's cultural heritage, Sheikh Saud is an avid follower of camel racing and an enthusiastic saltwater angler. ykakande@thenational.ae