UAE leaders congratulate King of Bahrain on 51st National Day

December 16 marks accession of King Hamad's father, who led the island nation to independence

President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, wished King Hamad on the country's National Day. Photo: Wam
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UAE leaders have congratulated King Hamad of Bahrain as his country celebrates its 51st National Day.

On Friday, President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed sent a congratulatory message to King Hamad.

“Congratulations to my brother King Hamad bin Isa and the people of Bahrain on their country’s 51st National Day. We wish Bahrain and its people continued peace and prosperity on this happy occasion,” Sheikh Mohamed wrote on Twitter.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, also sent his best wishes to King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad.

“We congratulate the leadership and people of Bahrain on their National Day. We congratulate them on the anniversary of King Hamad bin Isa assuming the reins of power,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“We congratulate them on prosperity, stability and the march of glory.”

Dr Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, also sent congratulatory messages.

Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai, also took to Twitter to wish the people of Bahrain.

"We congratulate King Hamad, the government and the people of Bahrain on their National Day," he said.

"We wish [our] brothers further progress and prosperity. Bahrain has a special place in the heart of every Emirati, and we are proud of the fraternal relationship that unites us, and we ask God to perpetuate your joys."

Bahrain declared sovereignty on August 15, 1971, and this month’s celebration marks the accession of King Isa bin Salman — King Hamad's father — on December 16, 1961, and under whose reign the country became independent.

Modern Bahrain’s history begins in the late 19th century, when the island became a protectorate of the British Empire, controlled — much in the same way as Abu Dhabi was — by a treaty that bound its external affairs to London.

After 1947, the island became the seat of the Gulf Residency, and home of the most senior British official in the region, who in turn controlled a network of political agents, the equivalent of ambassadors, for the other countries under British influence, including Qatar and what is now the UAE.

In the early years of aviation, visitors to the Gulf would arrive in Manama by plane before travelling to other parts by passenger ship.

All this came to an end in 1971.

But the path to independence was not an easy one. At first, a larger union of nine Arab emirates was proposed, to include Bahrain, Qatar and the seven emirates of the UAE.

King Hamad became ruler in March 1999, after the death of his father. In September 2020, Bahrain became the second Gulf country, after the UAE, to normalise relations with Israel.

Most recently, Pope Francis travelled to Bahrain to spread his message of love and tolerance. After the UAE, this was the second visit of the pontiff to the Gulf region.

During this visit in November, the Pope spoke of Bahrain as a “living image of coexistence in diversity and, indeed, an image of our world, increasingly marked by the constant migration of peoples and by a pluralism of ideas, customs and traditions”.

President Sheikh Mohamed and King Hamad at the Bahrain International Airshow — in pictures

Updated: December 16, 2022, 5:09 PM