It was eight years after her resignation as the prime minister of Britain and leader of the Conservative Party when Margaret Thatcher arrived in Ras Al Khaimah.
As this photo shows, the Iron Lady, now ennobled as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, had lost none of her disdain for the press.
The occasion was the official launch of the RAK Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in 1998. According to the caption, it shows Lady Thatcher with Sheikh Faisal bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the chairman of the FTZ, performing what is described as “a traditional Bedouin dance”. Baroness Thatcher’s participation involved the planting of a tree, after which she announced: “As a strong advocate of private enterprise, I am fully supportive of the initiative shown by the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah in developing the first free trade zone in the Middle East to offer 100 per cent private operation and plot ownership.” In return, the Margaret Thatcher Business Centre in the FTZ was named in her honour.
Last week, the nation paid tribute to Britain’s first – and so far only – female prime minister, with condolences offered by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, as well as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
* James Langton