His Highness Shaikh Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, belonged to Al Qasimi dynasty that ruled the northern part of the Greater Oman Region, following the fall of Ya'aribah state and emergence of Al Busayidi state in Suhar and Muscat in 1747.

His ancestral line goes back to Rahma Bin Matar Bin Kayid, founder of Al Qasimi ruling in the region. He is Saqr Bin Mohammad Bin Salim Bin Sultan Bin Saqr Bin Rashid Bin Rahama Bin Matar Bin Kayid, the grand father of Al Qasimi dynasty in the Arabian Gulf.

Shaikh Saqr was born in Ras Al Khaimah city in 1920, where he was brought up in an Islamic Arabic environment under the care of his father, Shaikh Mohammad Bin Salim, who ruled the emirate between 1917-1919.

In his very early age he was endowed a particular parental care, where he received religious and academic education. He learnt by heart many Quran verses, Prophetic Hadith, and principles of Islamic religion.

He learned reading and writing by the help of famous clerics. Then he joined a semi-regular school in Ras Al Khaimah to learn reading and writing and principles of mathematic. He also learned oratory and Arabic arts. From that very early age, Shaikh Saqr realised importance of knowledge in reshaping one's personality

Shaikh Saqr became Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah on February 12, 1948, after his uncle, Shaikh Sultan Bin Salim abdicated. Following his coming to power, Shaikh Saqr made great efforts to settle the basis of national unity among Emirati tribes.

He paid special attention to economic aspects of the emirate, as it, like other Arabia Gulf emirates, suffered economic crises and difficult social situations. In the first half of the 20th century, the region was experiencing repercussions of the First and Second World Wars, where it was economically and socially isolated by the colonial power.

Shaikh Saqr worked hard to socially and economically enhance the emirate. In the spheres of Arab World and beyond, he made many official visits to a number of countries and built up cordial relations with them.

In 1967, Shaikh Saqr chaired the Rulers Council, which was set up by rulers of emirates before the federation, to secure health, educational, transport and agricultural services.

Shaikh Saqr initiated several key projects and institutions in the emirate, such as the National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah, Ras Al Khaimah National Oil Company, Gulf Oil Corporation, Amoco International, International Petroleum Limited, Digdaga dairy farm, Ras Al Khaimah Cement Company and Julphar.

In education

Shaikh Saqr paid special attention to education. He created an administrative system for education, and opened a number of schools in cooperation with the Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt governments. He made education mandatory for girls. In late 1960s, government assistance was provided for a student for every day he spent in the school to encourage parents who hesitated to send their children to schools.

A co-education system was adopted when regular education was first introduced into the emirate. With more students joined schools, separate schools were built for each sex. In 1969 there was 27 schools provided education service to 6000 students.

Shaikh Saqr also paid special attentions to science and history, where the Studies and Achieve Centre, established in 1986, organised a number of scientific and historical conference to make people know about the relations between the region and other parts of the world.

A number of scientists and scholars delivered seminars and symposia to document for important phases in Arab history in the Gulf region. He also focused his attention on Quran memorising centres for both sexes.

He sponsors summer courses and offers incentives to encourage young generation to join them. In the summer of 1987 the Study Centre organised 11 cultural awareness unit that covered important cities and areas of the emirate and enrolled 1500 students of boys and girls.

In economy

Shaikh Saqr drew up an economic reform plan in coordination with the federal departments, covering reclamation to barren agricultural lands, digging of artesian wells, distribution of arable lands to farmers, and offering facilities to them improve their living standard.

He established Ras Al Khaimah Port, after the creek was deepened and reclaimed. A Main power station was also set up in additions to a number sub-stations in other areas. He secured fresh water to residential and industrial areas.

In health

During his tenure, Ras Al Khaimah became the first emirate after Dubai to establish a public hospital in 1963. The emirate currently has a number of top hospitals, including Saqr and Saif Bin Ghabash hospitals, that are equipped with most sophisticated medical equipment.

In construction and real estate

Under the directives of Shaikh Saqr, a paved road between Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah was opened in 1969, the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport in 1976, and Saqr Port in 1977. In the same period Khour Khwair Industrial Area was opened to attract numerous heavy industries including cement industry.

Shaikh Saqr issued in 1979 an emiri decree creating Gulf Medical Industries (Julphar). The company has started its production in 1980. It owns at present 7 medicine factories producing more than 200 type medicines sold in local, regional and international markets. Another emiri decree created a diary and poultry farms in Digdaga agricultural area. Both farms meet a greater part of the UAE needs of animal production.

In agriculture

Shaikh Saqr paid special attention to agriculture, as there are considerable fertile soils cover plains and bottoms of the mountains. With the help of the federal government, he built up a number of dams and water catchments to collect rainwater for the purpose of agriculture and to feed underground water.

Farms use modern technology for irrigation. Citrus, vegetables, dates and fodders are produced. Agricultural research centre in Hamrania provides agricultural services to these farms.

In heritage

In 1986 a study and archive centre was established in Ras Al Khaimah, its main aim being to prepare historical studies on the emirate and the region and keep local documents. Ras Al Khaimah Museum displays a range of archaeological finds and pottery, the oldest in the UAE.

Some of them date back to 6000 years in history. The Emirate is rich in archaeological sites and old colonies. Julfar, the old name of Ras Al Khaimah, was known at the level of the region for its trans- continents sea trade, and its strategic position in the Arabian Gulf that is why foreign power at that time were encroaching to get hold of it.

Source: Gulf News Archives