October 31, 2011 (Abu Dhabi) The UAE National flag blows in the wind with the Abu Dhabi skyline behind it October 31, 2011.  (Sammy Dallal / The National)
The UAE flag, designed by Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, flies proudly in front of the Abu Dhabi skyline. Find out what it stands for as The National counts down to an historic anniversary.

Teen who designed UAE's national flag was 'in a flutter'

Abdullah Mohammad Al Maainah had no idea that his design for the national flag had been selected until it was hoisted high above Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi.
The few designs that had been nominated from 1,030 entries had appeared in local newspapers, but the photos were in black and white, and Mr Al Maainah could not recognise the green, white, red and black colours that marked his design.
On December 2, 1971, the day that the Emirates unified, his winning flag was raised. One was hoisted at the palace in the capital and the other at Union House in Dubai.
But no one bothered to contact Mr Al Maainah, who was then only 19.
"I didn't know that my flag was chosen until I ran to the Mushrif Palace and from behind its fence, I stood on my toes and peeked," he said. "There was no wind that day, so I waited until there was a draft to make sure that the flag up there at the pole was mine."
When the breeze finally came and he could see the full flag, he was on top of the world.
"I can't describe to you that feeling," said Mr Al Maainah, who is now 59 and the country's newly appointed ambassador to Chile.
It was several months later that he received official notice of his winning entry, and there was no major ceremony or any festivities. The country was busy establishing itself.
Mr Al Maainah, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi, was simply thanked and received the prize for winning the competition: 4,000 riyals. The UAE dirham had not yet been introduced.
"At the time, it was like receiving 40,000 dirhams! But I didn't care about the money, I was just so happy that one of my designs won," he said.
As a diplomat, Mr Al Maainah has travelled across the world, to the farthest corners of the globe. Wherever he has gone, he has been closely accompanied by the flag he designed.
"It never leaves my side," he said. "I can't help but smile whenever I see the flag. I feel a great honour and pride each time I am photographed with it."
Three months before the UAE united, Mr Al Maainah saw an advertisement in Al Ittihad newspaper, seeking submissions for a flag. The advertisement came out of Sheikh Zayed's royal diwan, and when Mr Al Maainah stumbled upon it, it was only two days before the deadline.
He rushed and got rolls of colourful paper, a photo album, scissors and a case of measuring tools.
All his designs had the same colours but in different angles and shapes. The colours were not just a coincidence.
"Sometimes people have mistaken the UAE flag for another country, because it has the same colours as other Arab countries that adopted the pan-Arab colours of the 1916 Arab revolution," said Mr Al Maainah. Black represents the early years of Islam, which saw many wars as it spread across the Middle East during the time of the Prophet Mohammed and the first two caliphates: the Umayyads based in Damascus followed by the Abbasids based in Baghdad. The latter's rule continued from 750AD to 1258AD, and reached as far west as modern-day Algeria to as far east as India.
Green represents the Fatimids Caliphate, which ruled out of Egypt from 909AD to 1171AD over an area that spanned all of North Africa, the west coast of the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, as well as Malta and Sicily.
Red was the colour of the Ottoman flag, and is often said to be symbolic of sacrifice and blood.
White has several meanings, from peace to purity to charity. It is the colour for peace across the world, and a white flag was raised after the Prophet Mohammed's first victory on the battlefield, in the Battle of Badr, when he overpowered his opponents in Mecca.
"But meanings change over time, and my own reasons for picking those colours are driven from a more local stance," he said.
For him, black stands for the oil that helped transform his country. Green is for fertility and its green gardens.
"And white and red were already present in separate emirate flags, so I added on what was already there to signify our expansion into a unified entity," he said.

Race card

5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,600m
5.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
6pm: Arabian Triple Crown Round-1 Listed (PA) Dh230,000 (T) 1,600m
6.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
7pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m
7.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh100,000 (T) 2,400m

Kill Bill Volume 1

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine and Michael Madsen
Rating: 4.5/5


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

The Details

Article 15
Produced by: Carnival Cinemas, Zee Studios
Directed by: Anubhav Sinha
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kumud Mishra, Manoj Pahwa, Sayani Gupta, Zeeshan Ayyub
Our rating: 4/5 

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

Bert van Marwijk factfile

Born: May 19 1952
Place of birth: Deventer, Netherlands
Playing position: Midfielder

Teams managed:
1998-2000 Fortuna Sittard
2000-2004 Feyenoord
2004-2006 Borussia Dortmund
2007-2008 Feyenoord
2008-2012 Netherlands
2013-2014 Hamburg
2015-2017 Saudi Arabia
2018 Australia

Major honours (manager):
2001/02 Uefa Cup, Feyenoord
2007/08 KNVB Cup, Feyenoord
World Cup runner-up, Netherlands

Tips for newlyweds to better manage finances

All couples are unique and have to create a financial blueprint that is most suitable for their relationship, says Vijay Valecha, chief investment officer at Century Financial. He offers his top five tips for couples to better manage their finances.

Discuss your assets and debts: When married, it’s important to understand each other’s personal financial situation. It’s necessary to know upfront what each party brings to the table, as debts and assets affect spending habits and joint loan qualifications. Discussing all aspects of their finances as a couple prevents anyone from being blindsided later.

Decide on the financial/saving goals: Spouses should independently list their top goals and share their lists with one another to shape a joint plan. Writing down clear goals will help them determine how much to save each month, how much to put aside for short-term goals, and how they will reach their long-term financial goals.

Set a budget: A budget can keep the couple be mindful of their income and expenses. With a monthly budget, couples will know exactly how much they can spend in a category each month, how much they have to work with and what spending areas need to be evaluated.

Decide who manages what: When it comes to handling finances, it’s a good idea to decide who manages what. For example, one person might take on the day-to-day bills, while the other tackles long-term investments and retirement plans.

Money date nights: Talking about money should be a healthy, ongoing conversation and couples should not wait for something to go wrong. They should set time aside every month to talk about future financial decisions and see the progress they’ve made together towards accomplishing their goals.


Directed by: Anthony Mandler

Starring: Kelvin Harrison Jr., John David Washington 



The bio

Favourite book: Peter Rabbit. I used to read it to my three children and still read it myself. If I am feeling down it brings back good memories.

Best thing about your job: Getting to help people. My mum always told me never to pass up an opportunity to do a good deed.

Best part of life in the UAE: The weather. The constant sunshine is amazing and there is always something to do, you have so many options when it comes to how to spend your day.

Favourite holiday destination: Malaysia. I went there for my honeymoon and ended up volunteering to teach local children for a few hours each day. It is such a special place and I plan to retire there one day.


Date started: February 2017

Founders: Amira Rashad (CEO), Yusuf Saber (CTO), Mahmoud Sayedahmed (adviser), Reda Bouraoui (adviser)

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: E-commerce 

Size: 50 employees

Funding: approximately $6m

Investors: Beco Capital, Enabling Future and Wain in the UAE; China's MSA Capital; 500 Startups; Faith Capital and Savour Ventures in Kuwait


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5


Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now


Scotland 220

K Coetzer 95, J Siddique 3-49, R Mustafa 3-35

UAE 224-3 in 43,5 overs

C Suri 67, B Hameed 63 not out

Dengue fever symptoms

High fever (40°C/104°F)
Severe headache
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Swollen glands

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Marathon results


1. Titus Ekiru(KEN) 2:06:13 

2. Alphonce Simbu(TAN) 2:07:50 

3. Reuben Kipyego(KEN) 2:08:25 

4. Abel Kirui(KEN) 2:08:46 

5. Felix Kemutai(KEN) 2:10:48  


1. Judith Korir(KEN) 2:22:30 

2. Eunice Chumba(BHR) 2:26:01 

3. Immaculate Chemutai(UGA) 2:28:30 

4. Abebech Bekele(ETH) 2:29:43 

5. Aleksandra Morozova(RUS) 2:33:01  

Visit Abu Dhabi culinary team's top Emirati restaurants in Abu Dhabi

Yadoo’s House Restaurant+& Cafe

For the karak and Yoodo's house platter with includes eggs, balaleet, khamir and chebab bread.

Golden Dallah

For the cappuccino, luqaimat and aseeda.

Al Mrzab Restaurant

For the shrimp murabian and Kuwaiti options including Kuwaiti machboos with kebab and spicy sauce.

Al Derwaza

For the fish hubul, regag bread, biryani and special seafood soup. 


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

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