A symbol of the UAE and their family’s achievements: What the flag means for these Emiratis



Jessica Hill

On National Flag Day, people all over the UAE will be celebrating the achievements of this country by waving the UAE flag. But for these three Emiratis, the national flag holds particular significance, not just as a symbol of their country but as a symbol of their own – or their family’s – achievements. Here, they explain why they will be flying the flag proudly today and what it represents for them.

Noora Al Mulla, 27, is the marketing projects manager for Etihad Airways. In March, she took her flag when she walked 140 kilometres across the sand dunes from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi, as part of the annual Women’s Heritage Walk.

“I chose to bring my flag with me on the walk because we were a lot of different nationalities together doing the trek, and it was a nice chance for all of us to showcase our countries.

“The walk definitely connected me to more to my ancestral heritage. I was really surprised to hear that my own family had done this journey not that long ago. My aunt called me during the walk, just after we’d run into one of the biggest storms in 30 years, and said: ‘What are you doing? Are you crazy? You know that we had camels with us – you’re not supposed to walk the entire distance!’

“The picture of me with the flag shows me feeling elated because we’d just done the final stretch. The last distance is always the hardest when you’re hiking, mentally you know that you’re just five minutes away but those five minutes feel like an hour. I was really exhausted. Having the UAE flag with me meant a lot to me. It gave me a sense of joy, pride, identity and strength.

“For me the flag means unity. The more united we are, the better outcomes we have. In this picture, the flag also represents the unity I felt with the expats I was with on our walk through the desert.”

Saeed Al Memari, a 39-year-old mountaineer from Fujairah, has raised the UAE flag at the top of 52 of the world’s highest peaks – including Mount Everest (twice), the seven summits, and the North and South poles.

“When I first reached the summit of Everest in 2011, I remember feeling very proud to get this chance to raise the flag as the first UAE national on the top of the world’s highest mountain. I was crying and at the same time laughing with happiness.

“My next plan is to climb the highest peak in every country – 246 countries around the world. I will take my flag with me, this is the most important thing, along with my picture of Sheikh Khalifa, which I always carry with me when I’m climbing.

“When I scaled the seven summits, I took a picture of each of the Rulers of the seven Emirates with me up each peak.

“I also always put my gutra on my head when I’m climbing, so everyone knows me as a UAE national.”

Hamdan Al Maainah, 27, is the son of Abdullah Mohammad Al Maainah, the man who designed the UAE flag in 1971. His father is now Ambassador of the UAE in Santiago, Chile, in South America, and Al Maainah is a manager at Etihad Airways.

“In 1971, my father was a 19-year-old student who saw a newspaper ad to try out designing a flag for the new country of the UAE, which had just formed. More than 1,000 people who submitted their designs, and my father was one of them.

“The colours he chose symbolised things he felt were important for the country – red is for sacrifice, green for prosperity and goodness, white meaning peace and black meaning abundance and a strong land.

“They chose six designs and those six went to the assembly of the union. My dad didn’t even know his design had been chosen until the official day the flag was raised, on December 2, 1971. When Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan raised the flag for the first time in Dubai – my father was there to see it.

“The flag means a lot to me. Our culture is very rich and our population very small, so we try to hang on to different aspects of our culture – the flag is a great part of that.”

Zodi & Tehu: Princes Of The Desert

Director: Eric Barbier

Starring: Youssef Hajdi, Nadia Benzakour, Yasser Drief

Rating: 4/5

'HIJRAH: IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE PROPHET'

Edited by: Idries Trevathan
Pages: 240
Publisher: Hirmer Publishers
Available: Now

Maestro

Director: Bradley Cooper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Maya Hawke

Rating: 3/5

How to vote in the UAE

1) Download your ballot https://www.fvap.gov/

2) Take it to the US Embassy

3) Deadline is October 15

4) The embassy will ensure all ballots reach the US in time for the November 3 poll

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Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 750hp at 7,500rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 5,500rpm
Transmission: 7 Speed dual-clutch auto
Top speed: 332kph
Fuel consumption: 12.2L/100km
On sale: Year end
Price: From Dh1,430,000 (coupe); From Dh1,566,000 (Spider)

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

Representing UAE overseas

If Catherine Richards debuts for Wales in the Six Nations, she will be the latest to have made it from the UAE to the top tier of the international game in the oval ball codes.

Seren Gough-Walters (Wales rugby league)
Born in Dubai, raised in Sharjah, and once an immigration officer at the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi, she debuted for Wales in rugby league in 2021.

Sophie Shams (England sevens)
With an Emirati father and English mother, Shams excelled at rugby at school in Dubai, and went on to represent England on the sevens circuit.

Fiona Reidy (Ireland)
Made her Test rugby bow for Ireland against England in 2015, having played for four years in the capital with Abu Dhabi Harlequins previously.

Another way to earn air miles

In addition to the Emirates and Etihad programmes, there is the Air Miles Middle East card, which offers members the ability to choose any airline, has no black-out dates and no restrictions on seat availability. Air Miles is linked up to HSBC credit cards and can also be earned through retail partners such as Spinneys, Sharaf DG and The Toy Store.

An Emirates Dubai-London round-trip ticket costs 180,000 miles on the Air Miles website. But customers earn these ‘miles’ at a much faster rate than airline miles. Adidas offers two air miles per Dh1 spent. Air Miles has partnerships with websites as well, so booking.com and agoda.com offer three miles per Dh1 spent.

“If you use your HSBC credit card when shopping at our partners, you are able to earn Air Miles twice which will mean you can get that flight reward faster and for less spend,” says Paul Lacey, the managing director for Europe, Middle East and India for Aimia, which owns and operates Air Miles Middle East.

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Profile Periscope Media

Founder: Smeetha Ghosh, one co-founder (anonymous)

Launch year: 2020

Employees: four – plans to add another 10 by July 2021

Financing stage: $250,000 bootstrap funding, approaching VC firms this year

Investors: Co-founders

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FA Cup semi-final draw

Coventry City v Manchester United 

Manchester City v Chelsea

- Games to be played at Wembley Stadium on weekend of April 20/21. 

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


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