The United Arab Emirates is a relatively young country, officially becoming a nation-state in 1971 under the leadership of its founding father, Sheikh Zayed. Comprised of seven different emirates with the city of Abu Dhabi as its capital, the UAE not only gained its wealth from the discovery of oil but also from the millions of tourists who come to see the sparkling city of Dubai, bask in the beautiful deserts, and enjoy the breathtaking views. Its flag too, has an interesting history and is flown with pride almost everywhere in every major city in the UAE. Here are some cool facts about the little-known UAE flag.
An Emirati teenager from Abu Dhabi who heard about the competition for the best design of the country’s new flag, Abdullah Al Maainah wasn’t even informed of the decision to go with his design—he found out when he went to the palace himself to get a sneak peek at the raising of the flag for the first time in 1971. Several months later he did receive the recognition and prize money, and has since gone on to become the UAE ambassador for numerous foreign countries, most currently serving as the UAE ambassador to Chile.
Adopted on the same day that the UAE was officially declared an independent nation, the flag was raised for the first time on this very day. A celebration of this momentous event is still celebrated every year as National Day in the UAE.
The leader and founding father of the nation, Sheikh Zayed, was also the first person to raise the flag on this momentous day. The flag has since always been associated with the UAE’s proud independence.
Pan-Arabism, the ideology that Arabs and their respective Arab states should unite under one brotherhood of Arab nations and support Arab nationalism, was a popular idea in the 1960s most famously because of Arab nationalist and Egyptian Gamal Abdel Nasser. The UAE’s flag boasts these colors to show solidarity with other nation-states in the Arab world.
All seven emirates in the UAE have their own specific flag, and will fly their own flag usually right next to the national flag during holidays or at government buildings. In recent years however, many cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi choose to simply fly the national flag in order to show solidarity and unification as one country and not separate emirates.
Although the color red can be interpreted to mean the sacrifice many Arab states have gone through, it is popularly known to represent the strong allegiance to Islam and to the Prophet Mohammad. The UAE, although officially abiding by international regulations, is still run on the Islamic sharia law and remains proudly devoted to showcasing what it claims to be an allegiance to Islamic law.
Although not strictly enforced, the UAE government likes to remind its citizens who fly the national flag at their homes that the condition of the flag should be regularly checked every 45 days to ensure there is no damage to the flag. While some may find this a bit much, when observing the flags flying around residential homes in the UAE you’ll notice that almost every single flag looks to be brand new.
In addition to the checking of the flag every 45 days for citizens, any UAE national flag on official display must be changed every six months to ensure that the flag is in prime condition. This makes you wonder what happens to all the old flags!