x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

RAK to honour ruler in February, not November

Celebrations to honour Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed, who has ruled Ras al Khaimah for 60 years, are to be postponed.

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Celebrations to honour Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed, who has ruled Ras al Khaimah for 60 years, are to be postponed. Anniversary celebrations will now be held on Feb 12 and not Nov 27, as initially announced. Tariq Mohammed bin Saif, head of the Supreme Committee of Music, said that the celebration will be a "message of love and loyalty to His Highness". Events will include a rowing contest, a cavalry parade, aircraft and naval shows and an operetta by Emirati students.

Sheikh Saqr took power from his uncle, Sheikh Sultan bin Salim, in a coup in February 1948. Feb 12 is the anniversary of that coup. Sheikh Sultan had ruled the emirate since 1919, witnessing the collapse of the pearling industry and the starvation of his people. His initial popularity declined as he marginalised his emirate from the British, launched an offensive on Kalba in 1937, and refused to share his personal wealth with his people.

Support grew for his older brother Sheikh Mohammed to take power after Sheikh Mohammed's economic initiatives. Sheikh Mohammed, however, led his third son, Sheikh Saqr, to the throne with the support of the British. In Feb 1948, Sheikh Saud seized the Ruler's Fort when his uncle left on a visit to the interior, quickly consolidating his power in the city. Sheikh Saqr was officially recognised as ruler of the Emirate by the British during a ceremony on July 16, 1948.

According to his official biography, Sheikh Saqr is currently aged 83. Other historical sources place him as a contemporary of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late president of the UAE, and estimate that he is now at least 90 years old. azacharias@thenational.ae