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DUBAI: Flags are the pride of a nation.

For Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, the UAE flag is that much more special as its creation is based on the design provided by him.

Currently the UAE Ambassador to Prague, Al Maainah recollects how he was just 19 years old when he designed the UAE flag in 1971 in response to an advertisement for a flag designing competition in Al Ittihad newspaper.

The teenager beat 1,000 other contestants, but when his winning flag design was featured in the paper, young Al Maainah was unable to recognise the design — as it was printed in black and white.

It was only when the flag was raised on December 2 at the Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi that year that he realised his design had won.

I had the honour of meeting the late Shaikh Zayed many times. I always stood before him with pride and gratitude because he was the one who chose my design. It is the greatest honour to know that he hoisted that flag with his own hands on that historical day of December 2, 1971.

- Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, designer of UAE flag, and current UAE Ambassador to Prague

“I had the honour of meeting the late Shaikh Zayed many times,” Al Maainah told Gulf News.

“I always stood before him with pride and gratitude because he was the one who chose my design. It is the greatest honour to know that he hoisted that flag with his own hands on that historical day of December 2, 1971.”

Al Maainah said students often approach him to ask him about the significance behind the choice of colours for the UAE flag.

Meaning

The colours, which he believes can mean various things, were initially used by Al Maainah differently.

He said he used black to signify the oil that transformed the country, green to symbolise fertility and prosperity and the red and white were included as they were already present in some emirate flags.

“Designing the UAE flag has marked my name in the nation’s history,” Al Maainah said.

“A nation that has grown to be rich in its culture, economy and its ability to provide opportunities. Flags are the pride of a nation. It is a source of happiness for every Emirati to raise this flag and celebrate their beloved nation.”

On the eve of the 48th National Day, he said he wished everyone well. “On this joyous and prideful occasion of the 48th National Day, I’d like to offer my congratulations to our great leaders, to all Emiratis and other residents. Happy National Day.”