x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

RAK people pledge allegiance to Sheikh

Thousands proceed to the royal palace to present Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed, Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, with a love letter.

Ras al Khaimah // Thousands proceeded to the royal palace at the weekend to present Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed, Ruler of Ras al Khaimah, with a love letter signed by an estimated 120,000 people. A vintage Land Rover carried the letter in a glass case through the streets of Ras al Khaimah before it was presented to the ruler at his hilltop palace in Khuzam. A six-horse calvary unit and the RAK Police Band escorted the Land Rover through the city's main roads followed by hundreds of vehicles covered in UAE flags and pictures of Sheikh Saqr.

The "letter of allegiance" follows last month's celebrations to mark Sheikh Saqr's 61 years of rule. The message had been circulated at schools, offices, malls, sports clubs and expatriate associations since Sept 2008. Mohammad al Mehrizi, director general of the RAK Customs and Ports Department and chairman of the organising committee, praised the enthusiastic public response. "The public participation was so huge that within five months we were able to cross the anticipated 100,000 signature mark," Mr al Mehrizi said.

"We ended up collecting around 120,000 signatures from citizens and expatriates in Ras al Khaimah who were very keen to express their love for Sheikh Saqr, whose reign during the last 60 years has transformed Ras al Khaimah from a less developed region to a bustling development hub." As part of the event, the Cultural Centre staged House of Qawasim; House of Peace, an opera about Sheikh Saqr and the economic and social changes in the emirate over the past six decades. A short film about Sheikh Saqr titled Falcon of the Arabs Through the Eyes of People was also shown.

Sheikh Saqr took power in 1948 and worked quickly to unite the different tribes of the emirate and revive an economy devastated by the collapse of the pearling industry. azacharias@thenational.ae