Monday, November 11, 2013

UAE National Day: A Selection of Books to Read to Mark the Occasion

UAE Flag
Hoisted for the first time on
November 2, 1971. It was designed by
Abdullah Mohammad Al Ma'enah
This week I have taken concrete steps to get to know more about the country I am calling home for a while. My reason is two-fold: firstly, I am genuinely interested to know about this place and secondly the timing for such a project seems rather appropriate. Why? Well, in just under a month's time, the UAE will be celebrating its 42nd National Day, on December 2nd (it was founded in 1971) and in preparation for the event, the UAE came together last week to celebrate Flag Day, an initiative to hoist the UAE flag simultaneously across the seven Emirates. This falls on the same day that His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan became the current president of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Therefore, and based on various recommendations, I have started with the purchase of two UAE-related books that have now taken place by my bedside so I can dip in and out of each day. The most recent of these publications is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's book 'Flashes of Thought', which was inspired by a dialogue at the Government Summit 2013. Sheikh Mohammed is the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and the constitutional monarch of Dubai. I have already started reading this one and have only a little to go towards finishing it. It is a positive, vibrant, optimistic read about the sheikh's thoughts on leadership and the development of the UAE. Et voila, a great start!

The second book is 'From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi' by Mohammed Al Fahim. The book is written by a business man and close friend of the royal family and tells the story of Abu Dhabi from the 50s to the 90s. This came highly recommended by one of the professors at a very prominent university here in Abu Dhabi that I met recently. 'A must' were his specific terms! So, how could I not? 

A further search on amazon resulted in two memoirs that I have downloaded onto my kindle. A book called 'Staying Afloat: Three Years in Abu Dhabi' by Steve Burton. This is the true story of Burton's time in Abu Dhabi spent working on a project to transform a relatively untouched bird sanctuary in Abu Dhabi into a 'complex, global entertainment and premier yachting destination within 30 months'. The other download is 'Abu Dhabi Days, Dubai Nights' by Jillian Schedneck, a former English teacher at a girls school in Abu Dhabi.

One name that kept popping up was that of British explorer Wilfred Thesiger. His book 'Arabian Sands' was published in 1959 and focuses on the author's time spent in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula between 1945 and 1950. Living amongst the bedu for five years Thesiger has documented not only a way of life that is relatively extinct now but also the changes and developments that took place within the diverse tribes of the desert after World War II. The book has since been made into a movie by Emirati director and producer Majid Abdulrazak. To see the trailer, click HERE.

So here's my list (for now) and I am certain that there are many more to read on the subject out there. So, if any of you have read any good ones and think I have missed some really worthy ones, do not hesitate to get in touch and I will make sure to add them to the list.

See you Wednesday!

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