Abu Dhabi: The lyrics of UAE national anthem - Iishi biladi, aasha ittihadu imaratina, (Live, my homeland; may the union of our emirates live) - were the subject of a heated debate at the Federal National Council (FNC) on Tuesday.

The FNC members criticized the Ministry of Culture for failing to declare the lyrics as the official song or create another verse to be sung to the tune of the official anthem.

The lyrics were chanted proudly by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai during several national events.

They are being sung to the tune of the official anthem by students each day at the start of school as an exercise in patriotism since 1986.

Even though the words, created by Dr Aref Al Shaikh, an educationist, have never been declared as the official lyrics of the anthem.

Abdul Rahman Mohammad Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, said the UAE has only a music composition as the national anthem. "We have never been instructed to create lyrics to go with the music of the national anthem," he said in a statement.

Sultan Saqr Al Suwaidi, an FNC member from Dubai, accused the Minister of Culture of hedging the issue and failing to take responsibility. "The national anthem is a vital issue and it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture to suggest a verse to be sung to the tune of the national anthem. Even though the minister is hedging this critical issue particularly in the year dedicated to the national identity," he said.

The anthem's lyrics, while popularly known and sung throughout the country since 1996, are still not the "official" anthem of the UAE.

The official anthem of the country is a musical composition only, which was created by Sa'ad Abdul Wahab, an Egyptan composer, and adopted since 1971, with the inception of the United Arab Emirates.

Al Suwaidi said although the UAE constitution states that the UAE must adopt a national song along with the musical composition, the lyrics, created on the request from the Ministry of Education have never been recognised as the official song of the country.

Other FNC members suggested that a contest for creating a national song be held to select the best and recognise it.


Live, my homeland; may the union of our emirates live.

May you live for a people

Whose religion is Islam, and whose guide is the Qur'an.

May I fortify you in the name of God, O homeland.

My homeland, my homeland, my homeland, my homeland.

May God protect you from the evils of time.

We have sworn to build, to work.

To work sincerely, to work sincerely.

However long we may live, we'll be loyal, we'll be loyal.

May peace last, and the flag live, O Emirates,

The symbol of pan-Arabism.

We all make sacrifices for you, and with our blood sate you.

We give up our souls for you, O homeland.