Dubai: When the seven emirates came toghether on December 2, 1971, it was a proud moment for every Emirati. But for one young man from Abu Dhabi, there was another reason to celebrate too.
Abdullah Mohammad Al Maainah had no idea that his design for the UAE Flag had been selected until it was hoisted on that day.
He was just 19 years old when he designed the the UAE Flag in 1971 in response to an advertisement for a flag designing competition in Al Ittihad newspaper.
The teenager beat more than 10,000 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.
A diplomat now, Al Maainah told Gulf News that he walked to Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi and from behind its fence, had a peek at the hoisted flag
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the flag up there on the pole. It was my design. It was a moment of pride and a day to remember,” he said.
He recalled how he noticed the advertisement for the flag design competition three months before the Union.
My main motivation was to have a part in the Unity and formation of the country. Designing the flag marked my name in the nation’s history.
“It was a coincidence as I noticed it just a few days before the deadline. I walked to the nearest library and bought drawing tools and colouring pencils. I rushed to my house and worked on the design. I didn’t sleep that night until I finished the design and submitted it by mail,” said Al Maainah.
“I had a feeling that it might win but I was anxious to know the results.”
After seeing the hoisted flag, Al Maainah received an official notice of his winning entry.
“My main motivation was to have a part in the Unity and formation of the country. Designing the flag marked my name in the nation’s history,” Al Maainah said.
Al Maainah, who has travelled across the world as a diplomat, has taken the flag wherever he has gone.
“I have a feeling of pride and honour each time I see my country’s flag. I was lucky because I was accompanied by the flag during my many years as a diplomat and ambassador of the UAE,” said Al Maainah.
Earlier last week, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, called upon citizens, residents, ministries and government institutions to celebrate Flag Day on November 3.
UAE Flag Day falls on November 3, in conjunction with the anniversary of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s assumption of office as the leader of the country. This year, the celebration is even more significant given that the UAE is celebrating 50 years.
Flag colours and their significance
The flag consists of four colours — green, white, black and red — which together represent the unity of Arabs.
Al Maainah said that the environment of the seven Emirates, traditions and culture inspired him to choose the four colours of the UAE flag.
“Every colour has its own meaning. My inspiration came from the habits and cultures of the seven Emirates,” he added.
For him, green stands for fertility and prosperity. White represent peace and tolerance, while black signifies the Emiratis’ solidity and strength of the land.
“Red has a meaning of courage and sacrifice for the nation,” added Al Maainah.