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SAQR. 50 Years And More E-mail



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SAQR. Fifty Years and More (The longest serving Head of State in the world and his extraordinary life) Some 59 years ago, 23-year-old Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi was placed in power of his homeland following a family conclave. The isolated sheikhdom was ravaged by poverty and starvation, while internal and external tensions were rife.

After the collapse of the pearling industry the isolated sheikhdom lacked any visible means of hope. Its people were backward, with no education system or health services. Asked why he would accept such a burden, he replies: “The people were starving. They had no hope. What would you do?”

With few assets other than a strong sense of duty and a belief that he could make a difference, Sheikh Saqr set off on a remarkable journey. If he had been born in the developed world he would have been barely old enough to obtain a driving license or vote, yet this inexperienced young Ruler now faced a daunting challenge. His people would live and die by his decisions.

The Greek philosopher Plato wrote that: “There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.”

Sheikh Saqr would not claim to be one of Plato’s philosopher rulers. But he clearly is an instinctual man – whose instincts rarely proved wrong. That Ras Al Khaimah survived at all is a testimony to this. The situation was that desperate.

Today, after almost six decades in power, Sheikh Saqr enjoys his twilight years surrounded by family. He surely has a sense of contentment as to what has been achieved. Not only did Ras Al Khaimah survive, but it prospered and went on to be a key member of the United Arab Emirates,

In recent times, Sheikh Saqr has been content to devolve most powers to his handpicked successor, Ras Al Khaimah Crown Prince, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi. Educated in the UAE, Lebanon and the United States, Sheikh Saud has built a reputation as a wily public administrator and an ultra-successful operator. It was these talents that Sheikh Saud brought to the business of ruling Ras Al Khaimah.

Since 2003, Sheikh Saud has not only built upon his father’s vision, but brought it into the 21st century. Sheikh Saud’s Ras Al Khaimah is today a vibrant entity that vies, as an equal, with the Middle East’s major commercial entrepots for the billions of dollars of real estate and infrastructure investment that is pouring into the region. Through innovation, the emirate now enjoys one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

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