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Late Sheikh Saqr Al Qasimi: Years of achievements

posted on 28/10/2010: 2255 views



H.H. Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ra's al-Khaimah and member of the UAE's Federal Supreme Council, died early yesterday morning. History will show that during the more than six decades since he acceded to power in 1948, he added rich pages to the achievements of the nation, displaying honourable attitudes that had a major effect on the political and social life in his emirate.

Known for his courage, wisdom and his ability to establish security, peace and order, he also paid great attention to education and, in governing, devoted himself to all aspects of the emirate's affairs, in particular everything that would ensure a decent life for its citizens.

Sheikh Saqr was the great-great-great-great grandson of Sheikh Rahma bin Mattar bin Qayed, the founder, in 1760, of the Al Qasimi state in what is now the northern emirates. He was born in Ra's al-Khaimah city in 1920, and was brought up in an Islamic Arabic environment under the care of his father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Salem, who had been ruler of the emirate between 1917-1919. Throughout his life, he was particularly proud of the achievements of his ancestors, who at the beginning of the 19th Century had built up the largest navy in the Arab region. Loyal to the Arab nation as a whole, he was a strong supporter of issues related to rights, justice and peace.

Benefiting from devoted parental care, Sheikh Saqr was given a religious and academic education from an early age. Growing up in the company of his siblings, he memorised many verses from the Holy Quran and the Hadith (saying of the Prophet) and also absorbed the fundamental principles of Islam. He was taught to read and write before the age of ten by a number of eminent local scholars, among whom was Fatima, the wife of Hamad Al Ragabani, who was known as 'The Moroccan.' His subsequent education was provided by teachers from Najd, in Saudi Arabia, who were brought by the Ruler of the day to teach the children of the ruling family, and by Sheikh Sayyed Al Hashimi, who provided more formal education in religion and Arabic in a school in the house of Sheikh Ali bin Mohammed Al Mahmoud.

Sheikh Saqr became Ruler of Ra's al-Khaimah on July 17th 1948 and worked since that time to lay the foundations of national unity among the various tribes in the emirate and to unite them. He was also keen to develop the emirate and to work to achieve its progress in various economic and social fields. As a result of his efforts, Ra's al-Khaimah made significant progress in terms of science and development.

At the national level, Sheikh Saqr was elected in 1965 as Chairman of the Trucial States Council, comprising the rulers of the emirates, a post he retained until the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. During his chairmanship, much was achieved.

Sheikh Saqr also worked side by side with his fellow Rulers of the emirates to establish a solid federation and remove all differences between the country's residents.

The establishment of the UAE federation faced many obstacles. Eventually, however, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the other Rulers were able to overcome all obstacles and on 2nd December 1971, the UAE was formed, becoming the 18th member of the Arab League and the 132nd member of the United Nations.

Ra's al-Khaimah joined the Federation of the United Arab Emirates on 10 February 1972. On that day, the late Sheikh Saqr noted: "Although we build a union in this part of the Arab world, this union is merely a brick in the edifice of the Arab nation-building from the ocean to the Arabian Gulf." Under the wise leadership of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the country began its progress towards the modern developed country of today.

Outside the UAE, the late Sheikh Saqr enjoyed strong relations with leaders of the region and visited many Arab and foreign countries. At an internal level, he was a wise ruler with a broad vision, constantly looking to the future. When oil was discovered in the emirate, he commented that "We hope, in three years, to achieve what other countries have achieved in ten years, and we will not rely in our development mainly on oil." He was deeply interested in education and in the dissemination of knowledge, believing that this had a fundamental role to play in the development of the Emirate. The agricultural college at Digdagga was established in 1955 and by 1960, there were ten schools in the emirate, five for boys and five for girls. An industrial training centre was set up in 1969, by which time the number of schools had risen to 27, with around 6,000 male and female students

The late Sheikh Saqr was deeply interested in science and scientists, welcoming and honouring those teachers who came to Ra's al-Khaimah in the 1950s and 1960s to introduce modern systems of education. He was also keen that students should be taught the Holy Quran.

Supporting the development of trade, industry and the economy in general, as well as the provision of housing and the offering of entertainment for residents, Sheikh Saqr was eager to ensure that the people of the emirate enjoyed access to proper health care. The first hospital to be opened, the Kuwaiti Hospital, was followed by three other modern hospitals offering free access to health services.

In other fields, he worked to build the government of the emirate, creating various organisations and departments, and also focused on the development of the infrastructure. A road linking Ra's al-Khaimah to Sharjah was opened in 1969, the International Airport followed in 1976 and in 1977 Mina (Port) Saqr was opened.

The late Sheikh Saqr was highly appreciated by the ruling families of the UAE and all political and diplomatic circles working in the country for his modesty, wisdom and generosity as a Ruler. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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