The race to be the first-born in 2010

The mother of Dhaye enjoyed a relatively fast and easy delivery to produce the first baby at Corniche Hospital in the new year.

ABU DHABI // At just 18 minutes past midnight, Fawzia al Muhairy gave the final push that helped her win a friendly competition initiated by hospital staff. "I was competing with another mother in labour, I could hear her in labour and everyone was telling both of us to push to see which baby will come first, and my Dhaye came out first," said Mrs al Muhairy yesterday.

And so Dhaye al Muhairy, weighing 3.63kg, won the race to become the first baby of 2010 at Corniche Hospital. Mrs al Muhairy said her labour was surprisingly fast and easy, perhaps due to the motivation of wanting to be the mother of the first baby of the new year. Dhaye's father, Mi'ad al Muhairy, said he was dazed from the excitement and joy of his daughter's arrival, and left the naming of the baby up to his wife.

"We already have two boys and two girls, and we didn't want to know what the gender of this baby was so we had no name picked out," he said. But upon meeting her daughter, Mrs al Muhairy was adamant about calling the newborn Dhaye. "Dhaye means a special light," she said. "She is the joy and light and blessing of our new year, so it is a good name." She added that she had expected a boy from comparing this pregnancy to her other experiences, and had gone overboard buying boys clothes in different shades of blue.

Now, she said, "We have to go shopping for her soon and buy some pink clothes." Dhaye's birth was the first of four more girls arriving in the new year. Pamela Bartridge, the obstetrics services coordinator at Corniche Hospital, said that the first five babies of 2010, born between midnight and 4am, were girls. The last baby of 2009 also happened to be a girl. At 10.05pm on Thursday, Maram Wanis, weighing 3.43kg, became the hospital's last baby of the year.

The baby girl, who spent most of the hours following her birth sleeping soundly in her father's arms and decked in pink from head to toe, is the first child to grace the Wanis family. "I'm so excited; I'm so proud," said her father, Abduladim Wanis from Libya, who works as a petroleum engineer at the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations. A mere two years ago, Mr Wanis was living and working in Vienna, and was eager to move to an Arab country where he could meet a woman and raise a family.

"The reason I moved to work in Abu Dhabi is so I can settle down, get married, have a family," said Mr Wanis. "And thank God, all my wishes came true, and a year after marriage, look at me, I'm a father! This is the perfect end to the year." Mr Wanis said he has not been able to stop grinning since the arrival of Maram and he is already at ease handling her. "The name Maram means something like a wish or desire; something you really want, which is a perfect name for my daughter."

At first, both parents worried that it would be a difficult birth. "We were told that as a first delivery, and because of some complications, it may have been a difficult labour, and we were prepared for that," Mrs Wanis said. "But as soon as my baby was born, I forgot everything, I forgot the pain and just saw her." Mr Wanis marvelled that soon after they were told of the possible complications, they asked their families to pray for them through the night. Mrs Wanis's condition rapidly changed for the better.

"I think it is because of the prayers of our families that Maram made it safely into the world and answered all our wishes," Mr Wanis said. Nineteen babies were born at the Corniche Hospital on Thursday.