Thursday, October 28, 2010

National Mourning...

The ruler of the Emirate Ras al Khaimah, Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, passed away this morning at the spritely age of 92.  He was, according to wikipedia, the worlds oldest ruling monarch and had been the ruler of Ras al Khaimah since 1948 after taking over in a "bloodless" coup.

Yes, I can read wikipedia and regurgitate all this but what does it mean on the ground here in the UAE?

Well... for starters, there has been a period of National Mourning declared.  It varies from Emirate to Emirate with Ras al Khaimah declaring that they will be in mourning for 40 days.  The rest of the Emirates are plumping for generally three days of mourning but what is interesting to me is that the largest Emirate - Abu Dhabi - has actually not declared any official mourning period with the Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan only passing on his deepest condolences.

Which is disappointing because "National Mourning" includes the closing of government offices and businesses, which would have been a day or three off work for me because I work for an Abu Dhabi government company.

Other than closed government offices what National Mourning means that all radio stations now only play "mourning music" which is at best soft classical music but is typically recitals of the Holy Q'uran and Arabic poetry.  This extends to ALL radio stations, which means when the kids want to listen to Virgin Radio Top 40 in the car, its sorry, but we only have Arabic poetry.

Also, all public events and celebrations are cancelled.  The opening of the multi million dollar Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi has been postponed which would have involved a huge number of celebrities and big wigs cancelled / rescheduled but also even our kids school cancelled their "International Day Parade" out of respect for the Sheikhs death.

So, it impacts everyone from the big events in town down to the kids and schools... but I have to say that the reaction has been sombre and respectful without being hysterical in the media.  It is by no means a "Princess Diana" event, but then again he was 92 and it was hardly unexpected.

Rest in Peace Sheikh Saqr.

No comments: